Duke Student Government's Research Unit told the Senate at a Wednesday meeting that buses only operate at 58 percent of their potential capacity. 

The Senate heard reports from DSGRU about bus transit. Using bus ridership data for three weeks in February and March obtained from Parking and Transportation Services, DSGRU compared current bus capacity to manufacturer capacity. They concluded that "full buses" were on average operating at 58 percent of their potential maximum capacity. 

Based on a survey of 85 students, about 90 percent of respondent "standing riders" said they wore backpacks. The unit suggested boosting student capacity through a change in transportation policy asking riders to remove backpacks and place them on the floor. 

Executive Vice President Ilana Weisman, a senior, said she was looking forward to DSGRU’s forthcoming research.

“What I’m actually really excited for next year is their longitudinal study I commissioned last year," she said. "They’re going to be looking at metrics of belongingness at Duke, if people feel included in the Duke community based off both traditional demographic markers as well as affiliation status and activities at Duke."

Senators also selected what projects DSGRU would research next year. These included studying the effectiveness of resident assistant and first-year advisory counselor programs, the effectiveness of the University's financial aid program and whether "blind linking" should be implemented in the housing model. 

"Blind linking" would allow first-years to opt into living with their dorm residents the following year on West Campus in a random dorm. The dorm links would change each year, so that an East Campus dorm would not necessarily get linked to the same West Campus dorm each year.

Senior Basil Seif, vice president for residential life, said Housing, Dining and Residence Life was interested in implementing the program, but did not have any data on student interest. 

"I personally would have absolutely linked from my freshman dorm to upperclassman dorm,” Weisman said. “So I hope that information is useful for DSG in the future when they’re lobbying for new policies.”

The Senate also approved a budgetary statute to fund prizes in a competition to create a DSG app. A similar statute was previously rejected by the Senate last December. 

Senator for Services Monika Dharia, a sophomore, and junior Lizzie Speed, senator for residential life, said there were several differences between the original budgetary statute and the approved version. These changes included a greater focus on obtaining a beta product rather than a finished product, for example. 

“We’re focusing on viability first and then student preference,” Speed said.

In other business:

The Senate approved a statute to screen the documentary film "Not Alone,which discusses depression and suicide, in Griffith Theater.

It also reconfirmed members of the DSG Judiciary and confirmed the DSGRU directors for next year.