In Wednesday’s Editorial, we endorsed candidates for three of the five contested committees. Today, we turn to the remaining two contested races—facilities and the environment and services.
Facilities and the environment
Throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, cranes will continue to renovate our campus. It is therefore unsurprising that the vice president for facilities and the environment will be important in minimizing the negative effects of these projects.
The two candidates for the position, sophomore Max Schreiber and junior Ellie Schaack, both bring energy yet represent two different archetypes of candidates. Max is the unorthodox choice. Having never served in the Duke Student Government Senate, he offers new lifeblood to the organization, proposes strong ideas and a refreshing outlook on DSG reform. In particular, his commitment to providing free employee parking is laudable, as parking remains an intractable issue. However, the rest of his platform fell short. Instead of planning realistic strategies to tackle construction concerns, he champions long-term building sustainability and quad access. Although important, these issues do not adequately represent the scope of the VP position or the challenges construction will present next year.
In contrast, Ellie Schaack has invaluable experience as the incumbent VP for facilities and the environment. She has a much better understanding of the position and an awareness of student concerns, including disability accessibility. Her strong relationships with administrators, solid foundation of institutional knowledge and understanding of construction make her the stronger candidate. Although we are concerned about Schaack’s questionable track record since her appointment, we still believe she is better fit for the position.
Construction will also present unique challenges to the continuity and accessibility of services. Between the two candidates, junior Taylor Turkeltaub and sophomore Billy Silk, we endorse Billy Silk. We appreciated Taylor’s sensitivity to student health issues. After organizing a successful eating disorder week, she is well-positioned to advocate for improving such health services. However, she seemed unfamiliar with the broad range of services that are addressed as a VP of services.
Silk, on the other hand, offered a firm understanding of this range of services. From towing and laundry services to counseling and psychological services reform and improved dining, his platform was comprehensive and inclusive. With Judiciary experience and strong policy proposals, we believe he would be effective in implementing the changes he proposes. In particular, we were impressed by his attention to the issue of weekend access to birth control, and we strongly hope this proposal will come to fruition.
In light of concerns raised recently regarding poor DSG attendance, we strongly encourage students to consider this metric seriously and hold their representatives accountable when casting their votes. If what a person does in the past is any indication of what they will do in the future, this history of absences should not be disregarded. Grandiose plans from representatives are not uncommon, but if representatives do not attend the meetings where these plans become realities, then even the strongest platforms become fruitless.
To those who win this election, we encourage you to take the responsibilities of the elected positions seriously. DSG has often been criticized as an ineffective organization, and if the organization wants to increase its legitimacy, attending meetings is the first and necessary step. If its members truly believe DSG has the power to make change, their attendance should reflect that belief.