Junior Awa Nur stresses three points in her campaign for the Duke Student Government presidency: fiscal responsibility and efficiency, transparency and realism.
"I know what's complicated and what's simple," said Nur, who currently serves as DSG's chief of staff. "You have to think about what DSG can accomplish in one year."
With the economic downturn, the University needs to take into account the inevitable increase in students applying for financial aid, Nur said.
"We need to make [the application process] as simple as possible, so that the kids who need it are getting the support they need," she said, adding that she also wants to offer more help with paying for summer terms to students on financial aid.
DSG itself needs to do more to reach out to the student body, Nur said.
"We have a lot of transparency initiatives that look good on paper but don't actually do anything," she noted. "We have Senate office hours that nobody goes to, and we publish a newsletter that nobody reads-that doesn't make sense."
Nur proposed that instead of holding office hours, student groups should be able to request senators to speak at their meetings.
"That way, we communicate with students in their natural habitat," she said. "They'll be more likely to express their concerns and be more open to discussion that way. At the end of the day, they don't necessarily need us, but we need them, so we need to make sure we're reaching out to all student groups on campus."
Through her involvement with other campus groups, such as the Black Student Alliance, Nur said she understands the funding problems that student groups face because many groups rush to have elections in order to submit a budget for the following year.
Nur said she believes that her wide variety of experiences on campus gives her the perspective that a DSG president needs.
"From the start I was impressed by her desire to make the most of the Duke opportunity, as well as by her poise in relating to people of all kinds-not only her peers but also faculty and administrators," said Judith Ruderman, vice provost for academic and administrative services. Ruderman served as Nur's pre-major adviser.
As a sophomore, Nur was elected by students and administrators to help develop the Quality Enhancement Plan, a self-study required for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
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"I'll be the only student next year to have served on that committee, and I think it's important to be able to speak about that when it comes into effect," she said.
Nur is the only DSG presidential candidate who has studied abroad. She believes the Office of Study Abroad should take on a more active advising role.
"Since study abroad right now is only by word of mouth, you get the same people studying abroad every year," she said. "The office needs to be a conduit to new opportunities, not someone you talk to after you've already applied."
Nur, a Baldwin Scholar, also considers gender issues a high priority. She said she hopes to strengthen ties between the Baldwin Scholars program, the Women's Mentoring Network and the Women's Center, adding that the Women's Center should serve as an umbrella group to collaborate with leaders from all different groups.
A three-year member of Dukes and Duchesses, Nur said she has worked extensively with both high-level administrators and underprivileged students.
"You present to two very different groups, but my message to both is the same-that Duke is an amazing place," Nur said. "It's one of the highlights of my life because I'm actually passionate about this school. I love it, and it's a great place for student collaboration."
Dukes and Duchesses President Katie Unverferth, a junior, said she believes Nur has the ability to lead DSG.
"Awa has always been extremely dependable and a joy to be around," Unverferth said. "She's been an asset to my organization and I believe she would do a great job as DSG president."