The Duke Student Government Senate passed a resolution “acknowledging the merit and ability of all Duke students” at its meeting Wednesday.
The resolution—which was passed with 41 positive votes, 11 negative votes and two abstentions—was created in light of University discussion regarding affirmative action policies in admissions and the role of diversity on campus. DSG President Alex Swain, a senior, noted that DSG has a responsibility to make sure that students feel supported and respected by their peers and hoped that this resolution would be effective in cultivating that sentiment.
“[The resolution] will send an important message to the student body showing our support for all students,” Swain said. “We as student leaders—when people are feeling like their presence isn’t welcome or appreciated—have the responsibility to solve that.”
Some Senate members expressed concern that the resolution denoted an implicit support of affirmative action, as well as appearing to be a response to freshman Jed Bradshaw’s recent letter to the editor published in The Chronicle Nov. 1, which criticized Duke’s support for affirmative action policies in admissions. Sophomore Josh Izzard, senator for academic affairs, said he was worried that the resolution will not have the intended effect on students.
“Do we think that this is going to come across as DSG giving a lot of collective pats on the back, or is this going to come across as DSG separating itself from one author?” Izzard said. “This will only serve to press [Jed Bradshaw] further down, and that’s not the intent of this.”
Although the resolution comes one week after Bradshaw’s letter, Swain assured the Senate that the document was a product of ongoing campus conversation concerning diversity.
Junior Marcus Benning, senator for Durham and regional affairs, noted that, regardless of the timing, the message was important to convey.
“I really hope Mr. Bradshaw’s feelings aren’t hurt, but the point of this discussion is to send the message that we affirm the merit of all students,” Benning said.
In other business:
The Senate unanimously voted to pass a bill adjusting the student activities fee for inflation. The fee is charged to all undergraduate students in order to fund programming on campus.
“We have to inevitably increase the student activities fee every year to go with the rising cost of inflation,” Executive Vice President Patrick Oathout, a junior, said.
Oathout proposed changes to the Spring 2013 DSG election timeline with the intent of allowing more time to choose a cabinet and giving the future president a chance to shadow the current president. Elections for DSG president and DSG executive vice president will take place March 7.
Senator for Academic Affairs Prashanth Ciryam, a freshman, introduced a bill to establish East Campus town hall meetings to foster interaction between senators and the student body. Some Senate members noted that this was similar to senator office hours, an existing program in which senators are available to talk to students. Ciryam said that town hall meetings would be regularly scheduled and better advertised than office hours.
Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that DSG elections would take place on the same day as elections for Young Trustee. They will not. The Chronicle regrets the error.