During its Wednesday meeting, Duke Student Government senators authorized the transfer of $41,315.43 from DSG’s General Account to replenish the Student Organization Finance Committee’s programming fund after it surpassed its yearly budget.
In April 2022, DSG and SOFC allocated nearly $400,000 for the 2022-23 annual budget, which is decided once a year for line items that are “essential to a [group’s] presence on campus,” according to SOFC's website.
The extra $40,000 approved Wednesday will go towards funding requests from 33 student organizations, according to junior Swetha Rajagopal, the vice president of Durham and Community Affairs. These requests spanned from March 26 to April 2 at 7 p.m., which is the weekly deadline for SOFC funding requests, per sophomore Ayanna Chatman, the SOFC vice-chair of management and communication.
When asked by senator Effie Mehbod, a senior, about what “safeguards throughout the year” could have prevented this surpassing of the budget, Chatman cited the creation of new groups and expansion of events in the absence of COVID-19 limits as causes.
“This is something that happens naturally, because you can never know how many new groups show up,” she said.
Rajagopal also referenced the burden of funding cultural group events at the beginning of the academic year when the Cultural Engagement Fund was not available. Chatman suggested a few changes, including stricter auditing and return of unused funds.
In response to inquiries from juniors Ashley Bae, vice president of services and sustainability, and senator Chase Barclay about more large dollar funding requests, Chatman reassured the senators that programming ends next week Tuesday. However, SOFC still expects to file another $40,000 request next week.
Senator Heather Raslan, a sophomore, asked about what happens to leftover funds that student groups receive. Chatman responded that most of this funding sits in Duke Groups, and treasurers must manually grant the return of unused funds.
In other business
Shreya Joshi, vice president of campus life, and Rajagopal presented the first reading of amendments to the SOFC by-laws. These changes reflect planned overhauls presented at last week’s Senate meeting.
Under the proposed changes, the responsibility of recognizing new student groups would shift from SOFC to the Student Involvement and Leadership team in the Office of Student Affairs. This team would then categorize groups as “selective,” “non-selective,” and “competitive.”
The proposed reforms would also restructure the annual budget process. Student groups would no longer submit separate budgets. Instead, DSG would budget SOFC funding between programming, capital expenses, operating expenses and discretionary funds. Starting in the fall, student groups would request funding on a monthly basis directly from SOFC.
Joshi also conducted the second reading of changes to the DSG judiciary by-law, which clarifies an impeachment and removal process for justices and clerks. It also directs petitions against members of the judiciary to the DSG Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid conflicts of interest. The senators voted to approve the amendments.
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Senou Kounouho is a Pratt sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.