After selective groups disaffiliated from Duke, off-campus social events increased. DSG hopes to make them safer

<p>Duke Student Government Senate at their Sept. 21, 2022 meeting.</p>

Duke Student Government Senate at their Sept. 21, 2022 meeting.

Duke Student Government senators created a committee to promote safe and inclusive off-campus social life and approved funding for Democracy Day, an initiative in partnership with the University’s Program in American Grand Strategy, at their Wednesday meeting.

The new Committee on Safe Social Life in Durham will “work to enhance safety and inclusivity of off-campus events and selective organizations,” according to the committee’s statute

Since multiple selective social groups, including fraternities and sororities, disaffiliated from Duke in 2021, off-campus social events have increased, the statute read. 

"This had led to various concerns voiced by students, including but not limited to safety issues and conflicts with the city of Durham, but students still find a sense of community and support by attending these off-campus social events," the statute read. "Ultimately, the students that comprise these groups as well as those who participate in the events hosted by these organizations are a part of the Duke community."

The committee will issue recommendations to DSG and affiliate bodies to "ameliorate tensions between off-campus organizations and Duke and Durham." It will also work to implement prevention methods and reform, including creating anonymous diversity, accessibility, and gender violence reporting and guides for hosting and attending these events safely. 

The group will work with students who host these off-campus events and students who attend the events, as well as administrators, DSG members and members of Duke Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education. Applications to join the committee will be open to any student with an interest.

“We want to make sure that students have the resources to attend these events safely and also have fun,” said junior Swetha Rajagopal, associate vice president for campus life, who co-sponsored the committee.

“We can't impose anything,” senator Elena Karas, a sophomore and another sponsor of the committee, added. “We just want to start this conversation.”

Democracy Day

Democracy Day is an event oriented towards encouraging civic engagement and voting in the Duke student body, and senators approved $6,528 for it. Junior Shreya Joshi, vice president for campus life, and sophomore Alex Dray, associate vice president for campus life, presented the funding request on behalf of event organizers Mick Tobin and Chloe Decker, both sophomore senators.

“Voting impacts your day to day,” Dray said, reflecting on the importance of the event. “Why wouldn't you want to have a say in how the future of your life is going to go? Voting is that say.”

The event on Oct. 28 will include speakers, wellness sessions and art activities in collaboration with the Nasher Museum of Art, according to Dray. He shared that Duke AGS has already confirmed Gordon Sondland, a former United States ambassador to the European Union, as a speaker. The event organizers hope to bring more high-profile speakers.

In other business

DSG senators allocated $2,500 for National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Duke Homecoming Afterparty on Oct. 15 and $2,230 for the Ciceronian Society’s speaker event with Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley on Oct. 25. They also allotted $4,750 for Phi Beta Sigma’s Charity Ball on Oct. 29 and $1,125 for the group’s AAXellence alumni event on Oct. 27.

The senators chartered The Bridge, an online student publication dedicated to raising the voices of women and non-binary people of color in the Duke community. Prior to the vote, club president Victoria Pannell, a senior, spoke about the history and significance of the group, which has branches at both Duke and UNC.

The senators also allocated $3,500 to fund art supplies at the Arts Annex. The Annex, which was previously funded by Duke University Union, lost funding during the pandemic due to lack of attendance and funding changes, according to Joshi.

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Senou Kounouho | University News Editor

Senou Kounouho is a Pratt sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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