Duke Student Government will work with administrators on modifying the standards for alcohol consumption on campus, said junior Neil Kondamuri, DSG vice president for social culture.
At the DSG meeting on Thursday, Kondamuri said that members of DSG have begun discussions with the administration to improve the current alcohol policies to better fit the Duke social culture.
“The problem on campus right now is that there is a big information gap between what the administration wants students to do with alcohol and what students are actually doing in party-like settings,” Kondamuri said. “We are looking for a solution that solves the information gap and makes it so [students] are following the rules while making students happier.”
The idea was initially introduced to Kondamuri by freshman Banks Anderson, senator for social culture. The plans are still preliminary, Kondamuri noted.
Executive Vice President Patrick Oathout, a junior, added that the committee will also communicate with Duke’s Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council and Selective House Council to encourage dialogue about the effectiveness of current alcohol regulations.
Oathout noted, however, that the discussion concerning alcohol policy was not the most significant part of this week’s meeting. He said the pending DSG bill of rights should be a subject of student conversation.
The bill of rights will “provide an avenue for students to connect with DSG and the judiciary,” he said.
Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to vote to approve the bill of rights concurrently with the Young Trustee ballot scheduled for Feb. 7.
“There has been a lack on our part to really communicate the importance of the bill of rights to the average Duke student, but this is really important,” he said. “This will give them an avenue to address the issues they feel are most important.”
The bill of rights will replace the joint statement document that has governed the organization for more than 18 years. Oathout said that the joint statement is “dated” and “the language needs updating,” noting that the current DSG non-discrimination clause does not address sexual orientation.
The proposed bill of rights, however, received criticism from some senators. Junior Marcus Benning, senator for Durham and regional affairs, said the new document will not affect students, unless its goals are thoroughly communicated to the student body.
An amendment proposed by President Alex Swain, a senior, clarifies that the right to freedom of speech outlined in the document—a right not guaranteed by the current policies—will not extend to the amount of money that can be used during DSG campaigns.
But Benning and junior Stefani Jones, vice president for equity and outreach, said they were concerned that without a clause to regulate negative campaigning, the right to freedom of speech could be misused.
“Students should look at both sides of the situation when voting,” she said, adding that DSG spent a lot of time on this legislation that it could have spent more directly working with students.
Oathout said he disagreed, noting that the bill of rights will be a “really, really important legacy” that future students will appreciate.
“We are fighting about things that really matter for [students],” Oathout said. “The bill of rights applies to every single Duke student. This can totally revolutionize everything that DSG is able to do for students.”
In other business:
Freshmen Syed Adil and Matthew Heinlein and sophomore Abhishek Balakrishnan were approved as members of the board of elections.
Oathout noted that “all of the new members are competent.”
Senator for services Michael Washington, a sophomore, said DSG and the student body should be welcoming to Dr. John Vaughn, the new director of student health.
“This guy is awesome, and we should feel really grateful to have him,” Washington said.
The new Fix My Campus system is getting approximately four suggestions per day, said senator for services Lavanya Sunder, a freshman.
“We are already way more successful than [The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]’s program, which only gets one per week,” she said, adding that DSG is “working with” all of the suggestions.