Students will be choosing among three candidates for the position of Duke Student Government vice president of Durham and regional affairs Monday. Although each candidate brings a unique perspective to that position, we believe freshman Derek Rhodes stands a cut above the rest. We unequivocally endorse his vice presidential candidacy.
A lifelong Durham native, Rhodes boasts an impressive history of public service. At the age of six, he spearheaded Durham’s Adopt-a-Park program that continues to operate today . While in high school, Rhodes was selected from a citywide application process to serve on the Durham Youth Commission, through which he was able to interact with Mayor Bill Bell. Indeed, he has demonstrated an ability to effectively build relationships with city officials and navigate the world of local politics—crucial skills shared by current vice president Alex Swain.
Perhaps more importantly, Rhodes demonstrates a mature grasp of the nature and limitations of the role. He correctly identifies revitalization of the relationship between Duke students and Durham residents as one of the key goals for the Durham and regional affairs committee next year, pointing particularly to personal mediation between off-campus fraternities and their Durham neighbors. Sophomore Kelly Scurry, an associate editor for The Chronicle, spoke intelligently about a wide array of programs he hopes to implement next year but failed to articulate a broader vision for the vice president position. His proposals focused too narrowly on opportunities Duke students can extract from Durham resources. We were disappointed that Scurry did not think further about how to strengthen Duke-Durham ties to form a mutually beneficial relationship.
Miranda Goodwin-Raab, a freshman, did well to identify key communication barriers that inhibit students from engaging in Durham service opportunities. We believe that her proposal to better centralize and promote ongoing city events via an interactive website or a physical office was pragmatic, feasible and actionable. However, Goodwin-Raab’s inexperience working alongside established leaders was evident, and we believe she will be better suited to serve in this role one year from now.
All three candidates stressed the important role that the Durham and regional affairs committee would play in the 2012 presidential election. But Rhodes best exhibited the natural leadership ability to turn ambitious plans into action. Rhodes’ superior understanding of the vice presidential role coupled with his track record of tangible achievements in Durham make him the clear choice on Monday.
Freshman Tre’ Scott, the sole candidate for vice president of services, is aware of how best to traverse DSG and administrative contexts to cater to student needs. First and foremost, Scott realizes that his effectiveness as a leader hinges on his ability to determine the most pressing student concerns and subsequently deliver concrete solutions. Scott focuses on deliverables as evidenced by his plans to improve the online Duke events calendar and integrate social media into student services. Further, Scott has established a commitment to increasing administrative transparency to better inform students about how their tuition fees are allocated. This past year, he personally investigated operations at the Duke mail warehouse to determine why students were being charged with excess mail fees.
Scott’s results-oriented attitude and practical understanding of what students want make him a solid choice for vice president of services.