Lavanya Sunder, a junior and Duke Student Government President, has led DSG through a semester of both accomplishments and challenges. The Chronicle's Kali Shulklapper conducted an interview with Sunder on DSG’s endeavors and goals for the future.

The Chronicle: How do you feel DSG has run this semester? What do you feel are some of DSG’s biggest accomplishments?

Lavanya Sunder: We’ve really done a lot this semester in terms of focusing our efforts on a number of projects expanding student life. The projects that I’m most proud of, and in no particular order, are:

One, helping to revamp the women’s mentoring network—completely revamping it, starting cool new programming with networks to the alumni network, creating mentors and really just completely changing that. We now have a lot of women involved in that.

Two, successful launch of the new tailgate model, which is Devilsgate—really making sure that that model is sustainable for years to come.

Three, we’re really proud of our final launch of Zagster, the new bike-share program that DSG has been working on bringing to campus for almost a year. Membership is increasing day by day, and we're starting to see the program become a part of campus life.

Four, the launch of the research unit DSGRU and the first commissioning of questions that will be used to assess Duke life.

Five, we've been really, really impressed with the way that the Durham and Regional Affairs Committee was able to mobilize voters and make sure that voter identification laws were well known—and we actually increased voting at the polls by 30 percent from the last midterm year.

Six, for the first time in Duke history we got a panel on diversity in greek life to appear—which is a really big thing that I supported in my platform while running for president.

Seven, the Queering Duke History exhibit—President [Richard] Brodhead's Task Force on LGBTQ Affairs Task Force and sort of the general push for more LGBTQ academics on campus. DSG is now working pretty heavily on pursuing an LGBTQ DukeImmerse program.

TC: What have been the biggest challenges?

LS: I think the biggest challenges have revolved around communication with regards to construction and also campus life in general. DSG administration has found it difficult to communicate the things that we have been doing. It was difficult to navigate the voting ID laws and voting in general—very difficult to figure out where students should vote, how they register, et cetera, and more so just to make sure that students were aware of the information after we found out. And then, making sure we got funding for buses to the polling locations, et cetera, was very difficult.

As far as DSGRU, the commissioning process was a little contentious on the floor, but worthwhile in the long run. But other than that I think we did a fairly good job at kind of attacking what we wanted to. We have a number of projects that are still in the works, but I think the difficulty is that they are still in the works. We're currently working on a West Union Arts project—encouraging students to think of construction in a positive life and encouraging arts on campus. The difficulty is just that those projects take time, but we are working on them as soon as possible.

TC: What do you feel DSG has not accomplished/ will be continuously working on next semester? What are some of its biggest goals?

LS: We are working on the housing model—reviewing the residential guidelines for housing and making sure they're reflective of what we think the good characteristics of a house are. We’re also working on some initiatives to help promote socio-economic inclusivity with the Career Center, potentially working on providing free test prep books, access to subsidized test prep courses and professional clothing.

We’re also working heavily to make sure student voices are reflected in the curriculum reform that's happening. Vice-President of Academic Affairs Ray Li and I have been invited to serve on the Curriculum Review Advisory Committee, which advises the actual committee of faculty reviewing the curriculum. We're just working to ensure student voices are reflected in the entire process.

TC: What changes would you like to see implemented on a broader level?

LS: We’re potentially looking at revamping the way Duke communicates with students—that project is honestly so under construction that I can’t say anything more other than that we are trying to figure out a better way that Duke can provide information or that students can access information.

TC: What kind of problems do you see in the current model?

LS: I think its twofold. So one, when there’s info that exists, it’s difficult to find and sometimes it’s contradictory and repetitive and usually there’s not just one place for students to go for something. There are a lot of different sources and you can get academic information through ACES, student affairs websites and also the Duke University website. So we’re trying to see if maybe there’s a way that we can make all of that a little bit more cohesive.