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Officials shelve funding plan

Two months after releasing a plan to restructure the funding system for student groups and programming, student leaders announced that most of the plan will not be ready for implementation next year.

Student Organization Finance Committee Chair Vinny Eng said student officials and administrators will be unable to iron out all of the details before this year's budgeting process begins in April.

The proposed new structure calls for the creation of a 15-member funding council and eight subject-specific subcommittees comprised of student groups with similar interests. Under the plan, the subcommittees would apply for funds from the council each April.

In addition, groups would no longer be permitted to request funds from house, quad and campus councils. The money those groups normally distribute would be folded into the new funding council's annual budget.

Eng said only the latter detail will be in place for the 2001-2002 year.

Next year, groups will be able to receive funding only from SOFC, member dues, the University and cultural funds and academic departments.

"This was not for me about a specific financing system," said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs. "This was about getting recognition of the limitations of the current financing and governmental system. We've really moved progressively on some of the major issues. The big picture changes are well underway."

The portion of funds, an estimated $45,000, from Campus Council that typically go to outside groups, will be combined with Duke Student Government's student fees, which this year totaled about $436,000. The Duke University Union, which has a $400,000 total budget this year, will remain independent of the new funding council and receive a portion of the student programming fee.

Some student group leaders said they were disappointed the changes had been delayed. Senior Matt Schuneman, president of Hoof 'n' Horn, said he thought the subcommittee method of funding would help performance groups secure resources.

Other students, however, have expressed concern, especially over the consolidation of funds. "It will be hard especially for a group like us because we are not a cultural group, we don't put on any show that's for the University and we don't really promote anything," said Masayo Nobe, president of the Duke Mock Trial club. "We're a participatory group. We're very dedicated and very passionate about what we do, but it is hard for groups like us to get money."

Nobe, a senior, said that in the past the club has relied upon SOFC and house and quad councils for the majority of its funding. She said she worries that the club will have few options, if the new system does not provide enough funding in its yearly budgetary process.

Eng said he is considering changing DSG bylaws so that SOFC can provide for more than 75 percent of a group's annual budget, the traditional limit of SOFC.

"We're going to try to provide as much of a group's budget as possible, but groups must realize that we are a student funding organization that must consider all student groups," Eng said.

The first step in the distribution of the funds is to recharter student groups recognized by DSG--a process that usually takes place in April.

"I wanted to do it earlier so that we could bring more groups into the loop," said Eng, who set up an online application to help facilitate the rechartering process.

Eng, a junior, set an initial deadline of Feb. 22, but said groups will still be able to recharter and hand in their budgets in March.

The online rechartering will also help create a master list of student groups that will be made available to students, the Office of University Life, the Event Advising Center, the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Information Technology and academic departments. Eng added that the Office of Student Development hopes to use the information to keep track of groups' faculty advisers.