What does the Lord of the Rings have to do with Jesus Christ? Can something other than “the Vision of God” make you happy? 

Students may have to wait to find out after the Duke Student Government Senate tabled legislation Wednesday night to fund two events addressing those questions hosted by the Duke Catholic Center. 

The first event would be a lecture given by Paige Hochschild, an associate professor of theology at Mount St. Mary's University, entitled “Christology and The Lord of the Rings.” The second lecture would given by Michael Pakaluk, professor of ethics at the Catholic University of America, and is called “Only the Vision of God can Make Someone Happy.” The Catholic Center had asked for $1,710 in funding for each of the events, which are planned for March 7 and April 11, respectively. 

The Senate tabled the first event on the grounds that the Duke Catholic Center has received funding for many events in the past despite having access to other sources of funding. The Catholic Center will have the chance for the application for funding to be considered again at the next Senate meeting. 

“This is an issue of justice right here,” said junior Avery Boltwood, president pro tempore of the Senate. “There are groups that have access to other funding, and I think it’s important that they are good enough to know how to get that funding.” 

Other senators raised a deeper concern that the Senate has been approving requests for funding without taking the time to adequately consider them.

“Do we just want to give money to people who follow the rules, or do we want to be a little more thoughtful?” asked junior Uwa Ihionkhan, vice president for Durham and regional affairs.

Some senators questioned whether it was fair to single out the Catholic Center, given that the Senate has funded many such events in the past. After Boltwood proposed tighter guidelines for funding, junior Liv McKinney, vice president for services and sustainability, questioned him on the timing.

“Do you think that it’s responsible or feasible to start rejecting requests arbitrarily without these new guidelines…vaguely in place?” she asked. 

Avery responded by citing the DSG Judiciary’s decision in the recent Hyde House case, adding it appears that the Senate can make decisions “based on whatever values it finds appropriate.”

In addition to the concerns over equity in funding, junior Manish Kumar, senator for academic affairs, argued that the title of the second lecture could be a “triggering” for some students. He cited a study that found a correlation between religiosity and suicidal behavior in LGBTQ+ young adults. 

In the same meeting, the Senate approved a total of $24,779.69 in SOFC funding for other events, including $6,430 for a speech by conservative columnist Ross Douthat hosted by the Catholic Center, which was approved before the debate over funding began. 

The funding also included $5,400 for Blue Devils United’s “Le Kiki Cinq” event; $1,735.45 for the Coalition for Preserving Memory’s 24-Hour Name Reading Ceremony; $4,397.50 for the Devils en Pointe Showcase; $2,700 for the Duke Undergraduate Machine Learning Day and Women in Data Science event; $2,265 for La Unidad Latina’s Noche Dorada event and $1,851.74 for Pi Kappa Alpha’s Shave for Schreiber, Buzz for Bobby fundraiser. 

Vice Provost Gary Bennett addresses the Senate

Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education, gave a presentation on his role within Duke’s administration. Several of his areas of interest at the moment are expanding access to advising, growing the DukeImmerse program and rethinking housing on West Campus. 

Students should not feel like they have to plan their lives out from the moment they arrive at Duke, Bennett said. Instead, they should be able to try new things and take risks. He described his own life as an example, saying that although he earned his Ph.D. at Duke in 2002, he never expected to return to work at his alma mater.

“I had no intention that my life would take me back here,” Bennett said. 

Krzyzewskiville resolution

The Senate passed a resolution calling on Duke’s administration to keep Krzyzewskiville open to all students on the day of the game between Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, out of concern that administration might implement a tenters-only policy. 

For the first marquee matchup this season—against Virginia on Jan. 19—access to K-Ville was restricted to students who had wristbands for the game. At the time, Bob Weiseman, senior associate director of athletics and athletic facilities, game operations and championships, would not specify if similar measures would be applied to the area for the UNC game. 

The resolution states that “the Krzyzewskiville celebration is considered one of the Duke traditions open to all students.” It also notes that “not all students are able to partake in the traditional tenting procedure for reasons such as, but not limited to, physical accessibility and emotional wellness.”

In other business

The Senate approved the charter of the Duke University Innocence Project and the Cricket Club. The Senate also amended the constitution of the Persian Students Association to change the phrasing at one point.

Boltwood gave the first reading of an updated version of the Duke Student Government constitution.

Junior Daisy Almonte, vice president for equity and outreach, summarized a letter from the Executive Board to Duke’s administration that asks about the University’s relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The letter asks, among other questions, whether ICE agents are allowed to come onto Duke’s campus.