Junior Rence Nemeh plans to use his experience in “cross-campus student collaboration” experience to serve the Duke community as the next Duke Student Government president.
Nemeh, a candidate in the 2014 DSG presidential campaign, said that he is uniquely qualified for the position because of his experience in many student life sectors, including Duke University Improv, Duke University Union, Sabrosura, DefMo and DukeAfrica. He noted that these collaborations have given him a thorough understanding of the University.
“We need to break down what types of experience matter,” Nemeh said. “I collaborate with almost every inch of our campus and am the only candidate with these first-hand Duke perspectives.”
Nemeh emphasized the importance of his relationships with Duke administrators, especially Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek.
“I have both co-hosted theater departmental shows with Dean Sue and yelled at her in Sabro promo videos, but at the end of the day we are just two pickles in a jar,” Nemeh said. “A jar large enough to fit only two pickles, so we’re pretty close.”
In the future, Nemeh said he would like to see the relationship between DSG and the student body change, allowing for more open discussion and accessibility. He said the DSG president should take responsibility for students’ rights and represent their interests.
“I would like to see DSG...as a resource for students and not an ambiguous entity of suits in a room,” Nemeh said. “I would enthusiastically open executive office hours, give out my personal number and be on call 24/7 and continue to attend and collaborate with as many student organizations, events and causes year-round.”
One of the most significant issues currently facing Duke students is the noise and inconvenience caused by West Campus renovations, Nemeh said. He suggested that students work around the temporary construction and realize that the benefits will eventually outweigh the costs.
“By pushing to maximize student spaces in the future West Union, actively seeking student input on current dining options and finding a cute nickname for the Chapel Crane, I will make the best out of the renovations process,” Nemeh said.
Nemeh has a student-centered position on the 40 Percent Plan, a hot-button issue for many undergraduates. He noted that DSG should ultimately support student opinions and debate on the issue and should reform the Student Organization Finance Committee power carefully.
If elected, Nemeh said he will bring new ideas and perspectives to DSG, including his recommendation to plant a time capsule on the Main Quad for students to write letters for the Class of 2020. Although he does not have significant DSG experience, his relationships with many varied student groups will allow him to represent the University fairly.
“I want to challenge the social constructs we have of what a leader is supposed to look and sound like on campus,” Nemeh said. “While no candidate this year is the typical candidate with years of DSG experience, I am uniquely prepared and confident to represent our campus.”
Maha Houssami, professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies, said Nemeh will be an unconventional but valuable addition to DSG.
“He’s a hot mess,” Houssami said.
Junior Zeena Bhakta, a friend of Nemeh, said he is the most qualified candidate and will work hard in his position if elected.
“He has the most experience collaborating with all parts of campus first-hand and his energy is unmatched,” Bhakta said.