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Don't be safe

In any given Duke Student Government race, there are certain types of qualified individuals. There are outsiders who feel DSG needs reform, insiders who feel they have more experience and leaders in other groups who are ready to switch gears. Each presidential candidate this year has a comprehensive platform and an understanding of major issues on campus. Therefore, the race comes down to examining the actual people by looking at their past work, inspecting how they interact with administrators (if they do) and investigating their true intentions in running.

This year's race for president of DSG may be a defining one for the organization and Duke. Then again, it could be another debacle or simply full of résumé-builders. There are three candidates who hardly deserve serious consideration: Felix Li, Thomas Storrs and Hasnain Zaidi. Li is one of those aforementioned résumé-builders, and entirely too focused on race and gender relations. Li is quick to point out that he is an alternative to the great white hope of the current DSG executive board (except for half of Brandon Goodwin), but that alone is not reason enough to vote for him.

Thomas Storrs just seems angry about having to pay so much money to Duke in the form of tuition, parking tickets and meal plans. The economics major might know what he's talking about in that category, but he has little past experience working with administrators and it's possible he might actually accomplish less than Jesse Longoria.

Zaidi has put a lot into this race, but he's a bonafide student government junkie, as you can tell from his catchy campaign phrase, A.C.C.E.S.S. Zaidi currently serves as Class of 2008 president in Campus Council and was Jarvis house council president and East Campus Council treasurer last year (phew). If elected, Zaidi would frequently defer to Campus Council, making DSG even more impotent than it already is.

I'm left with Remington Kendall and Elliott Wolf. A few weeks ago, I hardly knew who Kendall was-mainly because he was abroad last semester and only recently rejoined DSG after his hiatus. Kendall is everything required of a good candidate in any race: well-spoken and good-looking (even if his hair is a little wild); he also works well with others. Kendall has more experience in DSG than all the other candidates combined-but this is not necessarily a good thing.

Longoria thinks Kendall would make a good candidate, and Kendall told me in an e-mail, "If DSG elected the president, I believe I would overwhelmingly win." Now, Kendall seems to view this as a good thing, saying, "This is a sign of the respect I have from my peers." But when I read that, a red flag went up in my mind. I've only observed DSG for one year, but I know that this year's group hasn't done, well, anything. If a bunch of kids who sit around and look important think Kendall would be good at sitting around and looking important, it's a bad sign.

Wolf is completely different from the other candidates. I don't need to reiterate what he's already done on campus-which just goes to show how effective he is without the aid of any organization. While he is "an outsider who thinks DSG needs reform," Wolf is not just making a call for change. I can easily question the motives of every other candidate for every other DSG executive position, but in Wolf I see someone who really does want to change Duke and help students-and he's not just saying it to get a title that can pad his résumé. His sincerity is his most refreshing and desirable quality and separates him from all other candidates.

Wolf has also shown he will actually do things while others just talk about them, as evidenced with his course evaluations website. He also talks to top-level administrators on a regular basis and has relationships with them much different from the typical, overly deferential ones that other students maintain. My only reservation is that some administrators view Wolf as a little too adversarial-but since when has anyone been concerned that DSG is too hard on the administration?

Kendall is my top choice out of all those in the traditional mold of DSG presidential candidates. So if you want somebody who will talk a great game, smile for the cameras and basically be another Jesse Longoria, vote for Remington Kendall-or Thomas Storrs, Felix Li or Hasnain Zaidi, for that matter. Any of these would be safe choice. But if you truly want a change in DSG, want someone who won't give up tailgate without a fight, want someone who will take action instead of writing resolutions, want your rights protected and want your desires conveyed to the most powerful people on campus, vote for Elliott Wolf.

Students have a decision to make this year. You as a voter have a choice. You can make the safe choice, or you can make a statement that you are done with the days of résumé-builders, lip service and seniors who have moved on from Duke before they even set foot on campus for the fall semester. You can vote for the status quo, or you can vote for Elliott Wolf.

Elizabeth Rudisill is a Trinity sophomore. This column is the second in a two-part series in anticipation of today's DSG elections. Author's note: To clarify, junior Jimmy Soni, candidate for vice president of academic affairs, has plans to deactivate his current chairmanships if elected.


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