Wolf, DSG Exec clash on town-gown relations

Days into its mandate, Duke Student Government is wracked by tension and infighting on the Executive Board about how to best handle tattered town-gown relations, DSG officials confirmed Wednesday.

Popularly elected officers Elliott Wolf, president, and Jordan Giordano, vice president for community interaction, have disagreed over defining DSG's role in community outreach--a rift complicated by the addition of a third, appointed party.

Senior Daniel Bowes, who lost to sophomore Giordano by fewer than 3 percentage points last spring, was appointed by Wolf, a junior, to serve as the lesser partner to Giordano on the Community Interaction Committee.

"Particularly now, interacting with Durham for DSG just isn't a one-person job anymore," said Chief of Staff Paul Slattery, a junior. "You can't ask one student to, say, do [Inter-Community Council] and be in Exec Board meetings while also cultivating links with the school board, city council and so on."

But late arrival Bowes' committee work seems to overshadow Giordano's to-date efforts.

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Bowes has long-standing ties with the community he honed, when, as a Chronicle columnist, he wrote mostly on Duke-Durham relations. His pieces were reprinted in area newspapers.

DSG officials said the creation of the Bowes' post allows Giordano to focus on ICC, while giving Bowes greater leeway to concentrate on community ties.

And Bowes bubbles with energy while describing his many projects, most of which center around promoting exchange between students and off-campus neighborhoods.

In a letter concerning DSG's outreach work submitted to Durham daily The Herald-Sun this summer, Giordano is listed third, behind Wolf and Bowes.

The culmination of the conflict came when Giordano walked out of an Executive Board meeting last week, DSG officials confirmed.

Both Giordano and Wolf said reconciliation had since been reached.

The seeds of the conflict were sown during the summer. Wolf and Bowes built up a strong bond working side-by-side, while Giordano--who was present for only the first summer session--appears an outsider to proceedings.

Bowes admitted he had had very little interaction with his own boss.

"That's very valid," he said Wednesday of allegations that his bond with Giordano was weak.

"I think he's as great as a guy can be, but that's just based on talking to him for an hour and a half," he added.

Wolf demurred, saying that the trio had grown close at the many meetings they attended together. He said he was confident his relationship with Giordano was healthy, despite allegations that he sapped power from the vice president.

"Let's say, we have a good working relationship where DSG is getting things done," Wolf said Monday of his ability to work with with Giordano. "I'm not trying to grab power from Jordan Giordano and my understanding of how he feels is that we've settled up."

Both Giordano and Wolf refused to specify the details of the meeting or what led to Giordano's abrupt exit.

"I feel like I represented the views of my committee and it was best to leave at that point," Giordano said.

Wolf said it was a matter of jurisdiction.

"It was a question as to which part or parts of DSG would respond to [the lacrosse case] and which parts would not," he said.

Slattery said he thought Giordano's gumption in leaving a government meeting spoke volumes about his commitment to the job.

"I was impressed that people were invested enough in their positions that Jordan would do what he did," Slattery said. "I can't imagine that in past administrations someone would have gone to those lengths."

ICC will approve DSG's plan for Duke-Durham relations under the terms of the new compromise.

Since assuming office, Wolf has placed a heavy emphasis on DSG's ability to respond to and interact with the community.

To signal a unified front, Giordano and Bowes gave a presentation on their community work at the DSG senate meeting Wednesday night.

Wolf said before the meeting he was interested to see what they would submit.

"This isn't about infighting," Wolf said. "We're trying to get things done. I honestly don't give a s- who does what as long as it gets done."


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