The Chronicle's Georgia Parke talked to Duke Democrats President Diego Quezada, a junior and Durham native, about his role as leader and what the group's priorities are during the year.
The Chronicle: What do you hope to do as president?
DQ: Hopefully making Duke a more political campus, because I feel that in some ways Duke isn’t a political campus and I want to grow that political activism on campus.
TC: What do you mean by that?
DQ: It takes very specific instances for people to notice politics and get involved because many people are so involved in their studies they have their own interests. It may be hard for them to deal with that and politics. When you look at what is being done at the state level, such as the voter ID bill, this affects you whether you care that much about politics or not. It’s fundamental to our democracy—the idea that we all have a vote. It’s a vital part of why we say we are this great country.
TC: What are your goals for the upcoming year?
DQ: We’ve already set up a retreat over fall break at Virginia Tech. We’ll stay in dorms and canvas residents in the area for the delegate races for their lower house at the state level…. Although we’re not going to put too much emphasis on the municipal elections this fall, we do want to do something because it is the election this year so I organized a meeting with one of the candidates for Durham City Council to speak to us.
More broadly one of my big goals is to create Duke Democrats as a social space and a safe space. One thing we noticed last year, after the election, people really tapered off a lot. [We will make] the chapter a social group so people have friends.
TC: How many active members do you have?
DQ: About 20, probably.
TC: Are you recruiting freshmen to the group?
DQ: We are having our first meeting on East Campus to make it more convenient for freshmen. We’re also going to have a position on our executive board open to first year students.
TC: What’s your main political issue?
DQ: I think it would be voting rights I would say that this is one issue that affects students directly.
At the federal level, there was a lot of controversy over the student loan bill… I am hoping to create some work around that because so many of our students take out loans. One of the biggest issues in our country is educational equity—why is it that some people are able to go to the best schools and have great education, but others because of where they were born, which they have no control over, they don’t have the same opportunities?
TC: What is your relationship with Duke College Republicans?
DQ: When I took the presidency I was told that one of the things we’ve been interested in doing is having a debate. I know that when I was a freshman they came out against Amendment One. Having a debate in forum to express differences is one thing, but I think also to try to create an air of agreement. The college people here may have different views than the national party, which is completely possible.