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DCR loses annual funds, faces de-chartering

Seniors Justin Robinette, former Duke College Republicans chair, and Cliff Satell, former DCR vice chair, testify regarding DCR’s hostile atmosphere at the Duke Student Government meeting Wednesday night.
Seniors Justin Robinette, former Duke College Republicans chair, and Cliff Satell, former DCR vice chair, testify regarding DCR’s hostile atmosphere at the Duke Student Government meeting Wednesday night.

In a meeting that lasted more than four hours, the Duke Student Government Senate defunded the Duke College Republicans and took the first step toward de-chartering the group on the basis that the club has demonstrated a “culture of discrimination.”

Securing exactly the two-thirds vote necessary for the de-chartering, the governing body’s decision will cut the organization off from annual funding for the academic year.

The decision to de-charter is not official yet. The Student Organization Finance Committee will have the final say on the group’s charter. De-chartering will only be official if a majority of SOFC members vote for the DCR to lose that designation.

SOFC’s decision could also eliminate DCR funding for the next two years. The group will likely meet in the next two or three weeks, said SOFC Chair Max Tabachnik, a senior.

Because the decision to de-charter is not final, many senators acknowledged that their actions were largely symbolic.

“De-chartering them down to a recognized group would add an element of justice to this, and up until this point there hasn’t been an element of justice to this group,” said senior Will Passo, a student affairs senator.

Despite its defunding, the College Republicans will still be able to host events and have access to the programming fund—which tripled in the Spring.

For senior Justin Robinette, a student affairs senator and former DCR chair who was impeached last Spring allegedly because he is gay, the decision is a move in the right direction. Robinette and senior Cliff Satell, former DCR vice chair, spoke out against the club—especially its executive board—throughout the night, even distributing 54-page packets containing evidence of harassment and discrimination.

“The people who lead this club have a history of witnessed and documented vandalism,” Satell said in the two-hour-long public forum. “We are not asking you tonight to punish any individual students—that is not within your purview.... In de-funding and de-chartering, you would be sending a message to this community, to the UNC community and [to] the state that this behavior is not what Duke represents.”

If SOFC moves to de-charter the group, the DCR could re-apply for charter status in Fall 2011, making it ineligible to apply for annual funding until Spring 2012.

The resolution included claims that the DCR violated SOFC rules—such as the responsibility to not be selective in membership—and the Duke Community Standard, non-discrimination and harassment policies and DSG rules.

Although the Senate’s actions were against the club as a whole—and not individual members—Robinette and Satell presented the Senate with e-mail evidence sent from DCR Chair Carter Boyle, a senior. The e-mails include a derogatory “homosexual image,” gay remarks and racist and anti-Semitic messages, all allegedly sent by Boyle. The packet also includes e-mail evidence of death threats mostly directed at Robinette and images of vandalism painted on the East Campus bridge during the summer.

Boyle was not present at the Wednesday meeting. DCR Chief of Staff Rachel Provost, a senior, and sophomore William Reach, a DCR executive board member, spoke at the beginning of the meeting, at times speaking against Boyle and other DCR members.

“Presuming that the e-mails are true, yes, the e-mails are very offensive,” Reach said. “The University and the College Republicans should take action over this. It is my personal opinion that [Boyle] should be impeached.”

Current DCR members denied many of the allegations presented before them, adding that only one DCR executive board member was in North Carolina when the East graffiti appeared.

“The reason we did not challenge these accusations is that they have been dealt with at every level of Duke and by the student government,” Reach said. “The e-mails do not pertain to the College Republicans in any capacity. They don’t represent the members of the DCR executive board as it stands now.”

Provost declined to comment after the meeting.

The Senate’s vote to eliminate DCR funding was close to unanimous, but the decision to support de-chartering the group was more contested.

DSG President Mike Lefevre, a senior, even mentioned some of the disadvantages of de-chartering the group.

“A chartered group cannot be selective and a recognized group can,” said Lefevre, who cannot vote in the Senate. “By de-chartering them down to a recognized group we are allowing them to do exactly what they did to get here.”


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