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Leaders release funding plans

After years of complaints about inefficiency in the system for funding student programming, administrators and student leaders yesterday outlined a restructured process they hope will streamline the allocation of funds.

The proposed new structure for student funding would pool all programming money under the control of a 15-member Student Organization Funding Council and eight subject-specific subcommittees. The subcommittees would each embody student groups with similar interests: cultural and religious; political; social; athletic, health and recreation; publications; performance; academic, pre-professional and intellectual; and community service.

Duke Student Government President C.J. Walsh and Executive Vice President Drew Ensign will officially unveil the preliminary plans at the Legislature's meeting tonight.

Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said the proposed system would be "more inclusive, more representative and more effective," but stressed that the plan Walsh and Ensign will detail is an initial template.

"This is not a model ready for implementation; it's really just a place to begin," Moneta said.

Under the proposed system, DSG would elect the funding council's chair--a position almost identical to the current Student Organization Finance Committee chair--in April. The other 14 members would include a Campus Council representative, a Duke University Union representative, four at-large members elected by the DSG Legislature, and representatives from each of the eight subcommittees. Moneta would appoint a nonvoting staff adviser.

Each subcommittee would submit an anual proposal to the funding council, which would then compile the overall budget that would have to be approved by DSG.

Other than administrative funds--such as the President's Fund and the newly-created Cultural Fund--the new SOFC would be the only source for funding for student groups. In the past, some have called for consolidating administrative funds with other sources, but the additional funds will remain available while the new system is tested.

The portion of funds from house and quad councils and Campus Council that typically go to outside groups--an estimated $45,000--would be combined with DSG's student fees, which this year totaled about $436,000. The Union would remain independent of the new SOFC and receive a portion of the student programming fee--$27 this year for a total budget of over $400,000.

The new system is intended to eliminate the often frantic and laborious scurry for programming funds from DSG and the various residential councils.

"Groups do not have to worry about running around to all the councils and breaking their backs to get funding," said junior Polentzi Narvarte, president of Spectrum Organization and member of a group of student leaders that has been working on the reorganization.

That group--which includes executive members of Campus Council, DSG, Spectrum and the Union--has been working closely in developing the plan with administrators in Student Affairs.

"I definitely think it's a move in the right direction," said Deb LoBiondo, assistant dean of student development. "The proposed new structure allows for a more streamlined funding system. It's a seamless opportunity for a group to get access to funds."

The student leaders stressed that the new system would help increase communication among student groups, encourage collaboration among similar organizations and increase the quality of events.

"Our goal is for groups to work more on planning and less on making sure the event goes up," said current SOFC Chair and junior Vinny Eng. He added that the first step in the process would be a purging of the student groups currently recognized by DSG. All groups will need to renew their charter or recognition early next semester, and in doing so, pick one of the eight subcommittees to join.

A final version of the new system is still far off, however. DSG will hold information sessions by subcommittee in January, and in February, the subcommittees will meet to discuss organizing and electing leadership. By March, the final plan--revised by student input--will be announced, and DSG should consider the proposal by the end of the year. If implemented, the 2001-2002 academic year will serve as a one-year trial period.

"It's high time to get this thing in gear," said Walsh, a senior.