At its weekly meeting Wednesday, the Duke Student Government Senate learned about a proposed new caucus system. 

President Pro Tempore Avery Boltwood, a junior, introduced at the meeting what will potentially become Title XVIII of the DSG Senate By-Law, which would allow the creation of caucuses: formally-recognized groups of senators who will work on legislation related to specific identity groups or policy initiatives. The new system would be an addition to the current committee structure, and would not replace it.

“Basically, this whole by-law amendment is to create a system to encourage [caucuses] to work in your interests, in students’ interests, in a way that is a bit more more focused than it has been in the past,” Boltwood said. 

He noted that caucuses are already adopted in the student government legislatures at Florida State University and Harvard University.

According to Boltwood, the three main functions for the caucuses are to act as a point of contact for students on specialized policy areas, distribute targeted information to interested students and promote cross-committee collaboration. 

He identified two examples of potential caucuses: the First-Generation/Low-Income Caucus and the LGBTQIA+ Caucus. He suggested that the former could investigate the impact on first-generation students of food-point reform or of fees for disposable to-go containers.

Any senator would be able to start a caucus by filing a “petition of caucus,” which would be presented to the Senate for a vote of approval. Caucuses would be required to meet at least once a month and have at least one member. The President Pro Tempore would help ensure that caucuses’ policy initiatives remained active between school years.

Several senators asked Boltwood whether there would be a limit on how many caucuses could exist at any one time. He said that no official cap would exist but that the size of the Senate creates an inherent limit. In addition, he noted that the Senate would have to approve each new caucus. 

“If we saw that there were starting to be too many, we could vote them down,” he said. 

This was the first reading of the by-law amendment, which will be voted on during a later meeting.

In other business:

Members of the DSG Executive Branch reported on the projects they are working on. President Kristina Smith, a senior, is working on an initiative to make the costs of individual courses more transparent. 

Junior Liv McKinney, vice president for services and sustainability, is seeking legislative approval on a reform that would increase the number of food points that first-years have while keeping two Marketplace swipes per day.

The Senate approved $6,173 in Student Organization Finance Committee funding for Duke Chinese Theater Presents: Rhinoceros in Love. The Senate approved the re-chartering of Duke Sheroes, which lost its charter this semester.