For sophomore Jackson Dellinger, the Duke student body and the local community are one and the same.

A North Carolina native, Dellinger has been a senator in Duke Student Government's Durham and regional affairs committee for two years. He has spearheaded projects such as improving student voting and is currently working on the revision of the University’s alcohol amnesty policy to include social groups. Now, he aims to serve as DSG president. 

In his campaign, Dellinger said he hopes to integrate broader student input into the organization’s goals and improve internal communication.

“I’m of the philosophy that what DSG should be working on is whatever students are interested in,” Dellinger said. “The cornerstone is that before DSG can go around fixing [problems], we should be talking to you and seeing what your experience is at Duke. And once we've had that conversation and together come to a conclusion about what our priorities should be, DSG's job is to then effectuate the notions that we reach together.”

As a framework for his vision, Dellinger pointed to his efforts in expanding Duke's alcohol amnesty policy, which required him and his team to conduct interviews with various living groups on campus.

Dellinger also cited his lifelong Durham residency and his past DSG projects, which he said will serve as inspiration for future efforts.

“In Durham and regional affairs, when you’re trying to connect to the community, the first way to err is to have the hubris to think you—as a Duke student—are some omniscient being able to speak for all Durhamites,” he said. “And it's that same kind of flaw in reasoning that can cripple us as an institution, outside of Durham and within the student body. Most folks within DSG probably can’t claim to be able to speak for all the various identity groups, backgrounds and personalities at Duke.”

Dellinger’s focus on working with more student groups is a critical step to his larger vision of “being bold,” he explained. He wants to take more action to address issues like the sexual misconduct policy, undocumented student rights and environmental change and impact. 

Part of these efforts would require connecting with other universities across North Carolina, Dellinger said, adding that such collaborations could give students more bargaining power at the state level.

“In the next four years…the things that are going to affect Duke students aren't just matters of Duke policy,” he said. “They're going to be matters of state policy and national policy. And if we organize collectively, I think we'll have a much greater ability to lobby on the state level with the general assembly.”

Dellinger noted that he also envisions DSG’s role in political advocacy expanding—enabling them to make larger statements about relevant issues on behalf of the student body.

“Obviously, we shouldn't be a partisan body—but we can be a political one,” he said.

Looking at the organization of DSG, Dellinger said that he will follow recent efforts to bolster its efficiency. He applauded the recent cut-down in subcommittee structure and noted that other internal reforms could also improve DSG’s general efficacy and increase inter-group communication.

In addition, Dellinger noted that although he has enjoyed working with President Richard Brodhead thus far, he also welcomes the opportunity to turn the page next year with Vincent Price, Duke’s incoming president and current provost of the University of Pennsylvania.

“[Incoming] President Price has an incredible background, and his election speaks to a number of opportunities to make changes that President Brodhead might not have been entirely open to,” Dellinger said. “A new fresh perspective is definitely something that I quite frankly am excited about.”