Young Trustee candidate Brian Buhr, a senior, prides himself on being a part of every corner of campus.
Buhr is president of Duke University Union, former program director of the pre-orientation program Project BUILD, a former Women’s Center intern, intramural soccer player, a former Duke Student Government senator for Durham and regional affairs and a veteran black-tenter going on his fourth year.
The diversity of these communities is one of the reasons Buhr decided to go to Duke.
“Duke was magical,” he said. "There were people from all over. I felt such a sense of belonging.”
Buhr says he is running for Young Trustee because he believes that Duke is special and that there are ways it can be changed for the better.
The Board of Trustees should be more committed to ensuring responsible stewardship of Duke's effects on the Durham community and making sure the research that takes place is ethical, he said. Board members are vital stewards of what the University is and what it stands for, Buhr added, and this responsibility should not be taken lightly.
He noted that diversity is at the core of what makes the University great. Not only should there be more exposure to different types of people, he said, but Student Affairs also needs greater support in order to serve the community more effectively.
“More than any other Duke student or someone that I’ve met in my life, Brian takes the time to understand ideas, values and opinions of people who are different from him,” said senior Madden Osei, who has been Buhr’s friend since first grade.
Osei noted that Buhr has the ability to become a part of every community he joins and truly connect across cross-cultural barriers. He explained that Buhr is able to engage with Osei's mother, who is African, compared to his other friends who have a hard time connecting with her.
This anecdote is a testament to Buhr's strengths as a leader, Osei said, adding that Buhr is empathetic and takes the time to get to know people outside of any particular group.
Moreover, he's adept at finding compromise and common ground between Duke communities that often don’t see eye to eye, Osei said.
“He is very thoughtful and aware that the right answer isn’t always the first answer. The best student advocacy is collaborative,” said B.J. Rudell, associate director of the Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service.
Rudell worked with Buhr on POLIS’ Duke Votes effort, and said that Buhr was instrumental in helping POLIS register students and ensure as many people voted as possible.
Buhr said that he will be the most effective Young Trustee because of his commitment and experience. He has served as the student representative on the Board of Trustees’ External Engagement Committee for the past two years. In this capacity, he has learned how to engage with the Board and create change despite barriers that may emerge due to differences in power. If elected, Buhr said he will easily get up to speed and start enacting change.
“There is a lack of humanity when it comes to the Trustee level," the senior said. "They are at times a bit removed from campus."
He said that he will serve as a reminder to the Board that the Trustees are ultimately working toward the betterment of generations of Duke students to come.
Buhr said that his great breadth of experience at Duke and his ability to articulate the experiences of people who are different than himself make him the best candidate for Young Trustee.
Osei added that Buhr would be an effective Young Trustee due to his ability to connect with every community.
“Brian has the power and the will to change things for the better,” Osei said.
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