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DSG Senate unanimously supports Saturday's protesters

At Duke Student Government Senate’s Wednesday meeting, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the People’s State of the University.

Various members of the coalition explained the significance of the resolution in advancing the specific initiatives that the group has already been working on. The resolution reinforces the coalition’s manifesto as a living document and referenced many groups on campus that have pledged support to the group. The coalition is composed of about 100 students and counting, with some of the members even within Senate.

“The Duke Student Government supports the People’s State of the University and commits itself to working with its coalition and imploring the Duke Administration to similarly commit itself to ensuring the proper actions are taken with deliberate speed to achieve the policies and reforms furthered by the People’s State of the University,” the resolution reads.

First-year Dalia Dichter, senator for academic affairs, asked clarification on what the word support meant in context of the Senate’s involvement.

Junior Sydney Roberts, a member of the coalition and also co-chair of The Chronicle's independent editorial board, said that the coalition was asking for DSG to extend a branch of support the coalition. Roberts said that the coalition wants to "create a Duke together through means, access to resources, people and things that we can all agree upon.”

Sophomore Gino Nuzzolillo added that the coalition implores the Senate to yield its representative power. 

What if a senator just wanted to support the coalition and not necessarily all of the initiatives within the resolution? Robles said that he would encourage such a senator to get involved. Because the resolution is a living document, it is designed to be continually amended to represent not just the voices of those currently within the coalition, but to best apply to the entire Duke community.

Students have the ability to offer suggestions to amend the initiatives of the resolution through the People’s State of the University’s social media platforms. On its Twitter and Facebook accounts, students can access forms to propose their changes, which the coalition will discuss and come to a decision together.

“Everything is collective,” Nuzzolillo said. “Everything is democratic.”

Senior Bryce Cracknell noted that the work of People’s State of the University can extend well beyond into the next semester and into years after that.

“This coalition represents justice for every marginalized group on this campus,” Cracknell said.

Members of People’s State of the University emphasized that the group has been working on the initiatives mentioned in the resolution for quite some time. However, working with the administration has brought some roadblocks.

“We need to sit with the president and other top administrators, so we can get the go ahead and so we don’t get stuck in the folks under them,” Cracknell said.

Roberts explained that the coalition would like to believe that, in the hearts of administrators, they want the same things as the coalition. However, because of the way the administration works, Roberts said, actions like those of the coalition are often met with red tape and have to weave through bureaucracy and the various levels of committees within the administration.

“Unfortunately, good ideas get lost in that process,” Roberts said. “Sometimes the only way to get those ideas across is to have a spectacle. The administration wasn’t too happy with it, but the conversation is happening now. Isn’t it?”

As the resolution entails various initiatives that might raise financial concerns, Cracknell responded that one of the exciting things about funding has been the alumni response. 

Nuzzolillo interjected that, with Duke’s multi-billion-dollar endowment, the University always has enough money. He referred to the creation of the Brodhead Center as an example of spending of that endowment.

In other business:

As discussed at last week’s meeting, Senate passed a budgetary statute and a by-law to establish a DSG quasi-endowment. Also from last week’s examination, the Senate by-law amendment on senatorial attendance passed. The amendment now refers to the House Rules instead of a statute, since the latter would have to be changed annually.

Junior Analese Bridges was confirmed as the DSG Judiciary chief justice next year. Associate Justices Alex Murphy and Ross Winston ran against her.

Senate also heard two presentations from DSG’s research unit—one on financial aid and the other on dietary restrictions on-campus.

Sophomore Jesse Doppelt and sophomore Shyam Pradheep delivered a presentation on an in-depth look into financial aid at Duke. The project discovered that housing and transportation costs seemed to be working well. However, summer storage expenses, the amount of internship funding and awareness could be improved, they reported.

The second project—presented by first-year Katie Orlin and sophomore Michael Model, who is also Blue Zone managing editor for The Chronicle—found that though dietary restrictions are met in terms of quantity, “students always complain about the quality of the food.” Halal food choices should be further investigated, in addition to the level of diverse food options necessary, they reported.

Sophomore Nick Santangelo, DSG treasurer, also presented seven questions submitted to DSGRU and one proposed by the group itself for the upcoming year. DSGRU recommended three of the questions on campus accessibility, student connections to identity groups and effectives of the K-Ville process.

Senate passed two budgetary statutes: one for $74.97 to fund Project Barbers for All Communities and another to provide Judiciary with $300 for their discussion refreshments and printing.

Senate unanimously passed StreetMed’s appeal of their recent SOFC programming allocation to have its event funded due to a technician “not properly” informing the group that it had to request to afford a projector necessary for the event.

Senate allocated–with rousing applause–$2,181 to a Relay for Life event, the last budget of the year.