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Student life reform is at the center of Sabriyya Pate's run for DSG president

At the heart of Sabriyya Pate’s campaign to be Duke Student Government president is her care for the school and the people within it.

“Every day I am in awe of the amazing people on this campus. Everyone here is going to be a leader in whatever they pursue, but I see the gaps in student life, and I’m disappointed,” Pate said. “I want to be a part of the effort to make sure students’ interests are being heard and acted upon.”

With leadership experience for multiple student groups on campus—including the Alexander Hamilton Society, Women's Institute for Secondary Education and Research and American Grand Strategy Program Council—Pate has been an active member of the campus community and has experienced firsthand areas on campus that need improvement.

Her plans include creating a fund for students who want to attend conferences and improving communication between DSG and student leaders.

“We need transparent mechanisms for communicating with student leaders,” Pate said. “I’ve talked to so many different student groups, and there are so many who have a whole laundry list of how DSG can help them. Each identity group right now has a senator attached to them. For some, they say the senators have worked with them, but I want to expand it beyond identity groups.”

Pate decided to join DSG as a first-year when a report came out revealing a huge lack of diversity  of international students, engineering students and people of color. She wanted to join to fix this issue because DSG should be serving all students, she explained.

Serving as the attorney general of DSG for two years, Pate has had the opportunity to work closely with two serving DSG presidents and see what roles they actually play in the community.

“A lot of the job is people-managing and corresponding with people,” Pate said. “Often, [past presidents] will have these ideas, and they have to delegate to senators and the vice president to accomplish them. That’s a big part of why I want to be president—I know I have the competency, vision and effective leadership to make sure DSG is working for students.”

Senior Matthew King, Pate's AGS Program Council co-chair, affirmed her ability to collaborate with others effectively.

“Sabriyya has enjoyed a breadth of experiences on campus that make her a superb advocate for Duke students,” King said. “I think she is a rare combination of a person with strong convictions and someone who is willing to listen to and engage with a variety of perspectives. I think that is a great strength to her whether working with administration or students to make change happen on this campus.”

The change that Pate is most determined to affect revolves around reform for independent housing, an issue impacting every student on Duke’s campus, she said. 

“It’s so important to be able to feel at home [at Duke] in order to take advantage of everything here,” Pate said. “A sense of belonging is so important, and a lot of Duke students don’t have that sense of community in their independent housing.”

Through her experience as a resident assistant for two years, Pate has already had a hand in changing independent housing for the better. Last year, she organized “Kilgo Rush,” which offered an alternative to Greek and selective living group rush.

“Independent houses have the unique opportunity of diversity in academics and in backgrounds” Pate said. “They’re fertile ground for community.”

After already playing a role in reform, Pate said she sees the opportunity to bring about broader changes through the position of DSG president.

“DSG needs a leader to hold it accountable,” Pate said. “The president is in the position to create accountability and transparency, to act on the needs of minorities and to bring coalitions together to think about transformative solutions to issues.”


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