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DSG discusses amendments for annual budget, funds talk by activist Linda Sarsour

Duke Student Government Senate discussed amendments to its annual budget Wednesday night as it goes through the yearly process of doling out hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Senior Ben Hubsch, chair of the Student Organization Funding Committee, gave the second reading of DSG’s annual budget for the 2019-2020 school year. Hubsch told Senators that SOFC had amended some budget provisions based on recommendations from Senators since last week's first budget reading, but new amendments could be proposed in Senate. 

At the first reading, the budget was set to spend more than $300,000. 

Senator Shrey Majmudar, a first-year and member of FIRST at Duke, a robotics-focused student group, appealed to increase funding for FIRST.

Majmudar pointed out that the group, which was chartered earlier this year, had requested less than $1,000, the limit for student groups in their first year. Some new student groups requested more than $1,000, including Duke Gymnastics, which requested more than $49,000. 

The Senate suspended house rules for 15 minutes in order to reconsider the budgets for all newly-chartered student groups who requested less than $1,000 but were not granted their full request. 

First-year Senator Nehal Jain spoke against the amended budget for FIRST at Duke in favor of increasing funding for the group but not granting their full request. Other senators criticized Majmudar's appeal in Senate, given that it was outside the normal process for annual budget appeals, which normally goes through SOFC. 

The Senate then voted to meet only the group's travel budget request. 

The Senate also rejected a motion to increase funding for Duke Plants and Botany, and declined to take up discussed amendments to meet budget requests from Duke Platform Tennis, Freshly Squeezed Pulp and Duke Cricket. 

Junior Liv McKinney, vice president of the DSG services and sustainability committee and incoming DSG president, discussed proposing an amendment to ban line monitors from keeping their jackets after they graduate and instead, having them pass the jackets down to new line monitors to reduce costs. McKinney eventually chose not to formally propose the amendment after Senate discussion.

The final vote on the annual budget will take place next week.

In other business

The Senate unanimously approved $4,000 in funding for the Duke Muslim Students Association to host activist Linda Sarsour for a talk on Islam and intersectionality, expected to draw 140 undergraduates. 

Senator Charlie Zong, a first-year, questioned the decision to invite Sarsour due to the allegations of anti-Semitism by critics and fears of potential on-campus protests against the event. Sarsour has said that her criticism of Israel does not make her anti-Semitic.

Junior Aman Ibrahim, president of the MSA, told the Senate that the group has been in contact with Duke administrators and does not anticipate any issues surrounding the event. Gerald Harris, DSG adviser and director of student involvement, said they are bringing in a "team of administrators to help strategize around the event."

The Senate also approved $2,601 for the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee to host its annual food truck rodeo, expected to draw 800 undergraduate attendees. 

The Senate unanimously chartered Duke Children's Ambassadors, a new student group that will support children and families at Duke Children's Hospital. 

Senators also approved $50 in funding from the Legislative Discretionary Fund to buy pizza for an event as part of the North Carolina Central University Collaboration Project. 

The Senate confirmed junior Daisy Almonte, vice president of equity and outreach, as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, replacing Senate President Pro Tempore Avery Boltwood, a junior and in coming DSG executive vice president, who tendered their resignation from the post Wednesday. 


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