Keizra Mecklai plans to make tangible improvements in equity on campus if elected Duke Student Government President.

Mecklai—a junior from Sacramento, Calif.—currently serves as the DSG vice president of equity and outreach. With a platform centered on tackling campus sexual assault and working to make DSG more transparent, Mecklai said her experience leading several initiatives has given her a strong knowledge of what it takes to get things done.

“I feel like I learned a lot about what it means to make an effective strategy to create effective change,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of cool stuff.”

During her time in DSG—first as a senator and currently as VP—Mecklai has helped lead the “I Will Speak Up” and “What I Be” photo campaigns as well as the current Mental Health Awareness Month, all of which address intangible issues with campus culture, she said.

“A lot of what I’ve dealt with are ideas of effortless perfection, mental health and identity. These are all real, but not necessarily concrete,” she said. “I want to apply my skills to DSG at large to make it more effective and more responsive to campus needs.”

As part of her plan to make DSG more responsive, she said she supports current efforts to make the Senate’s elections based on residential constituencies. She would also like House Council presidents to have a role in deciding DSG’s priorities.

"My track record speaks to the fact that I am always willing to work hard, to listen to the perspectives of others and to take criticism." —Keizra Mecklai

“It would be a check on DSG to make us more representative of student desires,” she said.

Opposed to the newly enforced administrative requirement that 30 percent of members living in an SLG or greek housing section be juniors and seniors, she said she intends to help improve housing options on campus.

“I want to create a system in which students can live with larger blocks and to establish a community startup fund in order to implement identity to housing,” she said.

Senior Ray Li, DSG Vice President for academic affairs vouched for Mecklai's drive and dedication.

“Keizra is by far the most passionate student leader I've worked with at Duke,” he said. “She fights for issues because she genuinely cares about them."

If elected, she said sexual assault will be one of her major areas of focus—targeting the issue on three fronts by increasing the representation of Prevent.Act.Challenge.Teach bystander intervention training, clarifying the sexual misconduct policy for students and having more small-scale discussions of sexual assault policy among first-year advisory counselor groups. Her committee is currently calling for the University to set up a fund for reimbursing students who are victims of sexual assault and receive an examination in the emergency room.

"She fights for issues because she genuinely cares about them." —Ray Li

“My track record speaks to the fact that I am always willing to work hard, to listen to the perspectives of others and to take criticism,” she said.

Mecklai is a biology major, minoring in chemistry with a certificate in genome sciences and policy. She has been involved with a number of organizations on campus including Alpha Phi sorority, selective living group Maxwell House, Duke Debate, Common Ground and pre-orientation program Project Build.

Robert Cook-Deegan, a research professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy who has had Mecklai in the classroom, recalled her as both strong and funny.

“I remember her clearly during her freshman year when we did a debate for the genome Focus student discussion course,” Cook-Deegan said. “We had to pick her opponents up off the floor; she was overpowering with how fast she talked and how forceful her arguments were."