Lavanya Sunder gears up for role as DSG president
This is one entry of the "Ten People to Watch" list in July's Towerview.
From bikes to food trucks, it is hard to find someone who cares about the experience of Duke students more than Lavanya Sunder.
Although she was elected as the president of Duke Student Government when she was only a sophomore, Sunder has already worked to implement big changes on campus. And she continues to strive the students that she represents.
“I would like my legacy at Duke to be that I was able to make DSG matter to the everyday student,” Sunder said. “I think that DSG has this reputation that only students involved with DSG—or friends of students involved—really care about what we do, but I think we have a much larger impact, and I want to be able to share that impact with more students.”
To accomplish her goals, Sunder says she will always be gathering suggestions and opinions from the student body. Her consistent dedication to communication is no more evident than in her commitment to reviving Fix My Campus. What was once an unknown DSG initiative, Fix My Campus, has thrived under Sunder’s direction.
She implemented a popular Facebook page for the program that now has nearly 2,300 members. The page has become a lively aggregate for campus discussion and student concerns. With the prevalence of construction on campus, dining is one of the most commonly discussed topics.
And Sunder has stepped into the ring to serve students on this front as well: advocating for increased options and improved access to food trucks during peak meal times.
“I want people to remember me as someone that cares about what the entire campus thinks,” she said.
As a statistics major with minors in mathematics and computer science, Sunder is excited about the possibilities of using new technology to improve communication between DSG and the student body.
“DSG has been a little bit behind the times when it comes to using technology to maximize our effectiveness,” Sunder said. “I think that that is what differs me from past presidents—that I will be able to use the new tools available to make DSG a much more transparent and responsive body.
Above all of her accomplishments, however, Sunder’s biggest piece of advice for new students is to branch out and try new things—never put yourself in a box.
The Houston native enjoys dancing, listening to music, watching movies—both from Hollywood and Bollywood—in her free time, but she credits all of her involvement in DSG to childhood mentor Patrick Oathout, Trinity ’14. He first introduced Sunder to the excitement of campus elections, and she has been hooked ever since.
“The best part about Duke is that you're able to meet so many different people from different backgrounds, who have different views, beliefs and experiences,” Sunder said. “Only associating with the same group of people doesn't let you fully have a Duke experience.”