I was surprised to read today's article on Vice President and University Secretary Richard Riddell's guidance for the Young Trustee candidates.
I understand Vice President Riddell’s point that the Young Trustee’s role is different from that of DSG president. It is. But that does not mean we should wring the Young Trustee campaign of all forward-looking substance.
If undergraduate representation on the Board of Trustees serves a purpose beyond patronizing window-dressing—and it should—then the Young Trustee candidates must be able to differentiate themselves based on their visions for the university. The victor will have some say on issues that directly affect the lives of those voting for them, from tuition hikes to campus safety. It’s worth knowing how he or she will approach those discussions before votes are cast.
Sure, the candidates’ campaign platforms are likely to go unfulfilled; the Young-at-Heart Trustees don’t get everything they want, either. That does not distinguish this election from others. And Riddell should take comfort in the fact that, in a vigorous Young Trustee campaign, debate over who has the most accurate understanding of the role—and the most promising strategy for thriving within it—will be central.
I get it. The Young Trustee’s voice will be one of many. But it’s often the only one students feel like they have on a largely opaque board that touches so many aspects of their welfare.
Adam D. Chandler T’06 was an undergraduate representative to the Board of Trustees’ Student Affairs Committee from 2005 to 2006. He will speak on leadership at TEDxDuke later this month.
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