Duke Student Government Senate adjourned early after senators left and deprived the Senate of a quorum during a debate about surplus spending proposals during its meeting Wednesday.

The Senate debated proposals to spend some of its roughly $200,000 surplus on a voter registration program and nap pods. The meeting began with a number of absent senators, however, and senators continued to leave throughout the meeting. By the time quorum was taken, fewer than 30 senators were left in Senate, according to attendance records provided by DSG. At the start of the meeting, more than a dozen senators were already absent and more left over the course of the meeting. After freshmen Josh Curtis, senator for academic affairs, and Michael Brunetti, senator for services, left, the Senate did not have a quorum to vote on the statute to buy the nap pods. As a result, the Senate adjourned early.

DSG President Keizra Mecklai, a senior, expressed disappointment with the senators that left because a major reason for the student body’s frustration with DSG was its inability to spend surplus.

“This is not [the reason] why these students were elected, which is to represent the will of their constituents and I wish they really reevaluate the way that they see this organization and their role in this organization because clearly they chose selfishness over their job,” she said.

She added that she would like to see the senators who left early referred for judicial review.

Many senators expressed concern that senators left to deprive DSG of a quorum, and senior Brian Hopkins, senator for academic affairs and president pro tempore, encouraged senators not to give a comment to The Chronicle. Senior Jay Sullivan, senator for equity and outreach, however, expressed frustration with DSG.

“This meeting showed more than ever the fact that we’re rejecting our responsibility to do our jobs,” said Sullivan, senator for equity and outreach. “Responsibility is what we need in DSG and we currently don’t have it.”

VIDEO: Final quorum call and adjournment

Brunetti and Curtis wrote in emails that they walked out, depriving the Senate of a quorum, because they had issues with the debate on surplus spending.

Brunetti wrote in an email on Wednesday that he left because he was disappointed with how the meeting was conducted.

“We were running in circles on the matter, ignoring parliamentary procedure frequently, and resorting to threats,” Brunetti wrote. “[It was] not a conducive environment for deciding on how to spend 10 dollars, never mind tens of thousands of dollars."

Curtis added that the quality of the debate was not appropriate for the quantity of money being allocated.

"Senators were shutting down all attempted questions and caucuses intended to fix the statute's numerous flaws, or at least to understand why this was the best possible option," he wrote. "If a body, barely at quorum, is going to throw half a semester's worth of programming at two glorified reclining chairs, our debate better be on point.  And frankly, it wasn't."

Before the meeting adjourned, Hopkins said that students were very receptive to the idea that DSG would finally spend surplus.

“[The surplus] is probably the only thing that I’ve seen students actually get excited about in four years,” Hopkins said.

The first proposal presented to Senate was to allocate $9,500 to Turbovote—an online service that allows students to register to vote online and receive reminders about voting dates—for a three-year contract.  Senators had concerns about whether Turbovote would actually disengage students because it adds intermediary steps, which would add burden to the voter registration process. Another concern was about the fact that the contract is only for three years, when the previous intention of surplus spending was for capital expenditures that last for a longer time than three years.

“If there is a way to institutionalize voter registration at Duke, this is the way to do it,” said freshman Jackson Dellinger, senator for Durham and regional affairs.

The Turbovote proposal was tabled to next week’s meeting, so that senators could garner institutional support. It was at this time that talks about having quorum were initiated. Mecklai noted that the Senate would be hearing proposals for the next couple of meetings, so it should try to be more efficient in the process of approving proposals.

The second proposal presented was to spend $19,513.70 for two nap pods from Metronaps. Hopkins cited success of nap pod programs at other schools, such as the University of Miami.

Senators had concerns about the amount of money that was being spent for only two nap pods, but the debate on the issue did not finish because the Senate lost a quorum.

In other business:

Senate heard a presentation from Jack Boyd, president-elect of the Alumni Association, and Sterly Wilder, associate vice president for alumni affairs, on the services the organization provides and how to connect better with students.

Senate unanimously approved SOFC funding for events by the African Conversations Club and the Environmental Alliance.

Hopkins presented a bylaw and constitutional revision that would move the Senate president pro tempore elections to the end of the yearly legislative session and only allow senators who have previously served to vote, as to not allow newly elected senators to vote. This change would also allow all senators who have previously served in Senate at any time to be able run, not just those who served the year before.