Benning announced his plan at a private meeting held Wednesday evening in the BSA office of the Bryan Center. Approximately 25 students representing a variety of student organizations including Black Student Alliance, Asian Students Association, Mi Gente and Native American Student Alliance attended. The students received a vague email invitation Wednesday evening and were not aware of the announcement prior to convening.
Benning began by emphasizing the diversity of backgrounds gathered in the BSA office. He elaborated on a few of the causes such as Mi Gente’s efforts to keep one of the few Latino professors at the University and NASA’s efforts to become a larger presence on campus.
“Each of you here today is involved and passionate about a particular cause,” Benning said. “Ultimately, we are working towards a common goal. Instead of each small group desperately working behind closed doors, we can convene as a community and combine our efforts. This isn’t a rat’s race for scarce resources—Duke has plenty."
As part of his campaign over the next two weeks, Benning proposed the creation of an advocacy workshop for the students present at the meeting and leaders of other small student groups whose voices he hopes to unify. The workshop is intended to foster discussion and action by allowing different student groups to work together in gaining attention from the Board of Trustees.
Benning also plans to host a forum open to all undergraduates on the Main West Quadrangle in the next few weeks to get feedback from a broader group of students. Discussions at the forum would be made public and an avenue would be created for further input from students.
“My support and dedication to Duke does not stop with a lost election,” he said. “I am confident that as long as I am present, our voices will be heard, and that’s really all that matters to me right now. I have nothing to lose.”