Advocating for others is central to junior Riyanka Ganguly's campaign for Duke Student Government president.
Ganguly, who is currently the vice president for equity and outreach, has worked on projects centered around helping marginalized groups during her time in DSG. She noted that her past experiences in DSG have prepared her to take on the role of president.
"I believe that it will come down to experience," Ganguly said. "I am the person who’s shown very large-scale projects that have been very successful... even though I’ve worked with a lot of student groups, I was the one spearheading."
Last year, she initiated the Peer Advocacy for Sexual Health Center, along with a program to supply free menstrual products in the Bryan Center. She also worked with Mi Gente to make the policy on admissions and aid for undocumented immigrants more transparent.
Although Ganguly has faced both criticism and praise for PASH, which opened its doors in November, she noted that overall she is happy with the response from students.
"I put in so much work with that—I wrote a 28-page independent study proposal, I wrote a curriculum for a house course, I recruited people, I negotiated with the administration," she said. "The amount of hours that have been put into that, and to see the amazing student response that we’ve had [was one of the high points of being in DSG]."
Ganguly also explained that she views the role of president as that of an activist.
"We are heading towards a time nationally where a lot of students are, in my opinion, very rightfully fearful, for what is about to come in the next four years, or really the next year as a crucial year of change," Ganguly said. "And already we’re seeing so many things that do affect people outside of the private institution walls of Duke."
She noted that she wants to make advocating for students, especially those of marginalized identities, a priority for the DSG president going forward.
Because Vincent Price—current provost at the University of Pennsylvania—will be succeeding President Richard Brodhead at the end of this year, Ganguly noted that she believes the new DSG president will have a role in influencing Price's thinking.
"President Price is coming, and he will be looking toward student leaders to shape how he prioritizes his initiatives, and my personality is that I’m a person who takes strong stances, especially for what I believe in, and especially if it’s for someone else," Ganguly said. "For me a lot of times, it’s not about personal opinion but about advocating for people."
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.