At the Duke Student Government Senate meeting Wednesday, Treasurer Nick Santangelo, a sophomore, proposed to recommend to the Board of Trustees an increase in DSG's component of the student activities fee from $127.64 to $130.45 per student for the year. 

Santangelo's resolution noted that the increase "represents an increase of 2.2%, equal to rate of inflation in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers." The current student activities is $263 per student for the year.

The distribution of the student activities fee goes to DSG, class councils, Duke University Union and LDOC, respectively in descending order of proportion. Senate approved the proposal, which will be sent as a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.

Senate also heard from Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, about his role as the connector between Duke and the government.

Schoenfeld takes a particular interest in the complexities of institutions. Overseeing communication and advocacy for the University, he believes he has the “best job on campus” as he gets to supervise “pretty much anything that says Duke on it.” 

“What’s on your agenda is also on my agenda,” Schoenfeld said.

Witnessing the development of Duke as an institution is especially important to Schoenfeld, as he was an undergraduate at Duke and graduated with public policy studies major in 1984.

“Twenty-four years later you can end up working 500 feet from where you lived as a freshman,” Schoenfeld said.

As Duke’s chief spokesperson, he deals with both “good things” and issues that are “in the other direction.” He directly oversees the Office of News and Communication–which involves media relations, broadcast services, various publications, Duke’s office of government relations and the Washington D.C. office.

Schoenfeld explained that Duke has “tremendous visibility” not just in Raleigh and Durham, but also around the world. With such an active presence on both local and international scales, he argued that he could draw a line from any policy dispute to something going on at Duke. 

“The short answer is that everything that happens in Washington will have some impact on Duke,” Schoenfeld said.

In fact, Schoenfeld remarked that he was just at Duke’s Washington D.C. location just hours before the Senate meeting.

He argued that his role in connecting D.C. to Durham to particularly be vital because “everything that happens on campus is somehow influenced by government policy.” These policies include immigration, education, research and technology transfers.

Schoenfeld also commented on the role of Duke’s President, noting the position as having a “unique perch.” The position commands attention and can be easily utilized as “leverage” for the University, he said. It matters a great deal that President Price specializes in public policy and is very interested in pursuing the field’s implications in his everyday work.

“Not only do we see [President Price] over time as a president connecting with students, but also as a representative and leader in higher education on issues important to the University," Schoenfeld said.

He noted that recognizing the role of Duke on a national and international scale, the impact of public policy from the Hill and the importance of significant changes in leadership are concepts that DSG leaders “need to know."

“None of this should be a surprise. Otherwise, we’re not doing our job,” Schoenfeld said.

 In other business:

Executive Vice President Kushal Kadakia, a junior, updated the Senate on Fix My Duke—an annual forum to receive student feedback via all presidents of living groups on campus. At the event, students discussed problems on campus and potential solutions. 

Proposals include altering library hours, creating a farmer’s market outside of K-Ville, a new app called “Duke in Durham” through which students can have easier access to information about downtown and surrounding service opportunities and more affordable meal options. 

Starting on Monday, vendors on West Campus will be required to provide at least one $5 option for lunch as part of the Devil's Deals initiative.

The Senate also approved funding for three speaker events hosted by Blue Devils United, DukeAfrica and the Duke Catholic Center. Additionally, two new student groups were approved—Blacks in Business and Duke Poker Club.