Duke Student Government senators created a committee to promote safe and inclusive off-campus social life and approved funding for Democracy Day, an initiative in partnership with the University’s American Grand Strategy Program, during of their meeting on Wednesday.
The new Social Life Safety Committee at Durham “will work to improve the safety and inclusiveness of off-campus events and selective organisations”, according to the committee. law.
Since several selective social groups, including fraternities and sororities, disaffiliated from Duke in 2021, off-campus social events have increased, according to the law.
“This has led to various concerns expressed by students including but not limited to security issues and disputes with Durham City, but students still find a sense of community and support in attending these off-campus social events,” the law reads. “Ultimately, the students who make up these groups as well as those who participate in the events hosted by these organizations are part of the Duke community.”
The committee will issue recommendations to the DSG and affiliated bodies to “ease tensions between off-campus organizations and Duke and Durham.” It will also work to implement prevention and reform methods, including creating anonymous reports on diversity, accessibility and gender-based violence and guides for organizing and attending these events safely.
The group will work with students who organize these off-campus events and students who attend the events, as well as administrators, members of the DSG, and members of Duke Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education. Applications to join the committee will be open to any interested student.
“We want to make sure students have the resources to attend these events safely and also have fun,” said junior Swetha Rajagopal, associate vice president for campus life, who co-sponsored the committee. .
“We can’t impose anything,” added Senator Elena Karas, a sophomore and another sponsor of the committee. “We just want to start this conversation.”
Democracy Day is an event to encourage civic engagement and voting in Duke’s student body, and senators approved $6,528 for it. Junior Shreya Joshi, Vice President for Campus Life, and Second Student Alex Dray, Associate Vice President for Campus Life, submitted the funding request on behalf of event organizers Mick Tobin and Chloe Decker, both sophomore senators.
“Voting impacts your daily life,” Dray said, reflecting on the significance of the event. “Why wouldn’t you want to have a say in how the future of your life is going to unfold? To vote is to say.
The Oct. 28 event will include speakers, wellness sessions and art activities in conjunction with the Nasher Museum of Art, according to Dray. He shared that Duke AGS had already confirmed Gordon Sondland, former United States Ambassador to the European Union, as the speaker. The event organizers hope to bring in more high profile speakers.
In other cases
DSG senators allocated $2,500 for the National Panhellenic Council’s Duke Homecoming Afterparty on October 15 and $2,230 for the Ciceronian Society speaker’s event with Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley on October 25. They also allocated $4,750 for the Phi Beta Sigma Charity Ball on October 25. 29 and $1,125 for the band’s AAXellence alumni event on October 27.
The senators chartered The Bridge, an online student publication dedicated to bringing the voices of women and non-binary people of color to the Duke community. Before the vote, club president Victoria Pannell, a senior, spoke about the history and importance of the group, which has branches at Duke and UNC.
Senators also allocated $3,500 to fund art supplies at the Artistic annex. The annex, which was previously funded by Duke University Union, lost funding during the pandemic due to lack of attendance and funding changes, according to Joshi.
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