The Duke Student Government Senate unanimously passed its annual budget with little debate at its Wednesday meeting.
Senior Alexa Soren, chair of the Student Organization Funding Committee, noted that the annual budget is $370,000—a smaller annual budget than last year. This allows for more money to be put into programming for student events, she said.
Executive Vice President Ilana Weisman, a senior, noted that only seven groups appealed their annual budget recommendations. This too was fewer than last year.
“Usually when groups appeal, there’s a lot more discussion, and a lot of times they will request budgets that even if [the Financial Oversight and Appeals Committee] agrees with SOFC allocation, then Senate will overrule FOAC—that happened several times last year,” Weisman said. “So I think that’s why the annual budget itself remained relatively low.”
Notable appeals included a $75,000 appeal by the Chanticleer. The student-run yearbook was funded $0 from SOFC. Although the group reduced the amount of its appeal to $50,000 after discussion, FOAC nonetheless unanimously voted to uphold SOFC’s budget recommendation of $0.
Senior Michael Norwalk, vice president for facilities, environment and the arts, proposed a $200 amendment for the yearbook, but the amendment did not pass.
The Catholic Center also submitted an appeal to raise the allocation for one of its retreats, as well as to include funding for printed Easter programs and broadcast equipment. FOAC opted not to raise the Catholic Center’s allocation, and the Senate passed it at this non-raised level.
Weisman said the meeting moved much more quickly than in previous years because she did not allow groups to speak in the Senate outside of public forum.
“In the past, there have been several occasions wherein a group would come to Senate and basically pitch themselves outside of public forum, and this year I told groups that they would not be allowed to come unless it was during public forum, and one group did come during public forum,” Weisman said.
The Senate also revisited a budgetary statute—independent of the annual budget—tabled at its last meeting for the Catholic Center's Easter Mass. The statute initially asked for about $7,700—including about $6,500 to use Cameron Indoor Stadium. Some senators reiterated concerns with the exclusivity of the event, arguing that the event is not truly open to the student body because of its religious nature. Others suggested that Catholic students could attend the non-denominational Easter Mass held at the Chapel.
The main concern was the cost of renting out Cameron Indoor Stadium. Junior Kevin Mutchnick, senator for equity and outreach, proposed an amendment to decrease the location allocation to $1,000, which was passed by the Senate. In total, then, the Catholic Center got about $2,240 instead of the requested $7,700.
In other business:
The Senate passed a budgetary statute for the Chinese Student Association and Duke University Safe Keepers, an initiative to reduce sexual assault at Shooters.
Additionally, the Senate passed a University Committee by-law ensuring that five seats on the Board of Trustees are open to the student body on an at-large basis. Five other seats are still reserved for members of Duke Student Government.