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DSG discontinues funding Zagster, debates alcohol amnesty policy in Wednesday meeting

<p>Duke Student Government discussed&nbsp;a potential adjustment to the Alcohol Amnesty policy on campus in its Wednesday meeting.&nbsp;</p>

Duke Student Government discussed a potential adjustment to the Alcohol Amnesty policy on campus in its Wednesday meeting. 

In its Wednesday meeting, the Duke Student Government Senate voted to discontinue funding for the on-campus bike share service Zagster. 

For the past three years, DSG has subsidized Zagster in conjunction with Parking and Transportation Services. A budgetary statute presented by first-year Nick Santangelo, senator for services, proposed that DSG would contribute $5,000 to the program and PTS would provide $30,000. The Senate voted against extending that funding, but that does not necessarily mean the end of the Zagster program if PTS chooses to cover DSG's contribution as well. 

Advocating for the statute, Santangelo provided statistics that Zagster has more than 1,000 active users and more than 7,000 rides since the start of the program in 2014. Despite these statistics, several senate members called into question the program's utility on campus, arguing that campus is not particularly bike-friendly.

"DSG has a tendency to spend money on things that they think are good uses of their expenditures when in reality it doesn’t have a tangible impact on the student body, and the students really don’t want it," said senior Tristan Haas, senator for social culture. "They also have a tendency to double down when they make mistakes. Like you saw tonight, we spent a lot of money in the past, so they were using that as a rationale to continue spending money."

Haas also questioned the accuracy of the data presented.

"There are a lot of doubts about the actual numbers we are getting," he said. "We didn’t get any statistics about actual users, and if you looked at the anecdotal data from everyone here, most people did not know users. Unless there has been a  huge explosive growth in the amount of users within the past few weeks, then I doubt those numbers."

Sophomores Jackson Dellinger, senator for Durham and regional affairs, and Kayla Thompson, vice president for social culture, informed DSG about their work with administrators to alter the alcohol amnesty policy on campus.

The current policy provides amnesty to the student who needs Duke Emergency Medical Services and the student who calls EMS. The idea proposed by Dellinger and Thompson would give amnesty not only to the mentioned parties but also the group that was running the event in question. 

“The change that is being proposed is to extend the amnesty policy to groups and organizations so that if a group that is hosting a party has to call EMS to a student who attends their party, then that group will not face formal disciplinary actions under the conditions that they provide food and water at their event and a certain percentage of their members are party monitors,” Thompson said. “This amnesty policy is mainly there to ensure the safety of all students.”

The Senate also had a first reading for an amendment—introduced by Chief of Staff Kushal Kadakia, a sophomore, and senior Tanner Lockhead, vice president for Durham and regional affairs—that would reduce the number of seats on the Board of Trustees reserved for members of DSG. As it currently stands, eight positions on Board of Trustees committees are filled by DSG vice presidents and the president, with three slots allocated to at-large members from the student body. 

The updated proposal would place one DSG member on each of the five committees and reserve a seat for the DSG president, with the remaining five seats allocated to the student body. Representatives from the student body would apply and be selected by a committee. The Senate will vote on this issue next week.

"Serving on the Board of Trustees is an incredible honor and a really great opportunity to engage in university service," Kadakia said. "However, I think the way the current process is structured isn't as accessible to students as it could be. I believe this by-law change would lead to a more inclusive experience."

The Senate also approved an election statute, similar to the election statute approved in the Fall. The election statute again stated that any candidate running for DSG cannot use their access to a student listserv to promote a candidate or campaign.

In other business:

DSG moved to approve budgetary statutes recommended by the Student Organization Funding Committee for the Catholic Center, Consulting Club, Lunar New Year Festival, TedxDuke and Zeta Phi Beta Charity Auction Gala.

They also approved funding for a new group called Global Public Health Brigades and for the Duke Emergency Medical Services to purchase new outbags to store and carry medical supplies.

DSG approved and swore in a new chief justice of the DSG Judiciary, junior Dev Dabke. 

Correction: Thompson and Dellinger informed DSG about their work with administrators to change the University's alcoholamnesty policy. They did not present the idea for the first time to DSG at its Wednesday meeting, as an earlier version of this article indicated. The Chronicle regrets the error. 


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