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Meet DSG

Welcome back to Duke University and congratulations to the Class of 2006! This is going to be a great year. Your student government has already hit the ground running, and we have a lot in store for you. Our Executive Board and Cabinet members have returned with excitement and enthusiasm, ready to better serve you. Before I tell you about specific goals and objectives, I would like to share some history with you.

Over the summer the University experienced many changes. The West-Edens Link was completed with the introduction of two new eateries, Rick's Diner and Blue Devil Beanery. Construction began on both the new parking deck and the new engineering building. The two most significant changes are the addition of 350 more students to West Campus and having all sophomores on West.

I spent the summer here in Durham taking classes and getting student government prepared for a very productive year. While here, I held eight summer advisory meetings. The topics of these meetings included parking and facilities, residential life, a tour of the WEL under construction, academic integrity, Bryan Center renovations, development of a student village, Perkins Library renovations, Duke's social scene on and off campus, the experience of undergraduate women and race, ethnicity, and religion. The meetings brought administrators, faculty members and students together to discuss these topics and how they impact our University.

I also worked on several projects over the summer. Two in particular are coming to fruition: The New York Times and USA Today readership program and an undergraduate internal student portal website. The first project is the campus-wide distribution of The New York Times and USA Today Newspapers. Through a collaborative effort between Duke Student Government and the administration, Duke undergraduates will soon have the ability to grab a free copy of either The New York Times, USA Today or Herald-Sun from six DukeCard-managed machines. The machines will be spread throughout campus, with locations including the Bryan Center, Cambridge Inn, WEL tower, the Marketplace and two Central Campus bus stops. The full-fledged readership program will begin the second week of October. There will be a trial run in order to gauge the demand for the papers as of the second week of September.

The University will not simply continue to hand out free newspapers to students. It will be up to all of us as students to convince the administration to continue to distribute these newspapers by coming up with innovative ways to incorporate their use into our daily academic lives. Two ways that this can be done are by developing new house courses that use these papers as a base for the course or coming up with formalized dinner discussions or open debates about current issues. I know that the best source of ideas will come from you, and I invite you to share your thoughts with me. We have one year to convince the administration to continue this program.

The student internal portal site will give students easy access to all heavily used online student resources, such as Blackboard, ACES web, e-mail access, Merchants on Points menus, OIT and library resources. This is still a project in the works. We hope that we will have it complete and ready to use by the beginning of second semester or, if possible, by mid-first semester.

There is a lot more to come from DSG this year. Now that we have our executive officers and cabinet members here, we will be working on producing tangible results for you. This brings me to my final point of this column. Our new administration is excited to serve you. We are searching and strongly encouraging all students who have this same desire to join our team. DSG is only as strong and as powerful as our members. If you want to get involved, I strongly encourage you to run for office. Election packets can be found in the DSG office or online at http://www.duke.edu/~wf5/LegislatorPacket2002. They are due Wednesday, Sept. 4 by 5 p.m. Elections will take place Tuesday Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In conclusion, I anticipate a productive and enjoyable year. I am happy to see everyone back and hope you share my aspirations for this year. The DSG office is now open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please stop by if we can be of service to you. Take care of yourself and have a great semester.

Joshua Jean-Baptiste is a Trinity senior and president of Duke Student Government.

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