Duke Student Government Senate approved $34,117.87 in funding at their Wednesday meeting, including Chabad Student Group’s speaker event featuring Anne Frank’s stepsister, Eva Schloss. 

Although the Student Organization Funding Committee granted $3,850 for the Eva Schloss event, the Senate passed an amendment that increased the speaker lodging accommodations to $250—CSG’s initial request.

CSG President Michael Levin, a sophomore, spoke during the meeting's public forum to request additional funding for both the speaker lodging accommodations and flyers and marketing.

“With the speaker lodging accommodations, $125 was the standard rate for lodging in Durham for SOFC, but because of her elderly age and because of her experiences, and she is traveling from Florida to speak at Duke, I was hoping we could consider a little bit more funding to make sure we accommodate her lodging in a more comfortable setting here at Duke," Levin said. "For flyers and marketing, I believe $125 would be good but also to spread the word a little bit more I was hoping to receive more than that, if not the full 500."

First-year Andrew Carlins, senator for academic affairs, proposed granting flyers and marketing and speaker lodging accommodations in full—an extra $500 to SOFC’s allocation. 

“I think this event should be advertised very well to our best ability to the entire Duke community. [SOFC chair] Luke [Farrell] said $125 because SOFC has strict guidelines as an amount that they can give. There have been events before that we have given more than $125 despite the SOFC restriction,” Carlins said. “My argument is that bringing Anne Frank’s stepsister definitely falls within one of those exceptions. Thus, [CSG] should get the full amount that they are asking for.”

When asked to provide examples of such events, he was not able to provide one, but noted that the Senators could “go into the history of meetings” to search for such an “extra-funded event.”

Levin justified a $500 allocation for flyers and marketing because “large volumes” of flyers would be needed to properly advertise the event and would also acquire “professional designing for those materials.”

“In regard to the speaker and the lodging accommodations, Anne Frank’s stepsister is extremely elderly. Her coming to Duke is doing us a favor by speaking to us," Carlins said. "It is every bit of a reason to honor her and give her the best accommodations that we can give. In a nutshell, she should stay in a very comfortable room with perhaps better hotel accommodations and maybe at a place near Duke campus is the least we can do to thank someone like her."

Farrell, a junior, said that SOFC annually completes “an internal calculus” on Durham hotel rates and hourly rates and has utilized a $125 lodging accommodation standard for each speaker. Anything above that rate, Farrell said, would be negotiated between the speaker and UCAE within their contract.

Levin added that Schloss “informally requested a four-star hotel,” as it was neither negotiated in her contract with UCAE nor offered by CSG.

Senior Kevin Mutchnick, senator for academic affairs, gave a speech in negation, noting that though he was “in favor of the event,” that he did not believe it to “truly be an exception to SOFC [guidelines].”

Although Carlins was the only one who voted for his proposed amendment, the Senate continued to debate speaker lodging accommodations.

When a senator asked if the denial of full funding for lodging accommodations would “poorly reflect on Duke,” Mutchnick countered that it would instead “poorly reflect on us,” and it was not as if the speaker would be staying at “Motel 6” with $125. He suggested that a hotel such as the “Hilton Garden Inn” might be more applicable.

Farrell added that the Hilton Garden Inn in Durham has 4.5 stars according to Google Review.

Junior Kristina Smith, vice president of services and sustainability, made a point of information to acknowledge the Hilton Garden Inn’s actual rate the day of the event would be $200. Junior Sean Bissell, vice president of academic affairs, suggested $200 for lodging accommodations and for SOFC to look further into the accommodations expenses in the area.

Sophomore Liv McKinney, senator for services and sustainability, proposed an amendment to fund the speaker lodging accommodations in full. The Senate passed this $250 allocation with only two senators in opposition, Mutchnick and first-year Jia Jia Shen, senator for equity and outreach.

“To bring [Schloss] to campus is a big deal,” Farrell said.

In other business:

Sophomore Avery Boltwood, senator for campus life, proposed an amendment to a budgetary statute for cash prizes in a Tech Survey Raffle. As the initial statute proposed five $10 prizes, Boltwood reasoned that, according to prospect theory, students would see a “small chance of winning” with the “low price” of one of the gift cards. Instead, he advocated for one $50 gift card to incentivize more respondents.

“[Students] are going to see a $50 prize and, since the odds are so small, they are going to see them as virtually the same,” Boltwood said. “At least there would be a chance for $50.”

The Senate approved $50 in funding for cash prizes for selected 2018 Undergraduate Information Technology Survey responders. 

The Senate also granted funded events for Blue Devils United, Duke Disability Alliance, Zeta Phi Beta, TEDxDuke, Singapore Students Association, Pi Kappa Alpha and Lamda Phi Epsilon and Duke Chinese Theater, respectively.

Duke Autism Alliance and Duke Go Club were chartered and Phoenix Magazine was recognized.