“Duke Student Government is a joke.” “It’s riddled with elitist wannabe consultants.” “They’re just looking for another piece of fluff to add to their resumes.” “I don’t get what DSG is for. Like what do they even do?” “F**k DSG, am I right?”
I hear these sentiments expressed nearly every day. And I get it. Roasting DSG is easy: We have issues. For one, I doubt that every single individual in DSG is involved for the right reasons. Titles like “Senator” sound professional and mildly important. DSG representatives love mild importance. It seems to me that sometimes we care about change as much as we care about our email signatures. And it doesn’t help that we’re not always the best at reaching out to students. Many of DSG’s projects fly entirely under the radar, at least until completion, and even then it isn’t always clear that DSG was involved.
So yeah, there are a lot of reasons to not get involved with DSG. However, I can’t stop seeing its profound impacts on our university. When I ran for DSG, I did so because I saw a need for better mental health awareness on campus. There’s an expectation that here, when your mental health is suffering, it must mean you’re doing something right. I found that appalling. So I decided to do something about it. I ran for Senator of Services and Sustainability because I saw an opportunity to affect the changes that I wanted to see in this university. Through all of the projects I worked on, from helping to set up a peer-counseling office in the Wellness Center, producing a series of wellness videos for incoming freshmen with DSB, working with DuWell to reform True Blue, to assisting in the creation of Moments of Mindfulness workshops, I worked as hard as I could to get students to prioritize their own mental health and wellness. I wanted to foster a culture where taking care of each other and ourselves wasn’t recreational, but instead, essential. I did this because it was important to me.
And I’m not alone in that pursuit. I’ve watched other members of DSG do incredible things for this student body. I saw Rasheca Logendran work to create the Farmers Market to connect local farmers to Duke. I saw Andrew Carlins work hard alongside me to make Moments of Mindfulness a reality, to give students a chance to take time for themselves. I saw our Senate pass resolutions to make campus smoke-free, to support the expansion of the Computer Science department, and to encourage the creation of an Asian American studies department. I also saw Kristina Smith finalize the Daily Devil Deals, work to create the Career Closet, and ensure that no club meetings could be held in the Languages building so students with disabilities would not be barred from participating in student groups.
These people inspire me. Because of them, I feel like I can make a difference. Because of them, I want to work to give all students sexual assault prevention training. I want to adjust CAPS to ensure students receive therapy in more effective and timely ways. I want to foster faculty-student connections that allow faculty to be informed about the mental health of their students. And I will continue to work hard to guarantee we have resources secure and accessible enough to give our mental health and wellness the attention it deserves.
I’m running for VP of Services and Sustainability. But my involvement in these projects isn’t contingent on this election. Regardless of the result, I am determined to make the changes I think this campus needs.
DSG has its flaws. But at its core, it’s a group of students who want to improve our university. Sure, I wish the outlook on DSG was different. But whether or not we’re a punch line, we’ll keep pushing to make your voices heard. And I hope that one day, you’ll be saying “F**k yeah, DSG!” instead.