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Vote Kadakia for EVP

Tomorrow and Wednesday, Duke undergraduates will elect the next president and executive vice president of Duke Student Government.The newly-revised duties of the executive vice president will no longer include chairing the Senate, instead re-centering around external duties like executing policy agendas and connecting campus leaders to the administration. Today, the Editorial Board endorses current DSG Chief of Staff Kushal Kadakia for the role. In his interview with us and his broader campaign, Kadakia has demonstrated that he will serve as a thoughtful advocate for students from all walks of campus life. As one of the few unaffiliated students serving in the upper echelons of DSG, he brings a much-needed perspective on independent student experience to a Greek and SLG dominated system. Kadakia articulated a comprehensive plan for strengthening community in independent dorms to us, and was the only candidate this year to discuss how to level the playing field for unaffiliated students running in student government and Young Trustee races. In addition to appreciating his views on independent students, we were impressed by Kadakia’s willingness to honestly critique areas where DSG falls short, including the need to bring outside student voices to the table when undertaking projects and interacting with administration. Altogether, we believe his candidacy holds promise for moving DSG towards being more representative of the range of student interests and experiences.

In all the DSG president and executive vice president platforms, we commend candidates’ efforts to recognize diverse student needs and experiences, from proposals to create a more inclusive campus social culture for groups that are traditionally sidelined to starting conversations about socioeconomic inequality on campus. While more progress needs to be made and campaign promises are yet to be fulfilled, this is a heartening trend. Moving forward though, there are three broad improvements we would like to see among DSG candidates and their campaigns.

First, in keeping with platforms of years past, this year’s candidates made improved communication between DSG and the student body one of the core tenets of their platforms. While this is a worthy goal, we warn against using the vague mission of “better communication” as a substitute for having clear and coherent policies on known issues that affect the student body. Task forces, town halls, forums and talks are useful for unearthing new problems, but on known and pressing issues such as sexual assault and hate and bias, we do not need “communication.” We need effective leadership and meaningful change. Often, task forces and redundant dialogues divert attention from the problem and create the illusion of action, while allowing leaders to avoid taking clear stances on important issues. Listening is important, but it should be substantiated by a plan for action.

Second, we urge the creation of mechanisms to hold DSG candidates accountable for fulfilling their campaign promises after they have been elected. Too often, eagerly-touted policies and proposals are abandoned after elections, incentivizing candidates to make elaborate promises regardless of feasibility. DSG would do well to create an independent body tasked with monitoring promises.

Lastly, we encourage successfully elected candidates and current DSG leadership to be more forceful advocates and spokespeople for the student body. One of DSG’s most important functions is to serve as the liaison between students and administration. On issues like recent tuition hikes and declining affordability, DSG can be more proactive in relaying student concerns to administration. On other issues, like the failures of the IFC Task Force, DSG should play a larger role in holding affiliated student groups accountable for their wrongs.

To give voice to a broken record, we cautiously look forward to seeing a better and brighter DSG in the future.


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