Will Giles aims to elicit campus-wide discussions with his election campaign, just as he has with his colorful sweater collection.
Currently an associate justice for the Duke Student Government Judiciary, junior Will Giles is in the race for the next DSG President. Running for a position that is most often held by members of the DSG Executive Board, Giles believes that his different background can provoke awareness of democracy on campus, gender equality and strengthening of housing community—key elements in his platform.
“I want to run for president because there needs to be new blood in the race,” Giles said. “The DSG presidential election brings about the same type of ‘cookie cutter’ candidates every year, I want to offer new ideas and bring attention to new issues.”
One of the first steps Giles will take if elected is reforming DSG to increase democracy. Giles said that currently, many executive board decisions are made without discussion in the DSG Senate or with the student body, specifically noting the way in which the executive board recently handled the 40 Percent Plan.
Giles said that to give students more of a voice within DSG, he would require that all senators and members of the Student Organizations Finance Committee be elected by the student body, as opposed to appointed by the executive board. He also supports encouraging students to participate in the democratic process by allocating funds, whether through the 40 Percent Plan or an alternative that the student body decides on.
“The real Fix My Campus is not a Facebook page—the real Fix My Campus is democracy,” Giles said, referencing an initiative started by candidate Lavanya Sunder.
Although he has been promoting democracy through his work in the Judiciary—from which he has taken a leave of absence to prevent conflict of interest during the campaign—Giles feels that his other involvements, notably as captain of the women’s basketball practice squad and as House Council President, have allowed him to have a better understanding of issues such as campus gender dynamics and lack of community in the house model.
As president, Giles would advocate for the FINvite program where the University funds activities that houses organize for students and faculty to interact in Durham. He believes that this can enhance the connections between members of the house, between students and faculty and between Duke and Durham.
Gender inequality is another issue that he aims to address, Giles said, noting specifically the differential attention given to men’s and women’s sports as well as gender stereotypes in campus culture.
“Putting a gender equality amendment in the DSG constitution may not solve all the problems, but it will increase awareness and bring us closer to this equality,” Giles said.
Junior Momin Ghaffar, who has known Giles since freshman year, showed his support for Giles, highlighting Giles’ genuineness and open-mindedness.
“He is willing to trust himself and people around him, and he is here to change the world for the better,” Ghaffar said.
Professor of Political Science Georg Vanberg also believes Giles would make a great DSG president.
“If you spend anytime talking with him about the issues confronting students, it’s obvious that he is extremely passionate and believes deeply in the changes he advocates,” Vanberg said. “He has thought a lot about concrete ways to make student government more effective.”