Students voting in the Fall 2009 Duke Student Government Senate elections next Monday will also be electing a student to a new position-special secretary to the Young Trustee.
Only two juniors, both with ties to DSG or the Intercommunity Council, are running for the position. Junior Amanda Turner, president of the Black Student Alliance, is a current member of the ICC, and junior Ben Getson is a former DSG senator. Getson resigned his senate position at DSG's first meeting Aug. 26 so that he could pursue the independent position. Turner would have to resign her position on ICC if she is elected.
The special secretary is charged with reforming the Young Trustee selection process-currently handled jointly by ICC and DSG-to make it more transparent. The position will be independent from DSG and ICC.
But some members of ICC became concerned Thursday that the position was not being advertised to the whole student body, said DSG President Awa Nur, a senior.
Senior Ade Sawyer, DSG public relations director and a former Chronicle columnist, said he believes the information was widely available to anyone interested, adding that "the nature of the position" will attract people like those in ICC and DSG who are already involved in the process and the University.
"I don't think there was any expectation on our part for the 'Average Joe' to take on the position," he said. "Now, it is an elected position, so in theory, anyone who is elected can do it, so anyone who is interested can come forward and do it, and given the interest population, we thought we hit all the proper channels."
DSG executive vice president Gregory Morrison, a junior, said information about the job and the application for the position have been available on DSG's Web site since the position was created. It was also covered by The Chronicle in its orientation week issue Aug. 17, he said. Reference to the position appeared in the article's continuation on page nine.
The student body did not receive an e-mail mentioning the position. Morrison said the position was supposed to be included in the Thursday DSG blast e-mail, but because of a "miscommunication," it was only included in a Friday DSG e-mail to freshmen.
In response to concerns about how the position was being publicized, Sawyer sent an e-mail to ICC and campus organization leaders at 5:36 p.m Thursday advertising the position. He asked recipients to forward the message to their listservs, adding, "A few people had trouble finding the link on the DSG Web site for the Position of Special Secretary for the Young Trustee Process."
The candidate meeting was Saturday. Applications for the post, which required collecting 100 signatures of support, were due Sunday.
Upon election, the special secretary is required to hold at least four public forums about the Young Trustee selection process to include students and administrators in the reform. When the Special Secretary has completed a report with recommendations to change the Young Trustee selection process, the secretary must present the report to the DSG Senate by Nov. 4, after which the position will end.
Morrison said because of the nature of the position, he was not surprised that only two people applied.
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"There's no perks of office, there's not a lot of prestige of office, it's going to be a lot of work in a small amount of time, so it does take a certain kind of student to do that and we're not overflowing with those, there aren't hundreds of those," Morrison said.
Turner said Sawyer's e-mail last Thursday sparked her decision to run, and added that publicity of the position to the student body would have depended on how quickly and thoroughly group leaders forwarded the information. Although she said organization presidents received a general e-mail about DSG positions Tuesday, the Thursday e-mail was the first that specifically advertised for the new position.
Senior Adam Hinnant, an ICC member who is executive vice president of Duke University Union and chair of the Honor Council, said the only people he know who were aware of the position were those who heard about it through ICC.
"I believe that there should have been more publicity, at least in e-mails," he said.
Still, Morrison defended DSG's decision not to post fliers or otherwise directly advertise the position on campus to people outside ICC or DSG.
"When you start talking about e-mailing 26 major organization heads, when you talk about the filtering down from that level, I think that any student who is interested in taking on this position is aware of it by now... and with plenty of time to get the 100 signatures," he said.