At its Wednesday meeting, Duke Student Government Senate swore in new members, and leaders noted the diversity of the group.

Over the weekend, 44 new senators were chosen—12 through first-year elections and 32 through at-large selection—and were sworn in during Wednesday’s meeting. Executive Vice President Ilana Weisman, a senior, addressed the role of diversity when selecting new members during the at-large process, which appoints senators to seats that were not filled through elections, as well as those already allocated for appointment. Weisman also referred to a demographics survey that she conducted last year.

“The Senate was disproportionately white, male, high socioeconomic status—kind of your markers that are traditionally representative of having power were present in the Senate,” Weisman said. “This year, something that we went into the year thinking was that we really wanted a more diverse senate.”

Last week, the Senate voted down an amendment to the by-laws that would have reduced the size of the Senate by reducing the number of at-large members. Weisman said that sophomore Kristina Smith, senator for services, gave a compelling speech on how the amendment would reduce the diversity of the Senate. Smith and senior Kavita Jain, senator for academic affairs, were added to the selection committee that chose the 32 new senators, because of a change in the by-laws passed at last week’s meeting.

Weisman said that the process of at-large members was comprehensive and took into account several factors, such as internal biases.

“Is our Senate going to represent the student body at Duke?” Weisman said. “I think for the first time in a long time, we are.”

Weisman said she is optimistic for this year in other aspects, as well. She noted that DSG is starting new project management mechanisms and will be enforcing attendance, working toward a more efficient Senate and especially focusing on engagement and empowerment.

“What DSG should be doing is working for the students, and a lot of times, the [Executive Board] ends up dominating that,” Weisman said. “We want bottom-up senator-driven initiatives, senator-owned initiatives.”

In other business:

The Student Organization Funding Committee chartered three new groups, "The Bridge," Classics Collegium and Visions of Freedom, LLC.

The Senate approved SOFC’s decision to fund Kappa Alpha Order for a concert in conjunction with DevilsGate.

The Senate voted to uphold the Financial Oversight Advisory Committee’s recommendations for events for the Chemistry Majors Union and Challah for Hunger.

First-year Hal Lin, senator for services, was appointed to the Information Technology Advisory Committee. Sophomore Adam Bullock and senior Jessica Van Meir, both senators for equity and outreach, were appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.