Junior Lynn Vandendriessche—selected Sunday as new president of the Duke University Union—wants the group to branch out more to collaborate with other students groups during her tenure.
Vandendriessche’s talent for organization and efficiency set her apart in the applicant pool, said outgoing DUU President Nathan Nye, a senior. Vandendriessche has worked on DUU for the past three years, serving as a member of the Speakers and Stage committee for her freshman year, chair of the committee her sophomore year and currently as executive vice president of DUU. She will now oversee the union, which spans 15 student programming and activities committees, including LDOC, JAZZ@ and the Coffeehouse.
“Something that makes her stand out is her ability to navigate the structure of an organization in a way that reduces inefficiency,” Nye said. “She is an experienced leader in the organization and has a proven track record being there for the people she’s working with.”
As president, Vandendriessche said she hopes to emphasize collaborations with student groups outside of DUU, citing a revision to the organization’s collaboration policy that should make this process easier.
“The job of our vice president [of external affairs] next year is to show student groups that we are open to collaborations,” Vandendriessche said. “We are not a funding group, but we do like to work with other student groups to bring programming.”
Past DUU collaborations included working with the Black Students Alliance to bring performer John Legend to campus and teaming up with Duke Student Government on DukeStarter, a program that assisted students in funding and executing their event ideas.
The decision was made through an application process culminating in an hour-long interview conducted by the entire DUU Executive Board. This year, the board had two applicants for the position—Nye declined to name the other applicant. After each applicant was interviewed, the board met to reach a decision. Nye noted that the application process is open and requires no prior experience.
“What tends to happen is that not that many people apply and it ends up being a self-selective process,” Nye said.
Senior Alex Shapanka, chair of DUU’s Major Attractions Committee, said Vandendriessche is always a source of support for the people with whom she works.
“She’s very cognizant of every committee and keeps in touch with every single committee,” Shapanka said. “She was a great person to lean on this past year if anyone needed anything at all.”
Vandendriessche said that one of her best experiences of bringing students together with DUU happened last year when the organization brought Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi to campus. Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist, spoke in Farsi with a translator.
“Half the audience would laugh when she spoke in her native language and the other half would laugh with the translator,” said Vandendriessce. “It was great how many people we brought together with that event.”
Aside from her involvement with the Union, Vandendriessche is a peer tutor for economics and a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
Vandendriessche has the capacity to unite a variety of people, Nye added. “She really has an eye for students, which is ultimately what matters,” he said.