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DSG Senate passes resolutions urging administration to take action on financial aid, acts of hate

At its Wednesday meeting, the Duke Student Government Senate called for greater student input on administration decisions regarding financial aid and acts of hate on campus.  

The Senate unanimously approved a resolution covering a range of suggestions related to financial aid at Duke. The resolution urged the administration to improve communication with the student body, limit the effect of financial aid changes to students who have not yet matriculated and to improve the transparency around financial aid goals and processes. 

The Senate also requested a written, non-binding commitment from President Vincent Price, Provost Sally Kornbluth and Alison Rabil, assistant vice provost and director of the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support, to abide by the resolution's principles.

Senior Adam Bullock, senator of equity and outreach and a sponsor of the resolution, and DSG President Kristina Smith, a senior, spoke in favor of the resolution. Bullock explained that the University administration suggested that DSG develop a list of student-driven principles to guide the financial aid process.

"I think what we want you to take away from it is that there are strains on the financial aid budget, but we believe that it is students, particularly students on financial aid, [who] are best able to advocate for the things that we need," Smith said.

The Senate also unanimously approved a resolution on "Acts of Hate and Bias" in response to recent racially charged acts of vandalism on campus. The resolution urged the University administration to develop a clearer policy defining and responding to acts of hate and bias on campus. 

Junior Daisy Almonte, vice president of equity and outreach and a sponsor of the resolution, spoke about the need for Duke to look to peer universities and consult Duke students to develop a comprehensive policy around acts of hate.

First-year Shirley Mathur and sophomore De’Ja Wood, both senators of equity and outreach, also sponsored the resolution.

The resolution also called on the Senate to amend the DSG constitution to include language condemning acts of hate and bias on campus. No amendment has been introduced yet.

'Dean Sue' fields senators' questions

Sue Wasiolek, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, spoke briefly about her experience at Duke and fielded questions from senators.

Wasiolek touched on topics ranging from her daily routine to Duke's approach to sexual misconduct cases.

Responding to a question about the most challenging aspects of her position, Wasiolek mentioned the development of Duke's handling of sexual misconduct cases over her time at the school..

She argued that sexual misconduct cases present some of the most challenging student conduct situations for Duke, given the potential for misconduct cases to involve wide networks of people in addition to those directly involved.

Wasiolek also discussed difficulties with current mental health services, including adjusting mental health programs to the new Student Health and Wellness center, which opened in 2017. She also mentioned potential changes to peak staffing times to meet student demand around lunchtime and later in the day.

When asked about her favorite Duke traditions, Wasiolek said that she appreciated the growing number of students taking advantage of opportunities to climb the Duke University Chapel, which was uncommon when she arrived at Duke.

In other business:

The Senate approved a total of $14,339 in funding for four student-organized events. The Hindu Students Association was funded $3,800 for a Diwali dinner and evening program, which is expected to draw 400 attendees. The International Association was funded $5,184 for FoodFest, an annual showcase of diverse cultural cuisine on the Bryan Center Plaza, expected to draw 1,500 attendees. 

The Duke University Science Olympiad was funded $1,590 to host the first annual Duke University Science Olympiad Invitational Tournament, expected to draw around 400 high school participants.

The Senate also approved $3,765 in funding for the Duke Club Figure Skating to host their annual Night at the Rink, an open night of skating for Duke undergraduates at the Orange County Sportsplex. The funding covers free skate rentals for the estimated 200 undergraduate attendees.


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