Duke Student Government solidified its infrastructure and began discussing its approach to issues pertaining to student life and social policies at the University.
Because the inaugural meeting occurred before the Sept. 11 DSG elections, in which a large bulk of senators will be added to the governing body, much discussion centered on electing several committees to oversee the election process. Senators discussed the many transitions they will be overseeing in upcoming months, including student feedback to the house model, West Union Building renovations, changes in the statute of limitation on reporting sexual misconduct and the highly anticipated plan for replacing Tailgate.
“This summer we’ve been working on a number of issues regarding several big changes to the University,” said DSG President Alex Swain, a senior. “We are transitioning to an interesting time for our country and for the relationship between students and universities in general.”
The replacement for Tailgate was touched upon briefly. The first New Tailgating event has been postponed to the Sept. 15 home game and moved from a field near Koskinen Stadium to the Main West Quadrangle due to security concerns, Swain said. She added that she encourages students to join the “Tailgate Team”—a committee of students appointed to assess student feedback and shape the final form of Tailgate.
“It’s going to be a Tailgate unlike any we’ve ever seen,” said Executive Vice President Patrick Oathout, a junior. “It’s going to be on the main quad, and students should be really excited for it.”
Three committees were created to fill various offices in DSG’s structure over the next few weeks. First, the senators elected the Judiciary Selection Committee—a group who will interview non-senators to become members of the DSG Judiciary, which reviews senate proceedings. They then elected the Board of Elections, which will establish policies for campaigning on campus for DSG elections. The third committee elected was the Presidential Committee Selection Committee, a group of three senators in charge of appointing students to represent various special interest groups on campus.
All three committees are open to non-senators, and positions can be applied for by contacting Oathout. Information sessions for prospective senators will be held Thursday evening on East Campus.
Beside discussion of internal organization, DSG passed resolutions on pertinent campus issues. One resolution granted student organizations who are unrecognized by the Student Organization Finance Committee—and thus not chartered by the University—the right to table and rent rooms for meetings in support of specific U.S. political candidates between now and the Nov. 6 elections.
The resolution comes after two prospective student groups—Duke Students for Obama and Duke Students for Romney—were denied SOFC recognition due to concerns about the groups’ sustainability. Prior to the DSG resolution, groups without official SOFC recognition would have been barred from using campus facilities, referencing the University in any activities or advertisements, sponsoring events on campus that are open to the general public, utilizing University Center for Activities and Events services and accessing listservs, said junior Daniel Strunk, North Carolina Young Americans for Romney college manager.
“[The decision by SOFC to not recognize candidacy organizations] strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment and student free speech,” Strunk said in an interview prior to the DSG decision.
Had this resolution not passed, both organizations would have operated under their respective umbrella organizations—Duke Democrats and Duke College Republicans, said Strunk and Duke Democrats co-president David Winegar, a sophomore.
Another resolution agreed to fund the Duke Inferno for another year—granting the organization $10,866—following a presentation by Inferno president Sam Marks. Marks, a junior, is overseeing an extensive overhaul of the student organization, having fired its entire executive board at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 academic year. He noted that Inferno is changing its policy in order to involve a greater percentage of the student body and promoting “experiences in lieu of possessions” by offering lunches with players and tours of team locker rooms.
Both Swain and Oathout encouraged students, especially incoming freshmen, to get involved with DSG and help confront the many upcoming changes at Duke as campaigning begins next Tuesday.
“This time of change presents a great opportunity for DSG and the rest of the student body to create some new traditions and new memories and really get our input on how we think that campus life should be different,” Swain said.