DSG exec gets mixed reviews

Duke Student Government senators issued mixed reviews to members of their Executive Board in a November survey evaluating leadership and efficacy within the organization.

The four vice presidents on the Board received an average overall score of 4.3 out of five on the survey, which was initiated and drafted by Executive Vice President Jordan Giordano, a junior. The average score was based on individual evaluations of each vice president by his or her respective committees.

"One of the things I really want to do is increase accountability and feedback," Giordano said. "With these surveys, it gives us the ability to assess what we're doing and improve."

All 40 senators ranked their respective vice presidents based on six categories: helpfulness in completing the senator's project, knowledge in the area, responsiveness, ability to lead, work done on his or her own projects and overall performance.

Categories for ranking DSG President Paul Slattery, a senior, and Giordano, a junior, were the same, but replaced "knowledge in the area" with "approachability." All surveys also consisted of a free-response section for comments.

The only individual reviews that have been publicly released, however, are those of Giordano, who conducted the surveys, and junior Sunny Kantha, vice president for athletics and campus services. Giordano received an overall average score of 4.5, and Kantha received a rating of 4.7 out of five from the seven members of his committee.

Giordano noted that it was ultimately up to each Board member to make his or her ratings public.

Slattery, Vice President for Academic Affairs Gina Ireland, Vice President for Community Interaction Genevieve Cody and Vice President for Student Affairs Lucy McKinstry did not follow suit and called into question the validity of their ratings.

"Jordan didn't really tell us: one, that he was really doing a survey, or two, what kind of questions were going to be asked," said McKinstry, a sophomore.

Moreover, all four individuals said the survey was methodologically flawed because not all questions were pertinent to each position.

"I thought the survey design was somewhat idiotic in the sense that the same questions were asked about me as were asked about vice presidents," Slattery said. "Senators never have cause to ask me for help on their individual projects because they have designated vice presidents to do that."

Questions also failed to account for the differences among vice presidential roles, McKinstry said.

The athletics and campus services committee, which Kantha heads, produces "simple" and "tangible" effects, McKinstry said. Ireland, a senior, added that survey questions were more conducive to Kantha's committee than to others that produce more abstract policy changes.

Most vice presidents decided not to make their ratings public because they thought "there wasn't any reason to," though Kantha had pushed for their release, McKinstry said.

Slattery said releasing the senators' feedback would encourage divisive comparison among the vice presidents.

"The problem with this approach is that it's likely to generate division on [the Board] where cohesion is going to be much more helpful in policy advocacy on behalf of students," he said.

But Kantha said he decided to post his ratings in order to "differentiate" himself from the rest of the Board.

"My ratings were significantly higher than the general results," he said. "I feel like I've been putting a tremendous amount of work in and don't want to be clumped in with everyone else's results."

Kantha added that the ratings of the other vice presidents are "not terrible, but they're not good," and they affect the Board's overall image and ability to get things done.

"It all comes down to how much time are you willing to put into this-that's what I'm worried about for the other people," he said.


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