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Senate votes to put DCR on probation

DSG Chief Justice Matt Straus answers questions on the constitutionality of various policies at the DSG meeting Wednesday. At the meeting, the Senate voted to place DCR on disciplinary probation.
DSG Chief Justice Matt Straus answers questions on the constitutionality of various policies at the DSG meeting Wednesday. At the meeting, the Senate voted to place DCR on disciplinary probation.

At its meeting Wednesday night, the Duke Student Government Senate moved to place the Duke College Republicans on “disciplinary probation.”

The Senate’s resolution “neither confirms nor denies accusations of misconduct,” but allows the DSG Vice President for Student Affairs and the Student Affairs Senate Committee to more closely monitor DCR. The Student Organization Finance Committee now also has the power to review annual student group funding if a group is found guilty of misconduct.

But interim DCR Chair Stewart Day, a senior, said DSG’s ruling is in line with actions DCR is already taking.

“We have already submitted for DSG and SOFC oversight in the future,” Day said during the meeting. “I don’t want to say that as an admission of guilt. It’s something that I think would be beneficial in the long run.”

The provisions giving DSG more control over the club come from a statute passed earlier in the meeting establishing a probation system for student groups guilty of “misconduct.”

But after the resolution was brought to the table, many senators raised questions over the statute’s constitutionality. Because the “reported acts of misconduct” that the statute references happened before the law was put in place, the law is technically “ex post facto.”

“The Judiciary is directed to strike down any ex post facto laws,” said DSG Judiciary Chief Justice Matt Straus, a junior. “It seems very probable that this is a law that we would strike down.”

The Judiciary will only review DSG’s resolution if it is challenged, Straus added. If the Judiciary receives such a challenge, it would likely hear the case within the next three weeks, Straus said.

Senior Ben Bergmann, an athletics and campus services senator, was one of two representatives who submitted the resolution. He said the resolution was still worth passing—even if it is shut down in the near future.

“We could pass this and it could be struck down in a week, but it’s a statement,” Bergmann said. “We are not monitoring them because they are guilty, but because there are accusations.”

Although the Senate ruled to place the club on probation, the club is no longer defunded. At last week’s meeting, the group was stripped of its annual funding. But DSG President Mike Lefevre, a senior, vetoed the bill and another Senate resolution that took a step toward de-chartering the DCR over the weekend. In last night’s meeting the Senate considered overturning Lefevre’s veto but failed to meet the required two-thirds vote necessary.

Many senators who were against overturning the veto spoke out because of DCR actions that have taken place since last week’s Senate meeting.

Lefevre received letters of resignation from DCR Chair Carter Boyle and Vice Chair Travis Rapp, both seniors. Day will serve as interim chair until the club holds an election to select a new one.

In his veto, Lefevre stipulated that no current members of the DCR executive board would be able to run for the position—but Lefevre later clarified that the election is now open to everyone.

The Senate also came back to a resolution it passed at the beginning of the month that called for a student group constitutional review committee. The Senate voted to require that impeachment trials be open and publicized and that the SOFC chair be notified if an impeachment trial occurs.

“Such legislation is necessary because, as has been seen in the past with the April 2010 impeachment of the chair of the Duke College Republicans, these procedures... can be misused and abused,” the resolution reads.


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