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Duke researchers present findings on campus culture to DSG

Duke Student Government held its first faculty-student town hall meeting Wednesday to encourage collaboration on campus issues.

Two faculty members presented results from recent surveys about students’ habits at Duke. Noah Pickus, head of the Academic Integrity Council and Nannerl O. Keohane director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, shared research conducted by the Academic Integrity Council about integrity in undergraduate life. Steven Asher, professor of psychology and neuroscience, presented his findings from the Duke Social Relationships Project.

Faculty and DSG members shared opinions and thoughts about these issues during the forum that senior Kaveh Danesh, DSG vice president for academic affairs, organized.

“I envisioned this as a tradition during which students and faculty can get a sense for what the other party thinks concerning campus issues and cultures,” Danesh said in an interview.

Pickus first addressed issues of integrity at Duke, noting discrepancies between students’ perceptions and the realities of campus integrity. The actual number of students who reported engaging in dishonest behavior was significantly lower than the number that students estimated participate in such behaviors.

“We need to publicize results to make it clear that ethical behavior is in fact the norm,” Pickus said. Integrity goes beyond the classroom and applies to social, civic and work situations, he said.

Students and faculty are not all compartmentalized, and integrity in academic life relates to integrity in daily life.

The study found that students who are engaged with their academics and have genuine relationships report to be the least lonely. Statistics also showed that although higher alcohol use correlated with more social interaction, it also corresponded to students with lower academic engagement.

“If you love your work, why would you want to get wasted the night before?” Asher said. Danesh said he chose these two studies because he had worked with both faculty members, and there are parallels between the two reports.

“There was an opportunity for some sharing of perspectives,” he said. “The broader hope is that this becomes a venue for all students and all faculty and that we continue to build on what we did today.”

In other business:

The Senate voted to change the Student Organization and Finance Committee auditing bylaw. DSG also approved an amendment to the SOFC bylaw that allows religious groups to apply for exemption from the requirement of democratically elected officers.

Some religious groups said they have felt forced into a competitive democratic process that conflicts with their religious values, said senior Shane Hunt, DSG director for religious outreach and affairs.

“Religious groups pride themselves in their consensus-based leadership structure,” Hunt said. “It’s a group effort to lead a group organization.”


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