The Duke Student Government Senate finalized the 2014-15 annual budget in their last meeting of the year Tuesday evening.
Debate in the Senate focused on how much funding Student Organization Funding Committee should give the Chanticleer—Duke's student yearbook—with Senators suggesting that the publication should receive anywhere from no funding to $56,847 from students’ activities fees. The senators passed an amendment—sponsored by current senior Stefani Jones, DSG president; junior Ray Li, vice president for academic affairs; junior Ellie Schaack, vice president for facilities and the environment; and senior Ajeet Hansra, senator for academic affairs—that cut the Chanticleer’s funding from $70,000 to $20,000. The original amendment proposed allocated $15,000 to the Chanticleer, but an amendment suggested by junior Cameron Tripp, senator for residential life, modified that number to $20,000.
“Yearbooks are luxury goods whose production costs should not be entirely covered in the student activities fee,” Li said when introducing the amendment. “However, complete defunding was not an option because we recognize that the Chanticleer is a student group, and those students who work on it are benefitting and deserve to have a portion of their activities fee allocated to it.”
Jones said that the amendment is economically efficient and should save students money, since the Alumni Association has said that they will contribute $20,000 if DSG funds the same amount. She said that because the yearbook will be subsidized by DSG, Duke students will pay less for yearbooks than those at peer institutions like Harvard, Princeton and Columbia universities, where yearbooks can cost as much as $130.
The amendment reversed the decision made by the Finance Oversight and Appeals Committee, which had upheld SOFC’s allocation of $56,847 to the Chanticleer.
“The Committee felt funding this amount was worthwhile because Chanticleer has made a lot of strides in recent years,” said junior Joyce Lau, current chair of the SOFC. “The Alumni Office’s additional contribution would have meant that the yearbook would have been free for all those that opted in.”
This year, 92 percent of seniors said that they would like a yearbook when asked in an email. Hansra pointed out, however, that no alternative option—such as using that money to fund other organizations—was presented in the survey.
Sophomore Michael Pelle, senator for equity and outreach, supported the allocation of the $56,847, adding that it makes the most sense in terms of economical efficiency to have students finance the Chanticleer in their activities fee and then receive a free yearbook as a senior.
He said that the price of yearbooks would rise substantially—making Duke yearbooks costs similar to those at peer institutions—if the yearbook producers found out that the number of seniors purchasing yearbooks was not guaranteed.
In other business:
An amendment from Gente Aprendiendo para Nuevas Oportunidades—a program offering free English tutoring for Hispanic adults—asking SOFC to provide $600 for a scrapbook was approved by a vote of 19 to 16. The money was originally not provided by SOFC because the scrapbook is considered a "giveaway."
The Inferno’s request for money for prizes, non-revenue sports tailgates and UNC Game sign contest was also turned down.
“Approving the amendment would set a bad precedent,” said sophomore Lavanya Sunder, vice president for services. “It would imply that athletics are more important than other student groups. We don’t need to incentivize students to go to sporting events, especially when they might be more likely to go those than things like service-learning events”
The Senate unanimously funded the chartering of four new groups—Develle Dish, Duke PrePA, Let's Be Well Red and Resound Magazine.