Later this week, undergraduates will cast votes for the newly-restructured Duke Student Government.
At noon Thursday, students will be able to choose from among 49 candidates for positions that range from DSG vice presidents and senators to council presidents and class vice presidents. Due to a February amendment, students have to vote for fewer positions after DSG consolidated the number of senate committees from seven to five. One candidate will be elected to each DSG vice president position, while two candidates from each class will be elected to each senate committee. As in previous years, students will vote through an online form which will be linked to them via email.
“Hopefully, everything will run smoothly, but as often happens with these things, sometimes something will come up out of the blue and we just have to be ready to deal with whatever may arise,” said Attorney General Sabriyya Pate, a sophomore.
The revamped senate structure now consists of five committees—equity and outreach, Durham and regional affairs, services and sustainability, academic affairs and campus life.The campus life committee takes the place of the prior residential life and social culture committees as well as as functions of the prior facilities, environment and arts committee. The new services and sustainability committee replaces the services committee, also taking some of the roles of the prior facilities, environment and arts committee.
“In terms of how the elections are carried out, it'll actually make things a little easier,” Pate said. “Going from seven to five means that we have two less committees to run the elections for, which means less chance of error and less contentious races.”
Three vice presidential candidates are running unopposed—sophomore Sean Bissell for academic affairs, junior Liz Brown for Durham and regional affairs and junior Elizabeth Barahona for equity and outreach.
Sophomore Monika Dharia is running against sophomore Kristina Smith to be vice president for services and sustainability. The race for vice president of campus life involves three students—sophomore Grant Besner, junior Lizzie Speed and first-year Mycroft Zimmerman.
Class council races for rising juniors and seniors are both uncontested. Meanwhile, six first-years are running for sophomore class president, while two others are running for class vice president.
Pate noted that students will not be required to rank all the candidates as they were in the recent DSG presidential election. In March, the DSG Judiciary ruled the previous voting procedures, in which students were required to rank each candidate, unconstitutional. All future DSG elections will proceed via the newly-implemented rules.
Recently, DSG's voter turnout has decreased, especially for the presidential election. But 29 percent of undergraduates voted in the March presidential election, compared to 36 percent in 2016 and 58 percent in 2014. Last year, fewer students—32 percent—voted in the class council and DSG committee elections than in the presidential race.
For the upcoming election, Pate said she expects voter turnout to be similar to that of the recent presidential election. Pate noted that some of this year's races were "polarizing," which leads her to believe that turnout will be comparable to that from this year's presidential election.
“It's very hard to tell the voter turnout because it's very strongly correlated with the kinds of campaigns that the candidates run,” said Pate, who is also a columnist for The Chronicle.
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Candidates receive DSG funding for the campaign, but may not use outside funds for advertising in accordance with the DSG Election Rules and Procedures. Class presidents, class vice presidents and senate candidates receive $25, while DSG vice presidents receive $50.
“No matter the different experiences you have from coming from various student groups, you do have something to contribute and you don't have to be an institutional player to get elected,” Pate said.
Here is the list of the candidates:
Senior class president: Patricia Pinckombe
Senior class vice president: Sean Gilbert
Junior class president: Omar Khan
Junior class vice president: Amulya Vadapalli
Sophomore class president: Ibrahim Butt, Brandon Dawson, Lúcia Mees, Yusef Sabra, Lucas Tishler and Tom Wanty
Sophomore class vice president: Nathan Lewis, Kevin Solomon
Vice president for academic affairs: Sophomore Sean Bissell
Senior senator for academic affairs: Kevin Mutchnick
Junior senator for academic affairs: Yemi Kolawole
Sophomore senator for academic affairs: Shreya Bhatia, Saheel Chodavadia, Manish Kumar, Kedest Mathewos, Joel Mire
Vice president of campus life: First-year Mycroft Zimmerman, sophomore Grant Besner, junior Lizzie Speed
Senior senator for campus life: Sean Gilbert
Junior senator for campus life: Noah Eckberg
Sophomore senator for campus life: Divya Juneja, Sanya Kochhar
Vice president for Durham and regional affairs: Junior Liz Brown
Junior senator for Durham and regional affairs: Brian Buhr
Sophomore senator for Durham and regional affairs: Matthew Gayed, Uwa Ihionkhan, Quinci King and Akanksha Ray
Vice president for equity and outreach: Junior Elizabeth Barahona
Sophomore senator for equity and outreach: Maryam Asenuga, Maram Elnagheeb, Ake Kankirawatana, Tyler Kopp, Ivan Robles and Niisoja Torto
Vice president for services and sustainability: Sophomores Monika Dharia and Kristina Smith
Junior senator for services and sustainability: Luke Longo
Sophomore senator for services and sustainability: Pranav Ganapathy, Jacob Hoberg, Rasheca Logendran, Liv McKinney, Divya Nimmagadda and Michael Ong