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ICC names 3 finalists in young trustee race

The three 1996 finalists for young trustee, released Sunday by the Intercommunity Council, have all held the top leadership positions in some of the largest student organizations on campus.

The finalists are: Trinity senior Jen Bentz, president of the University Union; Trinity senior Peggy Cross, Duke Student Government president; and Trinity senior Shavar Jeffries, chair of the Union's Major Attractions committee and immediate-past president of the Black Student Alliance. They were selected from an initial applicant pool of 21, which was later narrowed to seven and then to three by the Intercommunity Council (see graphic, page 1).

The ICC is made up of leaders of various campus organizations and controls the majority of the young trustee selection process (see graphic, page 4).

Trinity senior LaRonda Peterson, DSG vice president for community interaction and chair of the ICC, said that she was pleased with the final three candidates.

"I'm very impressed with the candidates that we have, and it was a very difficult decision," she said. "I think that any one of the three would be an excellent nominee."

Last week, Peterson denied a request by The Chronicle to release the names of the applicants for young trustee, citing concerns about the confidentiality of the process. But through its own investigation, The Chronicle was able to learn the names of all the applicants, who are listed in a graphic on page one of today's edition.

The three finalists said they were honored to have been selected by the ICC from such a qualified applicant pool.

"I'm delighted to have been chosen," Bentz said. "I know the candidate pool was very strong and I think that I'm in excellent company."

Cross also said she was pleased to be chosen as one of the three finalists.

"I think that there are a lot of people in our class who are worthy of this position, and I'm glad that the committee saw that I was fit to continue to be the voice of the students for the next three years," she said.

Jeffries said he felt similarly. "I think it's a tremendous honor, and I'm happy to make it this far, and I just hope I can make it past the next step," he said. "I think I can serve very well if I'm selected."

The three finalists are scheduled to appear before the DSG legislature on Feb. 13, where they will make speeches and be open to questions about their qualifications for the position.

At that meeting, both the legislature and the ICC will vote to determine the next young trustee, who must be approved by the Board of Trustees in February. No finalist approved by DSG has ever been rejected by the board.

The young trustee selection process has come under fire in recent years, as those who have won the position have tended to be mostly white, male and affiliated with DSG. Of the six young trustees selected since 1990, five have been white men and one has been a black woman--Sarah Dodds, Trinity '95, who was selected last year. Three of the six were affiliated with the student government; three were not. According to The Chronicle's research, this is the first year that a white man has not been among the three finalists.

The position was created in the early 1970s by then-President Terry Sanford to increase student involvement on the Board of Trustees.

DSG selects one young trustee each year, and the Graduate and Professional Student Council selects one every three years. GPSC President Michael Tino, a third-year graduate student in cell biology, said that GPSC will release to The Chronicle the names of its young trustee applicants when its process begins.

All young trustees serve three-year terms, the first year as a non-voting observer and the next two as a full voting member of the board.

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