In a meeting Wednesday night, Duke Student Government Senate allocated money to purchase massage chairs and a service to help students register to vote.
The chairs and the voting service represent the result of an effort by DSG to spend some of the approximately $167,000 currently in the surplus fund. The five chairs will cost nearly $11,000 and the voting service—TurboVote—will cost $6,750 for two years of the service, and will help register students, monitor voter turnout and send reminders to help students remember to vote.
“We plan to spend $100,000 by the end of the year,” said senior Brian Hopkins, president pro tempore and chair of the surplus committee.
Hopkins—along with Senator for Academic Affairs Kushal Kadakia and Jackson Dellinger, senator for Durham and regional affairs, both freshmen—introduced the budgetary statutes which allocated the money.
The statutes were the result of several Senate sessions of debate. Last week, a statute to buy two nap pods was not voted on after senator for services Michael Brunetti and senator for academic affairs Josh Curtis, both freshmen, walked out of Senate and deprived the body of a quorum.
“The nap pod movement kind of changed into a motion for a meditation and mindfulness room,” said Hopkins. “However, that would require lots of smaller purchases, so it’s still a ways off.”
Other things mentioned by Senate in debate tonight include a new bus stop near Smith Warehouse or Swift Avenue. Hopkins also noted that due to the high price of the two stops, it was likely that DSG would only be able to fund one of the two stops.
Senate also passed an amendment to the DSG Constitution which states that the Student Organization Finance Committee Chair will be elected from within the committee by committee members. The SOFC Chair has been elected by the student body in the same election as the DSG president and executive vice president since 2014, and a constitutional amendment was passed confirming the position as elected last year.
Junior Tanner Lockhead, vice president for Durham and regional affairs—who introduced the amendment—explained that even though it might sound like DSG is taking power out of the hands of the student body, the move makes sense because the chair position is apolitical.
"The role of the Chair is to execute bylaws, follow procedure, and provide logistical support—the role is intentionally apolitical," he said. "Senate approval of SOFC decisions happens for a reason: so students can have input after the bylaws have been followed to a T."
The amendment will be voted on by the student body in the April 12-13 election, which will also elect senators and committee vice presidents.
In other business:
Senate voted to keep Brunetti and Curtis in bad standing for their walk-out during debate last week. Brunetti and Curtis were also confirmed as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A representative from the Duke Alliance for Voting Empowerment spoke in support of TurboVote prior to the passing of the budgetary statute.
Senate voted to fund two student programming requests: $2,000 for On Tap’s dance showcase and $2,260 for Momentum’s dance showcase.
Senate also voted on three Financial Oversight and Appeals Committee decisions. It voted to override FOAC in order to give $10,000 to the Arts Annex Advisory Board for artists for a mural; to uphold FOAC’s decision to allocate $3,220 to Swing Dance for their showcase; and to uphold FOAC’s decision to only fund part of an Alpha Kappa Alpha charity event. The $10,000 for the Arts Annex Advisory Board was funded by the surplus fund rather than the programming fund.
Junior Michael Norwalk, vice president for facilities and the environment, introduced a budgetary statute to allocate $625 from the surplus fund for a mural in front of the Bryan Center, and Senator for Services Shivani Shah, a sophomore, introduced a budgetary statute to allocate $3,557 from the surplus fund for an Eprint station in the Biological Sciences building. Both statutes passed.
Correction: This article was updated to clarify that totals allocated for TurboVote and massage chairs as well as correct the titles of Hopkins and Lockhead. The Chronicle regrets the errors.
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