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DSG OKs budget, hears final reports

In the swan song of another rocky and controversial year for Duke Student Government, the Legislature Wednesday night overrode a presidential veto, postponed a resolution until December, heard a presidential report, approved the charter of a new club and narrowly slid by a quorum call that, if it failed, would have resulted in an emergency meeting Saturday.

President Joshua Jean-Baptiste explained why he pocket-vetoed next year's budget by not signing it, stating that it failed to meet 100 percent of DSG's portion of the budget, resulting in an $11,711.12 shortfall.

Student Organization Finance Committee Chair Pushpa Raja explained that DSG is allowed to fund 100 percent of non-executive fund code requests, but only 75 percent of executive fund codes. When the DSG budget was passed, many of DSG's request were under an executive fund status, resulting in the shortfall.

Upon closer examination, those fund codes should fall under non-executive status, Raja said.

To make up for the shortfall, but to ensure that the budget was passed during DSG's final meeting, the legislators needed first to override Jean-Baptiste's pocket veto. Then they had to approve a budgetary statute that authorized the transfer of the shortfall from DSG's administrative fund to its general account, which they did unanimously.

Prior to the vote, members approved the SOFC Act of 2003, which allows the funding committee greater flexibility in allocating funds to student groups.

In his end of the year report, Jean-Baptiste, who has been publicly silent since his arrest for assault in March, praised the organization for a productive and hard-working year and apologized for not talking regularly with members of the Legislature.

"During inauguration last year, I promised that this year would have many ups and downs, and it did," he said. "But in many ways, you learn from those ups and downs."

Jean-Baptiste cited smooth elections, the beginning of discussions regarding restructuring the organization and the creation of the K-ville Kares concert - which never materialized but opened up the possibility for future concerts in Cameron Indoor Stadium - as some of the most notable achievements in his tenure.

The senior did not directly address the charges that will bring him to court May 6 or the rumored squabbling that has plagued the DSG executive committee, but he said he was a strong believer that some of the best lessons in life can be learned when someone encounters hardships.

"Never be afraid of going through tough times," Jean-Baptiste told legislators, encouraging them to stay involved in the organization next year although they "might not have had the best of times this year."

The Legislature also postponed its vote on the retention of ARAMARK Corp. as the main provider of dining services on campus until a meeting in December. Under ARAMARK's contract, DSG must re-approve the company's status each spring.

If such a resolution were voted down, however, Duke Dining Services would be left with too short a period of time to find a new food provider, DUSDAC co-chair Isaac Dolgovskij explained.

"With the vote in December, Dining Services would have more than nine months to find someone new if the retention was not approved," he said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS: The Legislature narrowly approved the charter of Advertising@Duke, a new club established to provide mediums of advertising campus events. Before the vote could occur, Vice President for Community Interaction Thaniyyah Ahmad, whose committee won committee of the year during the meeting, made a quorum call. Had quorum not been reached, the Legislature would have had to hold an emergency meeting Saturday. Quorum was reached, however, with 27 members of 54 in attendance. The charter passed 20-13.