Without a single minute of discussion about the three candidates and after only a brief question-and-answer session, the Duke Student Government legislature and the Intercommunity Council voted last night to approve Trinity senior Shavar Jeffries as the next young trustee.
Jeffries defeated Trinity senior Peggy Cross, DSG president, and Trinity senior Jennifer Bentz, president of the University Union, to win the position. DSG did not release the breakdown of the vote, but the organization's bylaws dictate that young trustee candidates must win a majority of the votes-not just a plurality-in order to be named to the position.
In his speech, Jeffries emphasized the need to "open up lines of communication" between the trustees and the members of the University community. He said that his track record at the University has proven that he will provide "active leadership that will ensure the salience of student concerns."
"It's a tremendous feeling to me," Jeffries said in a brief interview after the vote was announced. "It's a great honor that the student body feels that I can represent it and represent it well over the next three years. I'm tremendously grateful and I'm about to go home and thank my Jesus."
After listening to each candidate speak for four minutes and answer questions for five minutes, the legislature twice voted down a motion to open up discussion about the candidates.
Although the first motion to make that discussion period last five minutes was soundly defeated by a voice vote, the second motion to extend it to two minutes failed by what seemed a much closer margin, although Trinity junior Randy Fink, DSG executive vice president, did not call for a show of hands.
After the vote and during her presentation to the legislature in her capacity as DSG president, Cross congratulated Jeffries, who by that time had left the meeting to meet a prior engagement.
"Shavar will be an excellent representative of the student body, and he will earn the respect of the board, and I'm very proud of the fact that he will be the student trustee for the next three years," Cross said.
Jeffries currently serves as chair of the Major Attractions Committee of the Union, and during his tenure the committee has brought a record number of programming events to campus. He has also served as president of the Black Student Alliance and as head of the Duke University Movement Organized for Racial Equity, which he founded in the spring of 1995 to protest the firing of the University's highest-ranking black administrator.
The young trustee serves a three-year term on the Board of Trustees, the first year as a non-voting member and the last two years as a member with full voting privileges. 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; the Graduate and Professional Student Council selects one every three years and will do so this year.
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