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Campus Council takes back $35K from SOFC

A divided Campus Council narrowly voted last week to bring back into the organization $35,000 in programming fees that had been transferred to Duke Student Government's Student Organization Finance Committee last year.

Student groups will still be able to apply for funds for their events, but Campus Council's newly revitalized finance committee will handle all requests, not SOFC.

With the voting members locked in a five-to-five tie with two abstentions, Campus Council President Andrew Nurkin broke the tie in favor of taking back the money. Nurkin could not be reached for comment.

The transfer last year was the first in a proposed series of steps to restructure the system of student group funding, intended to facilitate the distribution of funds through one organization and ease the often heavy burden of soliciting numerous funding sources for money.

However, student group leaders complained that SOFC's system was inefficient this year, said incoming Campus Council President Anthony Vitarelli, who voted against the take-back.

"[Groups said] there was a long delay between submitting funding proposals and the receipt of the money [from SOFC]," Vitarelli said. "But I think the larger problem is with money being consolidated in one specific place. If one organization does not receive money from SOFC, they could not apply to another place."

SOFC Chair Pushpa Raja said she has not been provided many details about Campus Council's decision, but she said it will not have a major impact on the distribution of programming funds.

"As long as the money is still available, student groups should be able to put on the same events. I don't think it will decrease the level of programming," Raja said.

She also defended the SOFC's process.

"We tried our best to get things through as fast as we can," she said. "There was definitely some time between meetings and the convening of the legislature, and things sometimes took a little while."

SOFC will still distribute $55,000 in programming funds next year, and its $421,696 budget passed Wednesday night is unaffected by the Campus Council move.

Vitarelli said he voted against taking the money from SOFC because it should have been afforded more than one year to iron out the kinks.

"The ideal is an efficient SOFC with a quick turnaround rate that funds valuable projects. I don't think that existed this year, but I think it was close," he said, adding that many of those who joined him in dissenting believe that it is not in Campus Council's mission to distribute funds.

Last year's proposed restructuring of the funding system for student groups and programming was shelved in February 2002 after only two months in consideration. It called 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 have applied for funds from the council each April.