Ten students are running for Duke Student Government vice president positions but only two races are contested.
The election, which will take place Monday, will decide the vice presidents for the seven DSG committees—academic affairs; Durham and regional affairs; equity and outreach; facilities and the environment; residential life; social culture; and services. The only contested positions are vice president for Durham and regional affairs and vice president of equity and outreach.
DSG’s restructuring in March expanded the number of committees from five to seven, making this the first year that seven vice president positions are available. Students will also elect next year’s Senate members Monday.
“Vice presidents must be able to manage their committees well and make sure their projects come to fruition,” said DSG President-elect Alex Swain, a junior. “They should have their individual agenda and also be key players on the executive board when it comes to making key issues in students’ lives.”
Three candidates are running for the Durham and regional affairs position: freshmen Miranda Goodwin-Raab and Derek Rhodes and sophomore Kelly Scurry. The three currently serve as Durham and regional affairs senators.
Goodwin-Raab said her campaign has two main focuses: centralizing Durham opportunities and increasing voter registration.
“I know [centralizing] doesn’t seem like the biggest deal, but we have so much going on—discounts, food, tickets—that we need to have centralization of all those things so students know we made the effort for students to be connected to Durham,” she said. “I also want to make sure people can vote on campus because you only get one presidential election during college years and that’s a really big thing.”
Rhodes, a Durham native who helped revive the Duke-Durham discount program, said the crux of his campaign is revitalizing the Duke student image in Durham. He said the current image of Duke is marred by the 2006 lacrosse scandal.
“A lot of what I hope to accomplish is to help the community focus back its respect for Duke students and develop an admiration for [them],” he said. “I would focus on off-campus mediation, which we didn’t do a great job with this year. I want to have a hands-on approach with off-campus fraternities and their neighbors.”
Scurry, who also serves as an associate editor for The Chronicle, noted many aspects of his campaign but said there were four main points to his platform: improving Duke-Durham relationships, raising student awareness of Durham political issues, lobbying for space to be reserved for student political organizations and activist groups in the soon-to-be renovated West Union Building and increasing professional opportunities for students throughout the school year.
“What is important to understand about the role of vice president of Durham and regional affairs is that you’re not just dealing with Durham issues but dealing with those Durham issues as a student,” Scurry said. “As someone who has been here for two years, I have that added experience to know what it’s like to see Durham as a Duke student.”
The other contested race is for vice president of equity and outreach, which is between sophomore Stefani Jones, senator for athletics, services and the environment, and junior Ayan Salah, senator for student life.
Jones said her campaign focuses on three talking points—communication, collaboration and advocacy. Although these are broad ideas, she believes these ideas will effectively bring together student groups and start student advocacy.
“When there is an issue that a student group has, I think DSG can be a tool to advocate on their behalf,” she said. “It might be harder [for student groups] to get meetings and credibility with administrators, but if I take on vice president, I can open doors they wouldn’t have before.” A greater focus on campus inequalities—specifically for disabled people and financial aid students—is the primary focus of Salah’s campaign.
She discussed how certain buildings on campus remain inaccessible to disabled students, and even if funds are not available to include elevators, the administration should include ramps so students can at least access the first floor. Salah also proposed that the Career Center have a stipend for financial aid students who need to fly to job interviews and cannot afford tickets.
“I am able to empathize with these [student] groups,” Salah said. “I know the struggles they face [and] a crucial aspect of this position is the ability to understand these groups and know what they need.”
The remaining races are uncontested.
Freshman Tre’ Scott, senator for student life, is running for vice president of the services committee, sophomore Neil Kondamuri, senator of athletics, services and the environment, is running for vice president of social culture and junior George Carotenuto, co-chair of the student environment and sustainability committee, is running for facilities and environment. Additionally, freshman Jacob Zionce, senator for residential life and dining, is running for residential life and freshman Nikolai Doytchinov, a senator for academic affairs, is running for vice president of academic affairs.