More students have applied for undergraduate Young Trustee than in recent years following the first student body election of the position instituted last year.
Twenty students applied to be Young Trustee for the 2011 election cycle, up from 15 last year. In 2009, 14 students applied and 16 applied in both 2008 and 2007. Applications were due Jan. 9.
Junior Pete Schork, Duke Student Government executive vice president, attributed the rise in applicants to a strong senior class and the new election process. Previously, a nominating committee of students selected the Young Trustee, but DSG chose to add an student-wide election to the final selection of the Young Trustee last Fall.
“I think that people are more comfortable with the election process,” Schork said. “Any hesitation with last year could have subsided.”
Along with the addition of an open election to last year’s Young Trustee selection process, DSG also discussed the need for seniors to apply who are not necessarily affiliated with major campus organizations such as Campus Council, Duke University Union and DSG.
DSG President Mike Lefevre, a senior, is following suit with that observation by fulfilling his presidential campaign promise that he would not run for Young Trustee.
“Last year I made it clear that I wasn’t running for DSG president as a stepping stone for Young Trustee. I think my time this semester is better spent helping the student body [instead of] campaigning,” Lefevre said. “While it is an important way for students to give back, I don’t see Young Trustee as the holy grail of leadership.”
Young Trustee Nominating Committee Chair Christine Larson, a sophomore, said last year’s election results paved the way for this year’s crop of applicants to be composed of students unaffiliated with major groups on campus.
“[Current Young Trustee] John Harpham [Trinity, ’10] wasn’t exactly the big guy on campus,” Larson said. “It proved that just because you’re the DSG president does not mean you’re the Young Trustee.”
This year’s Young Trustee selection process follows a wave of new DSG bylaw changes.
The YTNC, which is composed of eight DSG senators and 10 at-large members, is now only responsible for narrowing down the applicant pool from 20 to three finalists, as opposed to last year when the committee was also responsible for running the election process. The DSG Board of Elections now has jurisdiction over the Young Trustee open election. The Board of Elections will establish campaign rules and run the election.
The YTNC will announce the three finalists for the position Jan. 29.
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Schork said this year’s bylaw changes are significant because he believes the Board of Elections is better suited for the open election process. He added that the Board of Elections will probably deliberate more during the election and will not ratify the election outcome as quickly as the YTNC had to last year.
“The nice thing is that there is a lot of discussion when we change [the selection process],” Larson said. “I hope that people continue to talk when we don’t change the bylaws.”