DUU execs reply to DSG referendum

Members of Duke University Union's Administrative Board called for "measured consideration" and greater student input into Duke Student Government's proposed increase in the student activities fee Tuesday.

After spending much of their meeting Tuesday night discussing the proposal-which was submitted as a letter to the student body by DSG's Executive Board in The Chronicle Tuesday-Union leaders drafted a unanimously approved statement on the issue. DUU's statement was sent to DSG President Jordan Giordano and others and decried DSG for not engaging campus leaders in a discussion about the referendum, which is slated to be voted on by the student body Sept. 15.

Also Tuesday, DSG Executive Vice President Sunny Kantha, a senior, clarified that the fee's increase would not be $25 compounding per semester-he said DSG leaders misspoke in the letter-but rather increase $50 per year over the next two years. The current fee at $222 per year would increase to $272 in the 2009-2010 academic year, and then to $322 for the following year-ultimately increasing the current annual fee by $100.

In their statement, Union officials said DSG leaders needed to clarify how they plan to allocate the increased funds between student groups through the Student Organization Finance Committee-a subsidiary of DSG-and their own initiatives, which include an estimated $180,000 car rental service and $80,000 bus tracking system that DSG leaders said they hope to get started in this year.

"Any proposals to be financed by an increase in the student activities fee should include a detailed assessment of costs beyond a set of nominal values," the statement reads. "At this point, we believe that a discussion regarding student priorities on campus is vital."

Kantha said DUU leaders seemed to be expressing dissatisfaction that the increase would be allocated to SOFC rather than to the Union, which he said was unfounded.

"We believe the over 300 student organizations on campus are in greater need of funding than DUU, which seems to be relatively well-funded at this point-and that's why we believe it's important for the activities fee increase to go to SOFC and not DUU," he said.

Duke's Executive Vice President Tallman Trask and Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta both support the increase, Kantha said, adding that it would likely be approved by administrators if students pass the proposal in two weeks.

Giordano, a senior, could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night.

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