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Vote a woman for Young Trustee

Beginning tomorrow, students will cast their votes for the next Young Trustee. Among the official candidate pool are four, highly qualified Duke seniors: Amy Kramer, Bryce Cracknell, Liz Brown and Chinmay Pandit. Each of the four candidates represents a unique voice on this campus and will bring to the Board their own particular set of experiences if selected for the position. Consequently, the process of voting, much less endorsing, a candidate for such an important position is by no means a straightforward process or discussion. As a board of student opinion journalists coming from a wide swathe of on-campus experiences, we ultimately could not come to a clear consensus on who to specifically endorse. 

Chinmay spoke passionately about his investment in teaching and holding fellow trustees responsible on the realities of financial aid. The board was impressed by his thoughtful convictions regarding reducing loans and other monetary burdens that often come with a Duke education. However, we found that Chinmay ultimately did not accurately present how his diverse lived experiences or specific actions on campus could speak to how they could accurately represent the diversity of Duke’s student body required of a Young Trustee. 

Amy brought up disability rights on campus in her interview, citing health complications during her Duke experience as evidence of her commitment to improving on-campus accessibility if elected. Her experience with collaborative work within the military was also emphasized as a selling point that could be translated effectively to the Board. Moreover, Amy has stressed throughout her campaign the importance of female representation in communities of power such as the military—a central feature of her senior thesis. The board did find it somewhat problematic that she did not emphasize the importance of intersectionality within female representation on the Board; gender, after all, is bound to so many other identities experienced by ordinary Duke students.

Bryce’s interview centered around his commitment to a wide array of diverse student groups on campus and his commitment to representing said perspectives to the Board of Trustees. As a resident assistant with a record of student activism, along with being the only candidate on non-merit need based financial aid, Bryce’s resume stood out in comparison to many other candidates we have interviewed in past elections. Nonetheless, many editorial board members questioned the tangible results of his student activist work, and how his strong positions on a number of topics could pragmatically translate behind closed doors.

Liz stood out with her deep commitment to Durham-Duke relations and her in depth understanding of the city around us, historically and contemporarily. She emphasized the importance of a Young Trustee’s willingness to be critical and brought in perspectives unique to her extensive experience working with vulnerable populations in the city. Liz also brought a powerful and rare passion for labor issues on campus and described the role she argued Duke should embody as the largest employer in the region. However, board members also expressed concern whether or not she could truly represent Duke’s diverse student body, which she would be the voice for, if elected. 

In the end, the vote within The Chronicle was split relatively evenly between Liz Brown and Amy Kramer. Given the recent discussions over the lack of female representation among Young Trustees, we believe that students this year should pay particular attention to gender when casting their votes for their next Young Trustee. So many subjective factors need to be gauged when choosing a student to represent the undergraduate body on the Board; yet this year, we urge voters to make gender a particularly important one. 

Surabhi Beriwal recused herself from the endorsement.


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