The Duke Student Government Senate voted to launch a pilot program for senators to act as ambassadors to student groups—a move designed to facilitate greater communication between undergraduates and student government. 

Sponsored by Chief of Staff Kushal Kadakia, a sophomore, and sophomore Jackson Dellinger, senator for Durham and regional affairs, the statute will take effect Spring 2017. Through the legislation, which passed by a 34 to 24 vote, each student group will be assigned a senator to act as a liaison for the group. The goal is to ensure that students are aware of the services DSG offers, and to allow senators to advocate on the behalf of their assigned groups for budgetary decisions. 

“Jackson and I are super excited this got passed,” Kadakia said. “We think this is a really good step forward to continue all the work that we have done this year to reaffirm our relationships with the groupsthat we have already had relationships with, and we think this will go a long way in helping student groups that we are currently not connected with get access to the resources they need.”

Formalizing the relationship between a student group and its DSG ambassador would consist of the senator meeting with the group's executive board and then attending a general body meeting for introductions. The senator would then explain what relevant resources DSG has to offer. 

The statute's sponsors noted that groups would not be forced to accept the offer of an ambassador, but that they would be available if the group wanted one. There are currently more groups than senators available, so multiple groups will be assigned to the senators, Dellinger indicated. 

“If you want us, we are here for you,” he added. 

However, critics of the legislation took issue with the process and standards by which a senator would be assigned to a group. The original wording of the proposed legislation indicated that priority would be given to senators who were already active members of the group. 

But sophomore Josh Curtis, senator for academic affairs, proposed an amendment changing this standard. He said this level of personal involvement would curtail the senator's ability to serve a professional role.

“This ambassador position shouldn’t be a lobbying position,” Curtis said. 

The amendment failed, but Dellinger eventually adjusted the wording of the legislation to encompass other factors in addition to club membership, such as what position the senator actually holds in the club. 

“The key thing is that this pilot program is a step forward for DSG to increase its accountability to and relationship with student groups,” Kadakia said. “So we are really pleased and excited about this.”

In other business:

The Senate heard the first reading of new rules for line monitors in K-Ville this year. The proposed changes include that no drinking games be allowed pursuant to administrative policy and that tents be store-bought. Senators will vote on the rules next week.

Budgetary statutes recommended by Student Organization Funding Committee for Inside Joke and Conservation Tech were also approved.