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DSG OKs 3 questions for referendum

At the Duke Student Government Legislature's busiest and most heated meeting of the year, three referendum questions were approved to appear on DSG's Feb. 22 executive election.

The first question will ask voters whether the executive members of Campus Council should be elected by direct vote. The second will ask if students agree with the suggested smoking ban in campus dormitories. The third will ask whether housing fees should be increased by $6 a month in order to bring back the DTV Movie Channel, which was removed from Duke cable line-ups in August.

However, the Legislature rejected a proposal by DSG President C.J. Walsh and his chief of staff Evan Davis to ask voters whether DSG or Campus Council should be the ultimate representative authority on residential life issues.

Executive Vice President Drew Ensign unsuccessfully defended the question, as legislators argued that DSG and Campus Council should decide on a clear definition of "residential life issues" before such a question could be posed.

Earlier this week, Walsh and Davis proposed the first two questions, which were approved at Wednesday's meeting. Tuesday, they decided to withdraw the questions because they felt it was not DSG's place to query students on the election process of another campus organization and because the administration has already ruled in favor of a smoking ban.

However, DSG Vice President for Student Affairs Joshua Jean-Baptiste and newly-elected legislator Justin Ford reproposed them.

"Campus Council is not held accountable for their actions," said Jean-Baptiste, a junior. "[Campus Council President Vik Devisetty] is on a power trip right now."

Ford, a junior, argued that the smoking issue was at the crux of the current debate between the two governing bodies, and that students should have the right to voice their opinion on the issue.

Devisetty, who could not be reached for comment, has vocally championed a smoking ban, and said his organization's recommendation was based on overwhelming student input gathered by quad and Campus Council leaders.

Devisetty, a senior, has also maintained that Campus Council has a mandate from the student body, even though its executive council is elected by current council members.

Davis, who is a Chronicle sports associate editor, said it was regrettable that his proposed question was not passed.

"I think that the one I supported was the most important one because that gets at the underlying issue for all of this," said Davis, a junior. "That was the one that would help address not only this problem, but also problems in the future."

Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Moneta called Davis and Walsh's question, Tuesday, a "foolish approach to resolving role diffusion," and reaffirmed his belief that Campus Council is better equipped to handle residential life issues.

In his attempt to reverse the smoking ban decision, Walsh appointed sophomore Randy Hunt as DSG surgeon general, a position Walsh created on a temporary basis.

"Randy is a confirmed smoker and a member of Kappa Alpha Order," said Walsh of Hunt's qualifications.

IN OTHER BUSINESS: Student Organization Finance Committee Chair Vinny Eng announced that his committee will maintain its 75 percent limit in funding student groups' budgets in the upcoming budgeting season.

In addition to Ford, the Legislature elected juniors Ellinor Coder, Graham McWhorter, Doug Ross, Ashley Ruff, sophomore Donald Wine and freshmen Scott Lemmon and Crystal Sanders to fill spots vacated by legislators at the end of fall semester. Freshman Meera Patel will fill a vacant spot on the SOFC.