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Cultural committee allocates programming funds

For the second year in a row, a cultural group funding committee distributed $100,000 for cultural programming on campus.

Among the 82 groups that submitted proposals, the committee approved funding for 17 of them. An additional $45,000 from the University Fund for campus organizations will also be distributed over the fall semester.

The cultural fund, established by President Nan Keohane in May 2001 as a response to the Duke Student Movement, supplements the funding cultural groups receive from Duke Student Government for their signature programs, such as the Asian Students Association's Lunar New Year Celebration and Mi Gente's Latino Heritage Month.

The committee looked at the strength of a proposal, how well the proposal was written and the group's current budget, including money from DSG, to determine allocations. "We also asked for a way for the groups to evaluate their project," said Julian Sanchez, director of the Office of Intercultural Affairs. "They will submit their evaluation after the event and we will use it to help decisions for next year."

The committee asked for more submissions last week and applications for the next allocation are due Oct. 1.

In an effort to increase student representation on the committee, Sanchez will this time add sophomore Philip Kurian, who is heading up the task force for DSG funding. Sanchez, who chairs the committee, joins five faculty members and employees, and just one student, DSG President Joshua-Jean Baptiste. Last year's committee featured seven students. He explained that because the committee members were chosen in the summer, it was difficult to find students.

Diya, which received over $20,000 in funding, submitted two proposals including a $23,000 request specifically for Awaaz. "[The committee] did a good job about fulfilling and accommodating our needs, and we're really happy about that," said Pratap Raya, Diya co-president.

ASA, which requested $31,000 for the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month as well as the Lunar New Year Celebration, was still pleased with their $20,000 allocation. "We received more for LNY this year than last, by about $2,000, but we believe that the increase will be nullified by the fact that LNY will be bigger and better this year, making it more costly," wrote ASA Fundraising Chair HuiKai Luu, in an e-mail.

Sanchez said that while funds help large, established groups produce their major events, not much is done to financially encourage smaller organizations. "We will need to use the University Fund to encourage smaller groups. Right now [the cultural fund] isn't doing much to encourage them," he said. "There may be a time when we need more money for when [we can encourage them] but it's working right now with the University Fund."

Sanchez added that in the future, individual organizations will need to find ways to augment their budget as the extent of their programming grows. "We can't keep up with that kind of growth with this budget," he said.


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