After four years of constant DSG, I have finally come to the conclusion that each of you has understood since the end of O-week: DSG is completely powerless. In the last couple of weeks, two high level administrators independently told me that DSG does not speak for the student body because DSG is not representative of the student body. We are stuck in a Catch 22: administrators do not give DSG authority because we are irrelevant to the everyday undergraduate student, and we are irrelevant to the everyday undergraduate student because administrators do not give DSG authority.
Every single administrator does care and does enjoy engaging with students; however, when administrators and faculty leaders are making decisions about the governing policies or direction of the University, students do not have any discernible authority. For example, the Strategic Plan does not have any undergraduate voting members and neither does the Curriculum Committee. Furthermore, the policy changes in the Community Standard have incessantly been made with large student concerns absent.
While we have worked tirelessly this year to bring students DevilsGate, the New York Times and the Living Learning Community, DSG is still irrelevant to the everyday student. Last week’s article was just the latest evidence of DSG focusing on programming and events that fill Duke, rather than the decisions students actually care about: decisions that form the institution, such as bringing events back onto campus, whether or not to enact rules on hate speech, or making revisions to the housing model.
Increased social media usage, town halls, student surveys, and improvements to DSG structure have attempted to break the cycle by better connecting DSG to students; however, these efforts are nothing new and have not been successful.
Students need to take the first simple step of blind faith by taking the thirty seconds to vote and give the next DSG a mandate to pursue the most ambitious student desires. Give credence to pass/fail classes, chapter houses or reforming the disciplinary system. Vote as if DSG president has the authority of the student body, and they may actually have it.
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