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DSG residential life and dining candidates

The eleven candidates for residential life and dining branch of the DSG senate are Zoe Bulger, Andrew Franklin, Momin Ghaffar, Matt Grossman, Amanda Ho, Emily Kuo, Etka Kurucan, Bernadette Leblond, Meaghan Li, Phoebe Long and Margaret Perry. The voting process will take place on Monday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. via a link that will be sent to each students’ Duke email account. The Chronicle’s Jack Mercola spoke with nine candidates about their campaigns. Li and Perry failed to respond.

The Chronicle: What is your platform?

Zoe Bulger: I think that West Campus would benefit from having a more all-you-can-eat, sit-down dining option—there is already such a friendly community vibe at Duke.... On the residential side of things... where I would see focusing my energy is on the new housing system beginning in Fall 2012. I love how Duke allows graduating classes to live together in cohesive units.

Andrew Franklin: It’s important that there are vegetarian options.... The meal plan deserves serious attention and reform. I think a meal should equal a meal—when students skip breakfast they should be allowed a full lunch as compensation, not just a $4 credit.... And I want to ensure that [unaffiliated] students are comfortable in the places that they’re assigned. I want to makes sure that there are adequate procedures in place so that the houses form strong communities and so that those smaller communities interact with each other.

Momin Ghaffar: Maximizing dining area space with a Harry Potter-style long table seating configuration would be one of my pushes. Facilitating traffic in the serving area is another.... We also most definitely need more trash cans/recycle bins around. They seem to never be there when I need them! I'd also like to, with the help of individual House Councils, set up sports watch parties.

Matt Grossman: For residential life, I want to organize as many events as possible, be they by house, or quad, or the whole campus. I want to take advantage of every opportunity to involve everyone in having fun. For dining, I am very concerned about our meal plans and the limited choices in the Marketplace. I have done research about other food options including other restaurants to bring to campus, and I would like to pursue those to ensure that everyone is able to eat what they want when they want it.

Amanda Ho: The main goal is to make the meal swipes more interchangeable. I would like to change [the swipe system] so a breakfast swipe can be used for a dinner/brunch swipe as well. A meal is a meal!

Emily Kuo: I think having some sort of list or easy manual [of Marketplace rules] would be really beneficial in getting our money’s worth.... I think we need to fix the dish washing system so that we can return to a more environmentally friendly procedure. The next things we need are more options—vegetarian options and total options as well.... I think it’s important to get student input [for the housing model]. We need to get what we really want, not just what the faculty thinks is best for us. The last thing is community.

Etka Kurucan: Every freshman that I have met thus far has complained about the same issue about the Marketplace: that we don’t have a flexible dining plan.... This issue will be my main focus if elected for Senator. Furthermore, we definitely need more variety in the Marketplace, especially for vegetarians or those on a gluten-free diet.... Moreover, I will actively work with the house councils of each dorm to organize more events that will foster stronger communities within each dorm and the whole class alike.

Bernadette Leblond: I have solutions to the problems that we all have. The issues that we all have are the food plan, which is not flexible enough,  the lack of input from students to get more diverse types of foods, the fact that we have to wait in and really long lines to get in at peak hours. There’s also no recycling in the marketplace. They don’t have events to unite freshman students to build the Duke spirit that we want are already a part of.

Phoebe Long: I think that the meal swipe system we have now is flawed, and if elected I would work on improving it. I know that the Duke housing model is changing a lot next year, and I'd like to be involved in making it the best it possibly can be. Also, I would work on putting more trash cans around campus.

TC: What do you want the Duke student body to know about you?

ZB: If I could eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Whole wheat bread. 

AF: I’m related to Benjamin Franklin; governing is in my blood. I spent a year working in the House of Representatives and some time in a Senate office, so no one knows demagoguery and gridlock like I do.

MG: I'm from Texas. We do everything big. I want to continue that here at Duke. And yes, I'm a huge Dallas Mavericks fan.

MG: I love to travel. I’ve been all over the country and all over the world. My favorite place has been Switzerland, although nothing can compare to swimming in the Great Barrier Reef. I also am a history buff and I love old movies.

AH: I'm a really passionate about things I care about—especially food!... I see a need for reform and since housing and dining are so pertinent to us- the student body—I will do everything in my power to make positive changes.

EK: I’m not afraid to do outrageous stunts in order to grab people’s attention. I dressed up in a whoopee cushion for a month in order to campaign. I laundered it, obviously. I think it’s really important to keep school fun while also maintaining a good community to live in. I want to keep the environment fun and friendly. People like to smile.

EK: Our school actually lacked a student government because it was a relatively new high school.... Students did not have a voice in our school and lacked school spirit. I proposed to initiate a Student Government to the principal and got approval.

BL: I’m French.French people know food. Keep it simple keep it good.... I want for there to be a space where students and give their opinions and say that they want a certain food or a certain event because this is our Duke experience we’re talking about and we students are the ones to decide.

PL: In high school I was president of the National Honor Society and the judiciary board. I'm a very enthusiastic person, and because of that I take an active role in whatever I'm involved in. I'm really approachable and therefore would listen well to the different voices of the freshman class.

TC: Why do you want this position?

ZB: Not because I’m passionate about politics, but because I’m passionate about the undergraduate experience.

AF: Now that we’re here—Duke—the name means more. It’s our home. I’m running because I care about how Duke students define Duke and what it means to them.

MG: If elected, I'll see to it that residential life and dining improves tremendously and becomes a sense of pride... like our awesome Blue Devil sports teams. 

MG: I was born and raised a Duke fan and spent a lot of time on campus. I love everything from the history, to the buildings, to the people. I want to share my significant my significant past experiences in student government with my new Duke family and help make sure that these are the best four years of our lives.

AH: Housing and dining truly affect our daily life. I want to be part of the process that helps improve our lives here at Duke. There is always room for change, and I would like to be a part of that.

EK: The administration is trying to enact some very significant changes, so I think that I could be the voice to have this conversation with the first-years and the rest of the senate, as well as the faculty.

EK: I want this position because I’m passionate about representing my class. My platform is not quixotic; on the contrary, it is very practical. Furthermore, it is supported by a majority of the freshman class.

BL: I’m frustrated with the fact that we can’t seem to change things because there is no student yet in this position.... I’m people person. I can be in a lot of different groups and get the variety of what Duke wants.... How you eat and how you sleep is the place to start.

PL: I love Duke so I want to a part of anything that can make the school a little bit better. I love being involved in the community and I think that DSG is a great way to do that.


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