YT candidates have ties to DSG, ICC

The semifinalists are, from top to bottom and left to right, Adam Nathan, Zach Perret, Chelsea Goldstein, Ben Getson, John Harpham, Meg Foran and Alexis Rosenblum.
The semifinalists are, from top to bottom and left to right, Adam Nathan, Zach Perret, Chelsea Goldstein, Ben Getson, John Harpham, Meg Foran and Alexis Rosenblum.

The new Young Trustee selection process has yielded its first crop of semifinalists.

Six of the seven semifinalists have ties to Duke Student Government or the former Inter-Community Council, now known as the Council for Collaborative Action, and four are leaders of student organizations. The Young Trustee Nominating Committee will interview semifinalists today and release a list of three finalists Thursday night.

Special Secretary for the Young Trustee process Amanda Turner, a junior, said the list of semifinalists to hold a spot on the Board of Trustees did not surprise her.

“I guess that’s kind of indicative of the process and how it’s a similar issue that was brought up before, that only people who know about the process care enough to run,” said Turner, who is also president of the Black Student Alliance. “Hopefully, the general election may encourage more people beyond the DSG and ICC circles [to run].”

At least 12 on the nominating committee are current members of DSG or ICC, and most of the at-large members disclosed some connection to semifinalists.

Still, members of the selection committee said they are working to limit the potential for conflict of interest.

“I’m not evaluating them on, ‘Do I like them?’” said DSG Executive Vice President Gregory Morrison, a junior. “I’m evaluating them on, ‘Can they do a job? Will they be good for Duke?’”

To minimize bias in selecting semifinalists, all identifying information was supposed to be removed from individuals’ applications by a non-voting chair. Students submitted applications to Morrison before a chair could be elected, leaving him to redact the applications and exposing him to the identities of all the applicants.

YTNC Chair Lauren Moxley, a sophomore, said that although the situation was not ideal, Morrison did not voice any partiality in discussions.

“It was unfortunate that that had to happen this time, but we will make sure that doesn’t happen in the future,” she said.

Turner said she was pleased to see three women on the list of semifinalists, but said the lack of racial diversity was an issue.

“It’s disappointing, but as someone who worked on this last year, you have to reach out to them,” Turner said. “It’s not an apathy about the position, but you need to make the position more relevant to people.”

Although Morrison said the lack of non-white semifinalists is unfortunate, he noted that “the seven semifinalists represent a really diverse set of Duke experiences.”

The pool of semifinalists is one short of the eight semifinalists called for in the bylaws governing the process. Moxley said the committee could not agree on a final applicant qualified enough to be a semifinalist. She added that members felt it would be unfair to approve a candidate who would not be able to garner enough support from the nominating committee to be a finalist.

Senior Will Patrick, president of his class in Engineering Student Government, was among the rejected applicants and said he thought it was strange the committee could not agree on an eighth semifinalist.

“Maybe one thing you could say is that there’s no candidate for the Board that has sort of been off the beaten path at Duke,” Patrick said. “Having people from slightly different backgrounds during the interview process may have been a nice thing for them to have.”

DSG President Awa Nur, a senior, said the preponderance of traditional candidates reflects the perceived insider nature of the application and selection process. She cited insufficient advertising and the rigorous application as factors discouraging unconventional candidates.

“I think the committee picked the seven most qualified people as they saw fit,” Nur said. “ I think it’ll get harder from here on out, they have a good pool of applicants.”

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