Duke Student Government President Keizra Mecklai has vetoed $40,000 of funding for the Chanticleer, Duke’s student yearbook, but other DSG officials plan to sue Mecklai in the DSG Judiciary to stop her veto.
Last Wednesday, DSG Senate voted to fund the Chanticleer 19-19. DSG Executive Vice President John Guarco, a junior, broke the tie and voted to fund the Chanticleer. The annual budget as passed by the Senate would contribute $20,000 in funding and the surplus would contribute another $20,000 in funding. Mecklai, a senior, exercised the executive veto power granted by the DSG Constitution for the first time during her presidency Sunday to deny the Chanticleer both funding allocations. Guarco and Tanner Lockhead, vice president of Durham and regional affairs, have said that they will sue Mecklai to ensure that the Chanticleer is funded.
“I believe that funding the Chanticleer will take enough money out of the programming fund this year and in years to come that it will make it impossible for [Student Organization Funding Committee] to do their job funding worthy student groups for their programs,” Mecklai wrote in an email.
SOFC provides for chartered student group expenditures in the annual budget and through the student programming fund, which are both paid for by student activities fees. SOFC Chair Nikhil Gavai, a senior, previously noted that money from the annual budget funding can pay for things that are not open to all students, whereas money from the programming fund pays for events that are open to the entire student body. Funding the Chanticleer from the annual budget would reduce the amount of funding available for student programming next year. Earlier this year, Gavai had to request funds from the surplus fund because of shortages in the student programming fund.
DSG Senate has an opportunity to overturn Mecklai’s veto with a two-thirds majority, but for now, Guarco and Lockhead plan to sue Mecklai for her decision.
“We believe there are discrepancies entwined within our bylaws and constitution that must be prudently addressed by the members of the Judiciary,” Guarco wrote in an email. “As such, we are introducing a case to the Judiciary to clarify the legality of President Keizra Mecklai’s decision to use a line-item veto.”
During the last DSG elections, the student body had the opportunity to vote for an “informational, non-binding referendum” regarding funding for the Chanticleer. Roughly 81 percent of voters wanted to continue giving a free edition of Chanticleer to seniors, funded by $14 of every student’s yearly activities fee. However, the budgetary statue and annual budget line item would have acted as a subsidy, instead of fully funding the Chanticleer as the referendum proposed.
Mecklai wrote that the referendum implied that all students wanted a free yearbook, but that the funding would only partially pay for the Chanticleer for two years.
“Since the Chanticleer legislation was only passed by one vote this year—when it was only $40,000, I am not convinced that the senate will vote to continue to fund the Chanticleer in the future, which means that all Duke students will pay for one or two classes to get free yearbooks,” Mecklai wrote. “I think this is unethical.”