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Central to add four new SLGs

New groups with space on Central hope to attract rushees this Spring.

Four new selective living groups’ requests for residential sections were approved by the administration over Winter Break. The Nexus, InCube, JAM! and an unnamed group focusing on research were given space on Central Campus, though the locations of their sections have yet to be determined, said Joe Gonzalez, associate dean for residence life. He added that deliberations with the groups will begin this week.

“We’re definitely hopeful that these groups will add to the flavor of Central,” Gonzalez said. “I think that these groups are very unique in their focus, [and] I really think it adds some greater options to students in general.”

Each of the groups is focused on a specific interest or theme, Gonzalez noted.

The Nexus defines itself as a discussion society whose goal is to allow members to talk about their “big ideas,” said sophomore Elena Botella, one of the Nexus’ eight founding members and its interim executive chair. InCube’s focus is entrepreneurship and will work to aid the University’s goal of becoming a leading entrepreneurial institution, said junior Sidney Primas, a founding member of the group.

JAM!’s mission is to bring fitness, wellness and athleticism “back to the forefront of the Duke community’s mind in a way that is enjoyable and conducive to the busy Duke lifestyle,” sophomore Elizabeth Clark, one of JAM!’s founders, wrote in an e-mail Monday.

The last group is yet to be named but will is intended for students interested or involved in research, founding member Jason Klein, also wrote in an e-mail Monday.

The approval of the new groups’ residential sections is evidence of a strong student interest in the residential experience, said Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta.

“I think [Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Steve] Nowicki and I have been pretty publicly expressive of our desire to expand student opportunity and to see [students] leverage their residential experience in terms of intellectual and co-curricular interest. [These groups] are going to continue the diversification of residential living and the dynamism of the student interest and identity.”

Nowicki said that the administration will not be adding any more selective residential space on West Campus.

“We’re incentivizing groups to consider Central [because] there are more opportunities for expansion,” he said. “What we get is students who really want to be out on Central who are adding even more life and activity.”

He also noted that it will be interesting to see how these new groups affect the transition to the house model and said the administration does not intend to add more “selectivity” to the residential experience.

“You can be assured that Larry [Moneta], Joe [Gonzalez] and I would keep an eye out if the social selective thing was getting out of hand [and] was reducing the ability of students to be unaffiliated,” Nowicki said.

Moneta added that it is his intention to reduce the prevalence of private membership in these groups during the transition to the house model.

“We will be very cautious about limiting the number of groups that are private-membership groups,” he said. “We will continue to work with [groups] so that their ability for limiting access is in some ways mitigated.”

Gonzalez also said it is anticipated that all current SLGs will have space in the new house model, and it is possible that selective groups will become their own house.

“I do believe at some point there is a tipping point where we have too many SLGs,” he said. “I don’t think we’re there yet, [but] under the house model, we’ll have to see to what extent students see the need for new SLGs or whether the new houses fill any void the students may have perceived.”

The decision to grant the groups residential space followed a recommendation from the student-led Approval Removal Committee, which heard presentations from the groups Dec. 10, Gonzalez said. The ARC is part of the newly instituted Collaborative Housing Process and is responsible for making recommendations concerning granting housing privileges. The ARC is also responsible for reviewing the Residential Group Assessment scores of groups in order to recommend if a group should be placed on probation.

The recommendation to extend housing to these four new groups is one of the first major actions of the ARC since its inception in Spring 2010, said ARC Co-chair Priya Bhat, a senior.

“These groups all brought something very different or something that was lacking in the [Duke] community,” Bhat said. “I think those different elements that it was seeking to promote will really benefit the housing community.”

Nowicki commended the ARC and the process and said it is important for students to have input in the decisions that will ultimately affect them.

“[For the ARC] to take the lead was the right thing to do,” he said. “I think we went into it with a real sense of dialogue on the whole concept of the ARC and how it would be involved—we were all on the same page. This is a real win for student governance.”

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