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DSG Senate hears McMahon’s critiques of selectivity at Duke, approves nearly $37,000 in funds

Senator Shrey Majmudar talks about the results of a survey administered to students about technology.
Senator Shrey Majmudar talks about the results of a survey administered to students about technology.

Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost/vice president for student affairs, talked student involvement and selectivity at Wednesday’s Duke Student Government meeting. 

McMahon discussed upcoming and potential changes to Student Affairs. She mentioned plans to move administrative student affairs functions out of the current office space on the top level of the Bryan Center to a dedicated administrative building. That would open up space for more student-facing spaces and functions, including potential new space for the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

"There's a ton of changes coming in the leadership part of Student Affairs," McMahon said, pointing to a chance to get more student involvement in the department as it reorganizes.

In terms of upcoming policy changes under her oversight, she discussed Title IX changes expected from the U.S. Department of Education this year, but stressed that her job over the next few months will mostly involve continuing to listen to student concerns and priorities.

In response to a question about what has surprised her most at Duke, McMahon mentioned the unique January experience at Duke, with juniors returning from abroad and the advent of rush season on campus. On that topic, she also shared a general skepticism of selectivity at Duke.

"I am interested specifically in our culture of selectivity," McMahon said, questioning the value of groups who derive value from being smaller.

SOFC spends big

The Senate unanimously approved $36,943.60 in funding for a host of student groups. They also chartered a new one.

Duke's National Pan-Hellenic Council received $17,623.35 for its step show during the Black Student Alliance Invitational (BSAI) Weekend in late March. The event will be hosted by actor and entertainer Desi Banks. In addition, the Senate allocated $2,800 to Duke's Black Student Alliance to host a gala, also during BSAI.

DSG also funded Duke Alpha Kappa Alpha—a member of NPHC—$2,790 to host its 45th anniversary gala, which will have the theme of "throwback to 1975." Students for Justice in Palestine received $2,775 to host a talk on "historic black-Palestinian solidarity" with Rabab Abdulhadi, a professor at San Francisco State University.

Meanwhile, Inside Joke was funded $2,455.25 to host its spring show—titled “Spring!”—in Reynolds Theater. The International Association was also funded $8,500 for its spring food fest in front of Duke Chapel, including a light dinner.

Senators unanimously chartered Duke Barbell, a new fitness-focused club that will bring together experienced and beginner power-lifters. The group will meet off-campus after Duke Recreation declined to allow the group to use Duke space, according to the club’s executive team.

"We want to bring a community of strength-training learning and social bonding to Duke," said Duke Barbell President Helena Wu.

In other business:

The Senate heard a presentation from junior Kaitlyn Boncaro, vice president for services and sustainability, who shared information about the new reusable to-go containers on campus. Information about the containers, which are free to rent with a DukeCard, will appear on senators' Instagram stories following the meeting.

The Senate also amended DSG by-laws to change the name of the Student Health Advisory Committee to its new name, the Undergraduate Student Wellness Advisory Committee.

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