Student groups dissatisfied with funding allocations have a new appeals process.
In late October, the Duke Student Government Senate created the Financial Oversight and Appeals Committee in an amendment to the bylaws governing the Student Organization Finance Committee, which oversees funding for student groups and programming. The appeals committee—comprised of the DSG president, executive vice president, treasurer, chief of staff and four senators, in addition to the SOFC chair—will be responsible for the appeals process for funding requests as well as allocating surplus funding.
“For the past several years, students have been complaining about the inefficiencies of the appeals process and have called for a process that is more transparent and fair,” said DSG Executive Vice President Patrick Oathout, a junior. “The creation of FOAC is a response to these requests.”
The new committee will replace the Surplus Trustees committee, which was formed to review allocations from the DSG Surplus Account, said sophomore Nikolai Doytchinov, vice president for academic affairs. The Surplus Account holds approximately $90,000, accumulated from several years of budget under-utilization.
“The thought was that before money could be withdrawn, in potentially very large amounts, from this account that contained student fees collected over a long period, more due diligence should be performed and a thoughtful analysis presented to the Senate,” Doytchinov wrote in an email Thursday.
He added that the Senate would retain the right to decide how much money to appropriate, but only after hearing the recommendation from FOAC. FOAC establishes a qualified appeals process that addresses the need for a separation of powers, Oathout said, adding that the inclusion of the SOFC chair in FOAC, however, would allow him or her to comment on the decisions process.
“It would be inappropriate for appeals to come back to SOFC after SOFC made the initial decision,” SOFC chair Kat Krieger, a senior, wrote in an email Sunday.
Doytchinov, who co-authored the amendment, noted that there were several issues that prompted the creation of the new committee, notably the desire of several groups to appeal SOFC recommendations on their applications for funding, recognition or charter.
In the previous system, such appeals would require the groups to attend the Wednesday DSG meetings and address the full Senate body, who would then consider the legislation to overrule SOFC.
“The Senate is not a good body to directly research facts and deliberate on details. This is better done in committee, without wasting everyone’s time,” Doytchinov said. “The Senate can then vote based on the facts determined by FOAC and in light of that body’s recommendation.”
The inclusion of both DSG and SOFC members in FOAC should facilitate communication between the two organizations, as well as improve the credibility of the new committee to the Senate, Krieger added.
FOAC, Doytchinov added, would also conduct a comprehensive review of DSG’s fiscal policies, thereby becoming the “go-to committee” for fact-finding and analysis on controversial financial decisions.
Since its creation at the end of October, the new committee has already been put to use for investigating Scale and Coin—a new interest group working to provide opportunities and information in the business field, Oathout noted. In response to concerns about the organization’s affiliation with the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, which was disbanded due to conduct violations, the investigation was handed over to FOAC.