At its Wednesday meeting, the Duke Student Government Senate heard from Sam Miglarese—assistant vice president of Durham and regional affairs—about the state of the Duke-Durham partnership and voted on funding requests from Blue Devils United, basketball line monitors and the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

Miglarese said that when he originally joined the Duke community and surveyed its surroundings, he found that "Durham was dead.” At Wednesday’s DSG meeting, he updated the Senate on the development of the partnership between the University and local Durham residents.

“I really believe we have become the centerpiece of the resurgence of the Research Triangle,” Miglarese said.

The Duke-Durham Partnership serves as a way for the school and local community to cooperate on addressing certain issue. Duke's work for the partnership has included offering support for affordable housing. 

As director of the partnership, Miglarese said that when he began his tenure, the city of Durham was perceived as a “waste land." But more dialogue between the local community and the University in recent years has helped lead to tremendous changes across the city, he said. 

With advancements ranging from the expansion of the farmer’s market to population growth in the Latino community, the city has flourished. Miglarese said that growing job markets has meant more opportunities in Durham. But he added that his office is still dealing with challenges. 

The Durham and Regional Affairs office targets its work on dealing with fundamental community development issues—gentrification, education and Duke student engagement. Since 1996, affordable housing has been a consistent focus of the office. 

Although the city has worked with numerous affordable housing models in the past, there has not yet been a feasible plan to address equity issues for the entire community. But Miglarese said President Vincent Price could be a new guiding light on the issue.

Equipped with his experiences as provost at the University of Pennsylvania, President Price has said that addressing affordable housing in Durham is part of his agenda, Miglarese said. He added that Price’s past experiences empower him to continue the upward trajectory of the Duke-Durham partnership.

“President Price can use that knowledge base and community commitment in a way that will please all of us,” he said.

Miglarese also noted that Duke's Office of Durham and Regional Affairs plays a key role in expanding Duke’s presence in local education systems. The office engages on a regular basis with partners from 12 Durham neighborhoods and principals from nine partner schools. This “empowerment model” enables the office to understand the community partners' concerns in order to offer proper assistance. 

After attending PricePalooza, Miglarese said he was reminded of how closely melded East Campus is with downtown Durham. With all Duke first-years living on East Campus, students are exposed early on to the possibility of engaging with the local community. Miglarese noted that he was especially touched that Durham locals were welcomed to Wednesday night's celebration in honor of Price.

“Duke has always been committed to integrating the community,” Miglarese said.

In other business:

The Senate approved $39 in funding for a new line monitor jacket. The jackets, which are unique to line monitors, are needed to increase their visibility to students who are tenting. The line monitors have already received enough funding for 10 jackets from the Student Organization Financing Committee. But the line monitors want more jackets. 

The Senate also denied $300 of funding to Blue Devils United for tickets to the 2017 North Carolina State Fair, which will be held from Oct. 12 to 22 in Raleigh.

The Casino Royale Charity Ball, held by the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, had its budgetary request for $3,515 approved. This event will be a fundraiser, and its proceeds go to the March of Dimes foundation.

The Senate also unanimously voted to charter four new student groups: Immunology Club, She’s the First, Devil’s Cross Reality and Duke Tech Incubator.