Joining a Greek organization may not only give you “sisters for life” but also a ticket to a successful Duke Student Government campaign.

In February, senior Ilana Weisman, vice president for equity and outreach at the time and this year’s executive vice president, conducted a demographics survey of DSG, showing that 56 percent of last year’s DSG members are Greek-affiliated and 24 percent are members of selective living groups. During the most recent election, 35 percent of candidates were Greek-affiliated, 25 percent were SLG-affiliated and an additional 10 percent were affiliated with both types of organizations. 

“I think affiliated students can have an advantage in personality—often times gregarious, involved—and reach at Duke as their social circles can be expansive,” DSG president Tara Bansal, a senior, wrote in an email. “Moreover, being part of a community (in my case, ‘sisterhood’) where supporting one another is considered a tenet and value of the group is a unique benefit to affiliated groups.”

According to the Duke Student Affairs website, approximately 34 percent of Duke students are Greek-affiliated. From all DSG elections in the past year, 69 percent of DSG’s current elected members—including president, executive vice president, student organization funding committee chair, vice presidents and senators—are Greek-affiliated.

Of the newly-elected senators this year, only 24 percent are independent students. Of the four candidates who were in both Greek and SLG organizations, three were elected, compared to four out of 13 independent students that ran.

“This conversation is a good opportunity for Duke students to think about the privilege implicit with being affiliated and how to neutralize rather than capitalize on that privilege, something I think is rarely talked about, and I humbly acknowledge I’ve only thought about recently,” Bansal wrote.

For a second year in a row, six of the seven DSG vice presidents are Greek-affiliated and the other is SLG-affiliated. In fact, the entire Executive Board this year is Greek or SLG-affiliated, except for sophomore Kushal Kadakia, DSG chief of staff, who is independent. He lost his bid for vice president for academic affairs to sophomore Sean Bissell, a member of Delta Tau Delta.

“While selectives definitely have a huge impact on who gets elected, they don’t really have any extra influence over the decisions DSG makes more than any other group,” DSG Attorney General Annie Adair, a senior, wrote in an email. “If the change needs to made, we’ll make the change if we think it’s in the best interest of the student body.”

Bansal similarly explained that she believes few DSG decisions are directly hinged on identity markers such as race, gender, affiliation or wealth.

However, there might be one instance in which affiliations affected a DSG decision. When the Senate was approving annual budgets for various student organizations, the mock trial budget was very controversial. Billy Silk, Trinity ‘16 and president of mock trial at the time, presented at the meeting to persuade senators that mock trial should receive more funding that SOFC originally allocated. 

“I believe that some senators were influenced by their connection to Billy Silk through the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity,” said sophomore Michael Gulcicek, senator for equity and outreach at the time.

However, junior Eddy Torgas—senator for residential life at the time—said that he believes that his connection with Billy Silk and AEPi minimally influenced the vote.

“I know Billy through both Mock Trial and our fraternity and I will admit I may have voted differently if I didn’t know Billy as much or if I had not been in Mock Trial and didn’t know firsthand what the money was going to,” Torgas wrote in an email Sunday. “That being said, I would like to think that the vast majority of the members of DSG, myself included, hold themselves to an ethical and moral standard that requires them to acknowledge any biases they may hold and to look beyond them in any decisions they make.”

Originally, senators voted for increased funding but later overturned that decision. According to Weisman’s demographic study, Alpha Epsilon Pi is most represented fraternity in DSG.

For the past four years, the DSG president has been Greek-affiliated. In the most recent presidential race, Adair—an independent student—lost by 51 votes to Bansal, a member of Alpha Phi sorority.

“Though I hate to say it, Greek and SLG affiliations dominate major elections and are the name of the game,” Adair wrote. “Anybody who says otherwise is lying. To win a major position—president, Young Trustee, EVP—in an opposed race necessitates the support of huge voting blocks of selective groups.”

In April, The Chronicle obtained evidence indicating that Alpha Phi awarded members a merit point for changing their Facebook profile or cover picture to support Bansal’s bid for president, which Alpha Phi President Akahne Philpot later confirmed. Eighty-two girls were each awarded a point for their efforts. 

“It’s disappointing to see there was a structured system to incentivize members of a group into publicly supporting a candidate from their own organization,” Adair wrote. “I hope practices like this cease to exist for the sake of independent candidates.”

Philpot, however, wrote in an email that the points were retroactively awarded.

“Many girls in Alpha Phi were happy to support Tara, and we’re really proud of her,” Philpot wrote. “The point is more of an aftermath regarding a show of sisterhood and less of an incentive.”

Bansal noted that the lessened success for independent students should galvanize them to become more involved in DSG.

“I would emphasize that this conversation is not meant to discourage independent students from joining DSG—rather a call to action for more independent students to run and vote,” Bansal wrote.