Duke Student Government senators proposed a new referendum after hearing a presentation from the Duke Climate Coalition and reviewed changes to its statutes during their Wednesday meeting.
The presentation from the DCC, led by sophomore Brennan McDonald and first-years Abby Saks and Helene Gu made the case for Duke’s divestment from fossil fuels.
The proposals pointed to how the money used in fossil fuel investments is risky and worth investing elsewhere in clean energy initiatives. The speakers also discussed the recent trend of other institutions divesting from fossil fuel and the history of mistreatment of communities of color by fossil fuel companies.
While Duke has eliminated direct investments in fossil fuels from its endowment assets, the University has not taken any other action with the remaining endowment. The presentation points to 2% of the Duke endowment—$19.6 million—being invested in Duke Energy.
Following the presentation, senators passed a statute adding a referendum to the DSG president and executive vice president ballot on behalf of McDonald and the DCC.
“Are you in favor of calling on Duke to permanently end all direct and indirect investments in companies that explore for or develop fossil fuels; and reinvest in sustainable businesses, industries and funds?” the proposed referendum stated.
Led by DSG Executive Vice President Ramya Ginjupalli, senators reviewed new proposed changes to their DSG Research Unit By-law, Affiliate By-law, DSG Constitution and Senate By-law. Senators held their first reading for the Affiliate By-law and their second reading for the Constitution and Senate and DSGRU By-laws.
Proposed changes included deactivating DSGRU while the Director of Research assumes its functions in addition to previous changes included in previous readings. Senators held a debate about how to increase student representation through cabinet members and the representation of elected compared to at-large senators.
With 32 yays, one nay and no abstaining votes, the senators approved proposed changes to the DSG Constitution. These changes will be implemented with a 25% turnout for a constitutional referendum of the Duke undergraduate student body, distinct from the 15% needed for a typical referendum, like the newly adopted DCC one.
Senators also reviewed changes to the election rules and proceedings. Election-related communication in group chats is not allowed if the group is “academically-focused and was created by or with the involvement of professors, [teaching assistants] or tutors” or if the group chat is the “primary form of communication for an organization” where students may not opt out of it.
In other business
Duke Student Government allocated $9,000.00 for the Asian Student Association’s Converge: Illuminate showcase, $3,209.21 for Business Oriented Women’s spring business conference, $2,000.00 for Dhamaka’s paintball event, $2,280.00 for the Singapore Students Association’s SSA x CSA Spring Festival, $10,776.48 for the Duke Persian Student’s Associations’ Persian New Year Concert and $5,100.00 for its speaker event with Max Amini.
DSG senators allocated $140.00 from the DSG General Account to print A-Boards to promote the Duke Durham Festival.
Senators approved changing Juhood Magazine’s name to Jasūr Magazine, after the University of California, Santa Barbara and Cornell University professors alerted the magazine that “juhood” may be construed as an anti-Semitic slur when used in Farsi.
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Audrey Wang is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.