Duke Student Government votes down 25 Percent Compromise
Duke Student Government defeated the 25 Percent Compromise—an alternative to the 40 Percent Plan for allocating student annual activities fees—at their meeting Tuesday.
Senators heatedly debated the parameters of the compromise, which would allow rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to allocate 25 percent of their student activities fees to the student organizations of their choosing. Senior Daniel Strunk, a leader of the 40 Percent Plan, said if the 25 Percent Compromise were passed under its original conditions, he would remove his referendum for the 40 Percent Plan. As of now, the plan will be voted on by the entire undergraduate student body during the DSG president, executive vice president and Student Organization Funding Committee chair elections March 4.
Junior Ellie Schaack, vice president for facilities and the environment, said that the 25 Percent Compromise is not good legislation.
“I think it is terrible policy,” Schaack said. “I think this whole idea has been terrible policy since day one.”
She noted that just because this policy is "less bad" than the 40 Percent Plan does not mean that it is good policy that benefits the students.
When sophomore Bryan Dinner, senator for equity and outreach, was asked if the 25 Percent Compromise were only relevant because it would strike the 40 Percent Plan from the ballot, he said that question was “irrelevant.”
“At the end of the day, if this passes, we are going to see an under-funding of some groups and an over-funding of other groups,” said junior Jacob Zionce, vice president for residential life.
A group of senators presented the logistical benefits of the compromise in relation to the 40 Percent Plan.
“This vote determines how you want to see the allocation of student funds moving forward,” said sophomore Abhi Sanka, senator for residential life. “Ultimately this is a choice between the 25 Percent [Compromise] and the 40 Percent Plan.”
The 25 Percent Compromise differs from the 40 Percent Plan in that it does not allow incoming freshmen to allocate their money, said sophomore Mousa Alshanteer, senator for Durham and regional affairs and editorial pages managing editor of The Chronicle.
If approved, the 40 Percent Plan is set to launch in the 2015-16 academic year, Sanka said.
“If this gets put on the ballot, there is a very high likelihood that it will pass,” said sophomore Jay Sullivan, senator for residential life and associate editor for sports at The Chronicle, noting that it took Strunk “like a week” to garner 1,000 signatures on his petition.
Freshman James Ferencsik, senator for academic affairs, noted that there still needs to be further reform of SOFC.
“We don’t think this is going to entirely fix SOFC,” he said.
Junior Nikolai Doytchinov, executive vice president, lead a presentation on the important role that SOFC plays within DSG, outlining proposed changes for the future of the organization.
“It would be hard for a body of this size—that also has so many other priorities—to also be able to fully focus on the budget,” Doytchinov said, highlighting the necessity of SOFC.
He emphasized the extensive systems of checks and balances that exist between the senate and SOFC.
“Anytime a group is dissatisfied with a decision, it always has the opportunity to appeal,” Doytchinov said.
By requiring an election to determine SOFC chairs, Doytchinov noted, the process is now democratic and fair.
Revised SOFC bylaws also allow for the possibility of exceptions to the standards for chartered and recognized groups. Doytichnov gave the example of a passionate group with nine students applying for an exception to the requirement that groups have 10 members.
Currently, SOFC’s annual budget is accessible on the DSG website, but Doytchinov noted that he is considering introducing legislation that makes this practice mandatory for future administrations.
A live feed of the current totals of all DSG transactions and accounts is being added to the website, Doytchinov said.
Junior Joyce Lau, SOFC chair, worked with Doytchinov to create a process for auditing student groups.
Over 400 student groups are currently registered with SOFC, Lau said.
“Essentially a lot of those groups are inactive,” she said, noting that DSG can take back the money that has been sitting in their accounts.
Doytchinov also formalized a process for disciplining groups that are found mishandling funds, though he hopes this process will rarely have to be used.
“We don’t fund giveaways. We don’t fund alcohol. We don’t fund decorations. We don’t fund general body meetings,” Lau said.
In other business:
Sophomore Lavanya Sunder, vice president for services, noted that her senators are planning a “Meet the Marketplace” event where workers will offer their favorite dishes for students to sample.
Junior Ray Li, vice president for academic affairs, noted that his senators are working with administrators to assess why a large portion of students from the Pratt School of Engineering transfer into the Trinity College of Arts and Science. This phenomenon occurs at a much higher rate at Duke than other peer schools, he said.
After last year’s first annual academic homecoming, Li noted that he is helping some of Duke’s peer institutions—such as Yale University—implement a similar ceremony.
“It is nice to see them following in our footsteps for once,” he said.
The senate approved $1,510 for the Blue Devil United Annual Drag Show.