DSG senate approves changes to spring election rules, including a presidential debate

Duke Student Government senators met Wednesday to approve rule changes to the upcoming spring DSG election season.

Election rule changes

Continuing a tabled discussion from the Jan. 17 meeting, DSG Attorney General Annie Cui, a senior, shared revisions to the election statute for spring 2024 elections. 

Among the revisions was the addition of a DSG presidential debate. Currently set for March 21 at 5:30 p.m., the debate will “serve as an opportunity for the candidates to share their policy agenda and stances on topical issues facing the Duke undergraduate student body.” 

Undergraduate students will also be able to submit debate questions to a form released Feb. 19, and questions and subjects for the debate will be determined "in consultation with the board of elections and DSG advisor," according to Cui. 

In a reversal of a tentative decision made on Jan. 17 to extend the election polling period from 24 hours to 48 hours, DSG amended the statute to return the period to 24 hours. Cui cited crowd opinion and “the mental sanity and well-being of the candidates” as reasons for the change.

Some senators voiced concerns that the proposed March 28 to March 29 voting period would overlap with Good Friday and the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Senators voted to amend its election statute to shift all spring election events after the end of spring break one day earlier, excluding the presidential debate.

Cui also presented reforms to the DSG election endorsement process. She described how Duke undergraduate student groups can submit endorsement decisions to DSG following the presidential debate. The election statute reads that “presidential candidates and student organizations have the liberty to contact each other, should the organization(s) or the candidate(s) wish to [better] inform the endorsement decision(s).” 

“In making an inclusive decision, we encourage the student organizations to design an endorsement theory of democratic votes,” Cui said. “... The organization is required to either acknowledge a conflict of interest on the endorsement form or recuse itself entirely.” 

DSG discussed and updated rules on electioneering as well. Senators updated a clause that prohibits candidates from “participat[ing] in in-person electioneering efforts that direct students who are eligible to vote to specific voting decisions.” 

“It is prohibited to say, ‘vote for me’ and give them your iPad, but you can tell them ‘go to the voting page,’” Cui said, clarifying the change.

Senators then debated language in the statute that bars the use of various group chats for campaign correspondence. Some argued that a clause that said candidates could not post campaign materials in student organization group chats that act as the organization’s “primary method of communication” was too vague, while others worried about consequences for a candidate if a campaign affiliate unknowingly violates correspondence regulations. 

Along with changes to the election statute, senators voted to amend the DSG election by-law to require the biannual passage of a statute on election rules and procedures. 

In other business

DSG senators allocated $6,487 to Duke Cyber for a cyber competition, $2,450 to Duke Dhamaka for a competition in California, $2,600 to Duke Motorsports for car dampers, $3,448.38 to Duke NSBE for a convention in Atlanta and $24,846 to Duke Rhydhun for three dance competitions. 

DSG senators also approved programming funds, allocating $2,897 to Duke BMCO for a guest speaker, $5,946.50 to Duke Diya for their Shaadiya event, $5,500 to Duke MMA for practice fees, $5,654.33 to Duke Science Olympiad for a tournament, $2,774.94 to the Duke Student Collaborative on Health Policy for a health policy case competition and $1,022.58 to The Pitchforks for a Valentine’s Day themed joint show with Duke University Improv.

Ryan Kilgallen

Ryan Kilgallen is a Trinity sophomore and an associate news editor for the news department.


Share and discuss “DSG senate approves changes to spring election rules, including a presidential debate” on social media.