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DSG rejects quad-based elections

At its final meeting of the year Wednesday night, Duke Student Government overwhelmingly rejected several proposed bylaw amendments that would have instituted sweeping changes to the organization.

The most debated issue was Executive Vice President-elect Justin Ford's proposal to change the system of voting on West Campus from a general election to a quad-based election, in which students would vote for one candidate from their own quad to represent them. Each quad would be allotted a certain number of legislator spots, based on student population.

Ford said under the current system, legislators feel no attachment to their constituencies and that DSG is ill-equipped to handle quad-based issues.

The proposal was also an attempt to recoup authority on residential life issues, an area in which DSG lost serious ground this year to Campus Council, after Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said he would look first to the latter organization on such matters.

"We don't have any purview on residential life because we don't have residential-based voting," Ford said.

In voting the measure down 23-12, opponents said the proposed system would limit the number of students with a true interest in DSG from winning election because of legislator caps in each quad, as well as create a body dominated by underclassmen, especially next year with all sophomores living on West. Legislators also opposed a move to combine North Campus with Central Campus, and to decrease the number of at-large positions from 10 to five.

DSG also defeated a proposal by Attorney General Elizabeth Kreul-Starr to give unsuccessful presidential candidates the opportunity to run for one of the vice president positions, by separating the two races by almost a month. The senior said it is unfortunate that every year presidential candidates that could offer valuable knowledge and experience to the organization as vice presidents are ineligible to run for the office.

But legislators and executives argued that such a move had the potential to decrease student voter turnout, allow for endorsements of vice presidential candidates by presidents-elect and drastically increase the applicant pool for president, leading to runoffs and small pluralities.

"When you run for election, you need to run for the position you are most qualified for," added junior Troy Clair, incoming vice president for student affairs.

Other proposals by Kreul-Starr were passed, however. In response to Tuesday's disputed Class Officer elections--in which four candidates sent out an e-mail asking for support from over 1,600 students--DSG adopted a rule in which all presidential candidates must adhere to University policy, including the Office for Institute Technology's regulations on sending mass e-mails, while campaigning.

Legislators unanimously passed an election bylaw amendment that will establish a public forum in which DSG presidential candidates will respond to questions about their platform. The forum, as well as individual candidate statements, will be broadcast on Cable 13.

IN OTHER BUSINESS: Sophomore Priscilla Mpasi was confirmed as next year's director of student services, and freshman Philip Kurian was approved as Student Funding Task Force chair. Mpasi is a former legislative pro-tempore and Kurian is currently a legislator.

The Facilities and Athletics Committee, chaired by sophomore Matt Slovik, was awarded DSG's committee of the year internal award.