Four seniors presented their visions for the Young Trustee position at Wednesday’s Duke Student Government meeting.

President Pro-tempore Jackson Dellinger, a junior, spoke to the significance of having the finalists speak to the Senate.

“I see it as DSG’s responsibility to encourage voter participation not just in DSG elections but in all elections. For Senators to do that, they should probably be informed as to the qualifications of the different candidates who are running in the election in question,” Dellinger said.

The 2018 Young Trustee elections will be held from Feb. 13 at noon to Feb. 14 at noon. 

Liz Brown

Liz Brown said she would “intimately bring” a new voice to the Duke-Durham relationship. Each year, there is a young trustee candidate who focuses on Durham issues, Brown said. However, Brown has already made plans to live in Durham next year. She will be working for the Democratic Party in the city regardless of her election as young trustee.

“Duke and Durham are the same place,” Brown said.

As DSG’s vice president of Durham and Regional Affairs, she has “call[ed]” out those who have been agents of gentrification in Durham. As a co-founder of the Coalition for Alleviating Poverty and working with the Community Empowerment Fund, she emphasized that a “conversation lacking on campus” is one concentrating on “economic justice.” Combined efforts of CAP, Durham CAN and general student pressure acted as an “impetus” for Duke’s investment in Durham to enable the creation of 80 affordable housing units on Jackson St, she said. 

Her work with DSG and affordable housing initiatives has given Brown first-hand experience with actors similar to those on the Board, she said. She said that it was “ridiculous” how no one currently serving on the Board of Trustees is from North Carolina. Because of her “familiarity” with Duke and Durham, Brown advocated that she would bring a voice to cause both the Board and the Duke community to think more about Durham.

“We need to push our students to the next level. I think I will bring that hunger to the Board of Trustees,” Brown said.

Amy Kramer

Amy Kramer’s vision for Duke is “three-fold”: more investment in equity and access, diversity inclusion and collaboration and innovation. Her speech focused on creating “new financial aid incentives” and disability rights. The conversation to make Duke “100 percent accessible” did not occur, she said. But, as young trustee, she would bring that perspective into the boardroom.

“That is the power of a young trustee," Kramer noted. "The Board votes on consensus. It is not the vote that matters. It is the ability to speak up and change the dynamic of the conversation."

Recognizing that many candidates mention their advocacy for diversity on campus, Kramer said that “it sounds good,” but distinguished herself because of her research on female leaders in ROTC programs.

“My research proved that the female presence makes a difference. It changes the conversation. It changes the policy that the Board deals with. We talk about wanting to curb sexual assault and changing the dynamic on campus. We should have women leading that conversation,” Kramer said. “Only two of the last 10 young trustees have been women. I want to be the third. That will change the conversation.”

As a Schwarzman Scholar, she will be studying in Beijing, China next year. To Kramer, this puts her in a “unique position” as she will be able to apply her acquired “global Duke perspective” once she would be a voting member on the Board of Trustees the following year. 

“Me being in China is an asset to Duke,” Kramer said.

Chinmay Pandit

Chimnay Pandit, an economics and political science double major, spoke about his passion for teaching and how much he loves its “collaborative” nature. 

To Pandit, a young trustee is not someone who has a “narrow stance” on multiple issues. It is someone who “takes a step back” to observe how the Duke undergraduate experience fits into “the bigger picture.” He stressed that his experience this past year as a student representative on the Board of Trustees has taught him how to respond to the “number one hurdle” of “intimidation.”

“[The Board] is pretty out of touch with the undergraduate experience," Pandit said. "I know how to do that because I have done that. This past year I’ve been a student representative on the Board of Trustees. When it comes to housing, I know how to respond. I know what those dynamics are in the boardroom setting. I know how to look a millionaire trustee in the eyes and tell them that I respectfully disagree with them."

Even though he will be working in New York next year, Pandit said that he will “come back a day or two” before the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting.

When posed with a question of one of the most difficult experiences he has had as a student representative, he remarked on how “financially irresponsible” the Board might be and how students “cannot do anything about it.” Pandit discussed how instrumental he was in reversing that mentality by questioning why the Board was talking about “the problems” and not “the solutions.” 

“If you had a magic wand, what would you fix?” Pandit asked. “All of a sudden, [the Board was] thinking of how [it] could fix the problem and not dwelling on it.” 

Bryce Cracknell

Elizabeth Barahona, not acting within her role as vice president for equity and outreach, spoke on behalf of Cracknell because of his prior commitments of talking to three other groups on campus. Cracknell thought Barahona would “be best to represent him” because of their past collaborations to fight for justice on campus.

Ranging from the defacement of a Black Lives Matter poster to the targeting of LGBTQ+ students, Barahona said that Cracknell has been “working nonstop” with various communities on campus during his Duke career. Barahona said that he worked with her sometimes until two in the morning alongside being “instrumental” in creating a second town hall to respond to the administration suppressing student voices “only during his sophomore year.” After serving on the Trinity Student Diversity Advisory Committee, he knows how to work with Trinity College Dean Valerie Ashby–in addition to his ongoing work with undocumented students and the Latino community, she said.

“He was able to persuade our administrators to listen to collective student demands. To me, that is powerful,” Barahona added.

She added that Cracknell understands that the “biggest issue on campus” is sexual assault. While he has a “top down approach”—drawing attention to helping both parties involved in the process—his involvement in the Black Men’s Union is one of a “bottom up approach”—as he is aware of the “toxic masculinity that men bring to Duke and continue to perpetuate.”

“He knows what he doesn’t know, " Barahona said. "He knows what his gaps are, and he knows how to fill them. That means talking to student leaders. That means going to communities that aren’t his own and really finding out what that is."

In other business:

The Senate passed a budgetary statute to allocate $148.36 from the Legislative Discretionary Fund Account to the DSG Board of Elections for 200 FedEx color printed flyers plus tax for the 2018 Young Trustees elections.

The following new groups were approved: Compass Center Ambassadors at Duke, DukeGIVE, Duke Student Global Health Review, Harmonies for Health, Project H.E.A.L., Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapter and Program II Majors’ Union.

The Senate funded Duke Splash $2,925 for an event to educate middle and high school students from the local community and the Duke Catholic Center $4,030 for a speaker event.