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Selection of trustee will proceed

The Duke Student Government Judiciary upheld the selection of the three young trustee finalists Thursday, as it announced its ruling on the complaint filed by semi-finalist Sean Young.

In its ruling, the Judiciary strongly condemned "the irresponsible violations" of senior C.J. Walsh, the Young Trustee Nominating Committee chair and DSG president. The Judiciary added that it will recommend "many specific changes to the by-laws based on the issues raised in this complaint and to prevent future misinterpretation and improper execution of said rules."

Young, a senior, said he was satisfied with some parts of the decision.

"The Judiciary strongly condemned the irresponsible actions of the Young Trustee Nominating Committee, which to me is a public affirmation of the integrity of the process," Young wrote in an e-mail. "My main disappointment is that the Judiciary did not recognize that having a different number of interviewers constituted any sort of violation against the basic concept of fairness."

In his initial complaint, Young alleged that a quorum of the selection committee was not reached during candidate interviews, that an unequal number of voting members were present at each interview and that Walsh violated by-laws by voting. The Judiciary ruled that the first two points were not in violation of by-laws and that although Walsh was in clear violation of by-laws by voting, his vote had no impact on the final outcome.

"I am ecstatic that the integrity of the process was upheld.... I recognize my errors and I appreciate their efforts in rectifying them," Walsh said.

"It's unfortunate that the process was sullied by the complaint of a lesser qualified candidate," he added.

Young trustee finalist Adam Grossman, a senior, said he was glad the process will proceed and looks forward to Feb. 6, when the Legislature and the YTNC will make a final selection.

Semi-finalist Vik Devisetty, president of Campus Council, said that although Duke will end up with a great young trustee, he felt the Judiciary showed a lack of courage in not mandating that the process be redone.

The other finalists, seniors Sara Elrod and Bunia Parker, and three other semi-finalists either could not be reached for comment or had no immediate reaction to the ruling.

Chief Justice Meggan Wurzburg said the Judiciary's decision was based mostly on the vague content of the by-laws.

"The by-laws are riddled with so many loopholes, it was as if it was just waiting for something like this to happen. I'm glad that Sean brought forth the complaint," said Wurzburg, a senior.

She added that in past years, much of the process has been passed down through precedent rather than through detailed by-laws. Wurzburg pointed to Young's complaint regarding the number of members at interviews as an example: Traditionally, all 15 members of the YTNC are present at all interviews and the final vote. But the by-laws only require that two-thirds of the committee be present for the final vote, Wurzburg said.

Moreover, the by-laws' mandate that all DSG legislators be present for the entirety of standing committee meetings with the finalists as well as their final speeches, is not extended to YTNC members. Therefore, she said the absence of committee members at interviews and at the final vote, though unfortunate, did not violate by-laws.

Wurzburg said the Judiciary would make several recommendations to the Legislature in the coming weeks. Walsh agreed that the by-laws need revision.

"I think we should strike them and start from scratch," he said. "There should be compulsory attendance at the interviewing and voting and compulsory attendance at meetings of the Inter-community Council preceding and following the selection process."

Wurzburg said the Judiciary would recommend the creation of a parliamentarian position on the committee. She said such a person could watch for by-law violations while maintaining the confidentiality of the selection process.

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