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Luke Farrell stresses financial aid issues, diversity and inclusion in Young Trustee campaign

Luke Farrell | Special to the Chronicle
Luke Farrell | Special to the Chronicle

Senior and Young Trustee finalist Luke Farrell says he is committed to building a better Duke. 

As the former Chair of the Student Organization Finance Committee, Farrell said meeting with every single one of the student organizations during his tenure improved his understanding of the needs of the Duke community. During his tenure on the SOFC, he also collaborated with the Duke Disability Alliance to make Duke events accessible for all.

“Being bold, being interested, being invested in the future of this university is something that excites me and that I am willing to do the work for,” Farrell said.

Off campus, Farrell has also served as a member of the Cultural Engagement Fund. 

Recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion, Farrell wants to advocate for the hiring of diverse faculty and for better hate and bias policies that make all students feel safe, supported and respected. 

Farrell has served as a student representative on the Board of Trustees’ Business and Finance Committee. This experience has allowed him to establish positive relations with the Trustees and the administration, he said.

He currently serves as a student representative on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility and has previously advocated for divestment from fossil fuels. 

“I want to make sure that every single dollar of our eight-billion-dollar endowment is not only not causing harm, but doing good,” he said. 

Farrell, a columnist for The Chronicle, is concerned with students' financial needs and healthcare provision. 

“We are in a crisis,” Farrell said. “We have a several million dollar funding gap that needs to be closed and we can close that either by cutting essential services for hundreds of students or by changing the financing model. I suggest that we should never do the former and that we have a moral responsibility to do the latter.”

Farrell grew up in Hauppauge, New York where his mother—a public school teacher—and his grandfather, a janitor at his high school, instilled in him that his education was "never to be taken lightly."

Farrell, who studies neuroscience, computer science, and math, said that a small percentage of the Trustees have a background in STEM. He believes he can be a voice that is currently missing.

Senior Kushal Kadakia, who first met Farrell in Duke Student Government during his first year on campus, spoke highly of Farrell’s understanding of the Duke experience. 

“What makes Luke the best candidate for Young Trustee is how he’s able to contextualize the current student experience to Duke’s long-term narrative, amplifying all of our voices to make Duke a better place,” Kadakia said. “There’s no one I trust more to know the content, navigate the bureaucracy and choose the harder right when making decisions for Duke students today and tomorrow.”

Jennifer M. Groh, professor of psychology and neuroscience, who has been Farrell’s instructor, research mentor, and academic advisor is confident that Farrell would be a conscientious, fair-minded, and evidence-based member of the board. 

“One particular comment Luke made during his time as a student representative really stuck in my mind," Groh wrote in an email. “He said he’d found that being extremely well prepared regarding the facts behind each issue was an effective way of carrying the day. I wish I’d had that insight when I was 22!” 

Farrell will work as an Associate Product Manager for Google after graduation. He is excited to meet as many students as he can in the upcoming days, hear about their issues and understand what they want to see in their next Young Trustee.  

“The Board of Trustees already has 35 members, so we have to ask ourselves — why does it matter that they added an extra chair for us?” Farrell said. “We have to make it matter. We have to change the conversation, we have to vote when it’s unpopular — and that’s what I have done and will continue to do as Young Trustee.”


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