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DSG Senate considers nearly $370,000 in annual budget allocation to student organizations

<p>Devin Mahoney, chair of SOFC, at DSG Senate.</p>

Devin Mahoney, chair of SOFC, at DSG Senate.

Duke Student Government Senate had its first reading of the 2020-2021 annual budget Wednesday night via Zoom.

Junior Devin Mahoney, chair of the Student Organization Finance Committee, read over the requests for allocating funds for student organizations and presented SOFC’s proposal for next year’s funding. Senators will be able to propose amendments at next week’s session, which will be the last Senate meeting of Spring 2020.

Mahoney presented a $369,201.13 proposed allocation out of the $993,948.08 that student organizations had requested. Mahoney noted that because of circumstances around COVID-19, she also wants to give the opportunity for groups to apply for new funding in the fall.

“We might need to work with groups who might be affected by it,” Mahoney said, about planning with COVID-19 in mind. “For right now we’re assuming that national competitions, tournaments, sports events, international travel will be happening in the fall.”

Last year, student groups requested  $921,220.96, and the budget was approved at around $305,000—excluding club sports. 

Each year, all of the club sports is allocated a lump sum separate from the student organization fund to be divided up by the club sports office. This year, club sports asked for $310,600 and were given $96,500 in the proposed budget. Club sports were allocated $500 more than their prior year’s allocation because, although two club sports were discontinued, three new club sports joined. 

$0.25 Responsible Dining Fee

The Senate passed a resolution to support a $0.25 Responsible Dining Fee and expand the reusable to-go container program in Fall 2020. 

Green Devils Project Lead Alyse Trail, a master’s student in the Nicholas School of Environment, and Senator Dan Garcia, a sophomore, presented the Responsible Dining Fee resolution, which would add a $0.25 fee for using a non-reusable to-go container on campus to disincentivize student waste. 

This would only apply when students choose to take a non-reusable container in locations that offer a reusable to-go container. The Senate amended the resolution to add that DSG will “work collaboratively to ensure that this program will be easy and efficient to use for all undergraduate students” and passed the resolution.

“We want to reaffirm that we support this fee,” Garcia said.

Election laws and postponed elections

DSG President Liv McKinney, a senior, and incoming DSG President Tommy Hessel, a junior, presented a resolution concerning the communication of election-related documents for recent DSG elections. The Senate passed the resolution. 

The resolution expressed regret that an email with election by-law and election rules and procedures failed to be sent to all students between three and five weeks before the election of vice presidents, senators, class presidents and class vice presidents and the election of president and executive vice presidents, as prescribed by the election by-law. The by-law also tasks the attorney general as the “primary officer” to do so.

To avoid similar situations in the future, the resolution recommends assigning responsibility within DSG to make the group’s governing documents publicly available to students. 

President pro tempore nominations

DSG suspended house rules for 12 hours to allow nominations to succeed current Senate President Pro Tempore Aly Diaz, a junior, who reflected on her time presiding over the Senate.

“It really has helped me build up my confidence, and it's been an honor to serve in this role,” Diaz said. 

The nominees were Senator Valeria Silombria, a junior, and Senators Jackson Kennedy and Shirley Mathur, both sophomores.

Kennedy emphasized maximizing efficiency in his speech to the Senate.

“Running the senate smoothly is the best service we can provide for the student body,” he said. “I want to help DSG in what I’m sure will be a challenging time in the fall and the spring.”

Mathur expressed that she “wanted to encourage more inter-committee collaboration.” She also advocated for outreach to caucus chairs, who run DSG caucus centered around specific groups and topics, including first-generation low-income student life on campus.

Silombria highlighted the importance of social media and caucuses. 

“Social media is a huge way for students to know what’s going on in Senate,” she said. “There needs to be more outreach to multicultural and identity groups.”

Senators have until Thursday night to vote on the next president pro tempore.

Correction: This story was updated Thursday morning to reflect that Garcia is a sophomore, not a junior. The Chronicle regrets the error.


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