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After being denied a charter, Hyde House is suing the DSG Senate

On Thursday, the Duke Student Government Judiciary will hear the case of Hyde House v. Duke Student Government Senate. 

Hyde House, a selective social group, was founded as an alternative to selective living groups and Greek organizations and recently had its chartering denied at the Senate’s Sept. 26 meeting. Sophomore Lindsey Lovitt, president of Hyde House, wrote in an email to The Chronicle that the case is “in response to the biased, unprofessional treatment” received during the DSG Senate meeting.

“Through this trial, we hope to demonstrate to the Duke community the injustices DSG senate believes they can inflict without consequences, hold DSG Senate accountable for their actions, and ultimately get a new hearing for our group,” Lovitt wrote in the email. “No matter the outcome, we hope this case serves to fix and bring attention to some of the problems within DSG, a group with immense power on this campus.”

President Pro Tempore Avery Boltwood, a junior, wrote to The Chronicle that DSG stands by its decision not to charter Hyde House.

"In a discussion between the President Pro Tempore and the petitioner’s representative, the President Pro Tempore helped clarify the distinctions between Public Forum, Senate debating procedure and other procedural questions," Boltwood wrote. "Following this, I am confident that the hearing will demonstrate that the Hyde House debate was a standard application of Senate procedure, and that the Judiciary will rule accordingly." 

Hyde House’s petition, obtained by The Chronicle, cites Section 2 of Title III of the Student Organization Finance Committee by-law and Sections 7 and 9 of Article IX of the DSG Constitution as legal backing for its claims.

The petition made specific allegations ranging from there being “no quantifiable procedure” to the Senate’s discretionary powers to approve organizations to the “implementation of Senate procedures” being “conducted in an arbitrary manner.”

“We will show that during multiple stages of the Hyde House hearing, the DSG senate failed to adhere to its own procedures, resulting in an unfair housing,” the petition states. “We will additionally demonstrate that DSG voting sentiment was guided by an arbitrary rule that Hyde House would be unable to meet even if procedural practices were facilitated without error, thus violating the ability of Hyde House and organizations to receive due process.”

At the Sept. 26 Senate meeting, Lovitt and other executive board members of Hyde House addressed the Senate during public forum “to answer questions about Hyde House and justify the need for its existence,” the petition states. 

Hyde House members were provided with “30 seconds to respond to questions from senators before [senior and SOFC Chair] Ben Hubsch was questioned,” and the Senate had an “informal discussion before calling for a final roll call vote,” according to the petition.

“Given the ambiguous nature of the discretionary powers afforded to the Senate, there is no avenue for regress,” the petition reads. “If students are unable to determine what exactly is wrong with their organization, they can't make necessary reforms to achieve ‘recognized’ or ‘chartered’ status.”

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