Duke Student Government senators held the first half of their town hall at their Wednesday meeting.
The Academic Affairs, Campus Life and Equity and Outreach Committees presented updates on their respective projects and opened the floor to questions during the town hall. While students and administrators were present at the open meeting, only senators asked questions to the town hall presenters.
The Academic Affairs Committee started its presentation by discussing house course reform. They hope to “lower the administrative burden associated with house courses, increase funding for house courses” and “to compensate house course instructors for their work.”
“The goal of house course reform is to make it more accessible for different students to teach,” said senator Heather Raslan, a sophomore.
Senator Preston Nibley, a sophomore, shared updates on GRUNCH, a program similar to FLUNCH, but funds undergraduate lunches with graduate students. Nibley noted that this program had been enacted in the past but “died with COVID-19.”
He says that currently the program has funding from the Graduate and Professional Student Government, and the committee hopes to create a resolution for DSG to be able to contribute to funding as well.
“The interaction between faculty and students only comprise one part of the learner-instructor dynamics. A big part of that is also graduate students,” Nibley said.
Senator Effie Mehbod, a senior, shared updates on the Career Center Spark 2.0 partnership and noted the Sophomore Spark Summit will become annual. Senator Chase Barclay, a junior, shared that the senators working on the Syllabus Bank project are working to gather syllabi centrally through directors of undergraduate studies in order to increase their repository.
For the Centralizing Duke Resources project, Senator Kate Kotler, a sophomore, said that senators had completed a list of resources and were working to create a usable website.
Sophomore Jax Nalley, vice president of academic affairs, provided updates on the Karsh Student Advisory Board project that was launched last year. The KSAB is composed of undergraduates who provide student input on the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid’s processes. Past work the KSAB has done includes pushing for food point increases and improving study abroad affordability.
Barclay shared that senators will vote on allocating $10,000 to the Late Night Lyft Vans program, intended to increase availability of safe and reliable free transport for students. The pilot will launch after spring break.
The Campus Life Committee then presented on the Merchants on Points program, Blue Devil Buddies, vending machines, housing and roommate reform, Democracy Day and safe social life during their presentation.
Senator Elena Karas, a sophomore, said that the committee hopes to expand Merchants on Points options and that a form will be sent out to gather student input. Senator Brandon Qin, a junior, shared updates on recruiting a new team to maintain the Blue Devil Buddies mentorship program. Senator Sraya Yellapragada, a first-year, said that the committee was working to learn more about who stocks the vending machines for a project on restocking the vending machines with healthier food.
Senators Bianca Ingram, a sophomore, and Sophie Smith, a junior, shared that the committee was working on adding questions to the housing survey to improve the compatibility of random roommate pairs. The committee also plans to continue Democracy Day events and is working to get students the day off from classes in order to vote. They also have set up the Committee on Safe Social Life in Durham to “enhance safety and inclusivity at off-campus events.”
The committee further hopes to create a centralized lost and found through collaborating with departments and buildings.
The Equity and Outreach Committee presented updates on the Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention Center, admissions research, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity student trainings, Experiential Orientation reform, disability advocacy and maintenance of identity/cultural center relationships. Senators working on the GVPI project hope to take down inaccurate resource stickers and outreach to first-years on where they can go in the event of sexual assault.
Senator Brien Brennan, a sophomore, shared that the committee hopes to look into the future of admissions, especially considering the impact future Supreme Court rulings may have on race-conscious admissions practices.
“We want to look for how we can move past that as senators or as an institution, using, for example, the basis of socioeconomic status to increase the diversity in truly every sense of the word,” Brennan said.
The committee is further collaborating with the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the Experiential Orientation project team to implement bias training for first-years and make Experiential Orientation funding more equitable.
Senator Viktoria Wulff-Andersen, a sophomore, presented on the committee’s disability advocacy plans, such as sharing disabled students’ stories and improving the accessibility of campus websites such as the DSG and The Chronicle’s websites.
Sophomore Zara Thalji, the vice president of the Equity and Outreach Committee, ended the presentation by sharing steps the committee has taken to increase transgender student visibility on campus, such as having preferred names listed on mobile orders and being able to list pronouns on DukeHub.
In other business
The Asian Student Association received $3,925 in funding for their Chanel Govreau Art Workshop, the Duke Catholic Center received $3,200 in funding for their senior soiree, the Biology Majors Union received $1,700 for their annual STEM Majors Picnic, Runway of Dreams received $4,697.50 for their annual show, TEDxDuke received $2,200 for a video editor for their annual conference, Duke Student Justice for Palestine received $2,500 for their concert with Nemah Hasan and Duke Nakisai received $6,365.30 for their showcase.
The Association of Mixed People at Duke was chartered. Women’s Empowerment at Duke, Duke University JStreet U and the Backpack Project: Durham and Musical Empowerment were recognized.
An Undergraduate Environmental Union budget statute allocating $1,900 for their annual enviro-art gallery and the Duke Lyft Pilot Project budget statute allocating $10,000 to program were passed.
Editor’s Note: Viktoria Wulff-Andersen is a member of The Chronicle’s staff as an opinion managing editor.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Ayra Charania is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.