After the Duke Student Government Senate’s decision to defund and move toward de-chartering the Duke College Republicans, DSG President Mike Lefevre vetoed both pieces of legislation this weekend.
Lefevre, a senior, vetoed the group’s defunding Friday afternoon and extended his veto Sunday night to block the potential de-chartering of the organization, which would have been determined by the Student Organization Finance Committee.
Lefevre’s veto came after he received letters of resignation from DCR Chair Carter Boyle and Vice Chair Travis Rapp, both seniors.
“It didn’t make sense to veto one and not the other,” Lefevre said. “Students involved in this mess will no longer be leading the organization.... It’s really unjust to the club if we punish them for something that happened last year, [when] the people who did that faced the repercussions.”
DCR will hold an election in the next few weeks to select a new chair. No current members of the DCR executive board will be able to run for the position—a decision made by the College Republicans, Lefevre said.
After meeting with SOFC Chair Max Tabachnik, Lefevre extended his veto to prevent the organization’s de-chartering. Tabachnik, a senior, proposed that SOFC govern the next College Republicans election. Lefevre noted that the club must comply with SOFC’s ruling.
The Senate’s Sept. 8 decision to defund the group was made on the basis that the club had demonstrated a “culture of discrimination.”
The Senate came to a vote—securing exactly the necessary two-thirds majority—after reviewing discriminatory and homophobic e-mails, photographs and other forms of evidence allegedly connected to DCR members. The evidence was presented by former DCR Chair Justin Robinette and former DCR Vice Chair Cliff Satell, both seniors. Robinette claimed in April he was impeached from his position because he is gay.
In response to the vetos, Satell said in a press release Sunday that a complaint against Duke will be filed with the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education.
The club, however, is still at risk of losing its charter.
The Senate can overturn Lefevre’s veto with a two-thirds vote in its meeting Wednesday.
The College Republicans could also be de-chartered pending a DSG Judiciary hearing regarding the DCR’s alleged selective membership. Satell filed a complaint with the Judiciary over the summer, arguing that the club violated an SOFC bylaw when he and Robinette claimed they were removed from the club’s roster and listserv.
According to the bylaw, an Officially Chartered organization like the College Republicans is one that is “not selective in its membership.” If the Judiciary finds the club violated the bylaw, it can recommend that SOFC de-charter the organization, Lefevre said.
Boyle could not be reached for comment Sunday, but Rapp said he resigned to focus more on his academics and extracurricular activities. He added that he wants to keep his involvement with DCR at a “minimum.”
“Honestly, I made my decision independent from that of any other officer resignations in the club,” Rapp said. “I won’t speculate as to the reasons that others had or the reasons that Mr. Lefevre had for his veto of our defunding.”
Senior Stewart Day, current DCR executive vice chair, will serve as interim chair until the upcoming election.
“Per Lefevre’s veto, we are hoping to get a new chairman from someone outside the club,” Day said. “We’d like to run elections in accordance with the College Republicans constitution and the DSG constitution, and as long as we do that I think everything will turn out fine.”
To comply with an April DSG resolution, the club modified its bylaws last week to make its elections “free, formal, and publicized” and include two weeks notice of the election.
After the Senate’s decision Wednesday, Lefevre consulted DCR Chief of Staff Rachel Provost, a senior, to discuss the club’s future.
“My only action was to not sign this thing,” Lefevre said. “The College Republicans had in accordance with their own bylaws a very thorough and fair process for changing leadership.... They have guaranteed a regime change.”
Lefevre did not consult Robinette before releasing the veto.
“I think some of the onus falls on the administration [at Duke],” Robinette said. “The administration asked us to take our issues to student government and the student government Senate passed in our favor and it was overruled. I think it’s very clear that the system didn’t do its job very well.”