DSG considers $408,000 budget for student groups

Duke Student Government senators considered an annual student organization budget of more than $408,000 at their Wednesday meeting.

Sophomore Drew Flanagan, chair Student Organization Finance Committee, led the Duke Senate through the first reading of the SOFC annual budget proposal at Wednesday's meeting. Senators conducted a reading of more than 500 individual items, with $927,514.59 in funding requested by student groups and $408,024.96 approved by SOFC. 

Flanagan explained to the Senate that SOFC approved funding based on the assumption that health conditions will return to normal by the fall semester.

Requests for money were down slightly from this academic year, when student groups requested $993,948.08, but SOFC’s granted requests were up from $369,201.13, more than a 10% increase. If the Senate approves SOFC’s proposal, arts, media and publications groups will receive the largest share of funding at 24.2%, with athletics and recreation groups close behind at 23.2%.

The increase in funding is due to a projected increase in the revenue that Duke collections from student activities fees, according to the SOFC presentation to Senators. 

Flanagan and SOFC Executive Vice-Chair Ahana Sen, a junior, explained their funding decisions for each item line-by-line. Flanagan explained that this year SOFC implemented hard caps on funding for general body meetings, retreats, and hotel and flight rates to ensure equity among groups. 

Common reasons for SOFC denying funding included applying for marketing or giveaways and using the annual budget to apply for programming events, which SOFC funds separately. 

Senior Aly Diaz, vice president for Durham Regional Affairs, asked Flanagan whether SOFC follows up as to whether organizations who are denied funding eventually do receive funding through other sources. 

Flanagan responded that while SOFC doesn't currently keep tabs on groups after they leave SOFC, the organization has focused on referring groups to additional resources for funding, and on creating a stakeholder model with representatives from other funding bodies on the SOFC board.  

Before beginning the line-by-line reading, Flanagan offered larger questions for senators to consider. Although student organizations are expected to host websites on sites.duke.edu, which is free, many student organizations are not satisfied with the platform and SOFC ends up funding their website costs. Student publication printing costs are also large expenses that would historically be funded by the Undergraduate Publications Board, and Flanagan asked senators to consider whether the two organizations ought to partner with each other better.  

SOFC will meet with administrators again in mid-July, and assuming suitable conditions, funds will be disbursed to student organizations in August, which is a change from previous years.  

In other business:

Flanagan was confirmed by the Senate for a second year as SOFC chair, while first-year Elizabeth Berenguer was confirmed as chair of the Latinx Caucus.  

Sophomore Dawei Gao conducted the first reading of proposed by-laws for a new First-Generation Low-Income Caucus, a DSG group advocating for first-generation, low-income students. Sophomore Hana Hendi conducted the first reading of the Interfaith Caucus by-laws.  

The Senate confirmed sitting DSG Judiciary associate justices Weston Lindner, a junior; Carlee Goldberg, a junior; Jonathan Griffin, a sophomore; and Marc Chmielewski, a junior. The Senate also confirmed new justices Brian Peng, a first-year, and Andrew Griffin, a sophomore, for the 2021-22 academic year.  

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Weston Linder is a returning DSG Judiciary associate justice, not a new justice, and that Andrew Griffin is a new justice, not a returning justice. The Chronicle regrets the error. 


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