Junior Saheel Chodavadia has based his platform for Duke Student Government president on three pillars—access, community and transformation.
As president, Chodavadia—who currently serves as vice president of academic affairs in DSG—will prioritize tangible improvements in access to advising, wellness, community life and campus culture. He detailed his extensive DSG project experience and his passion for listening to student perspectives.
“One of the core driving forces behind my campaign is that I've had the opportunity to meet so many different students from so many different groups, different religions, different cultures, different identities, mixed identities,” he said. “And using the narratives I've heard, the stories I've heard and the relationships I've made, I can translate them into high-level administrative impact as DSG president.”
Chodavadia also serves as president of the Hindu Students Association. In addition, he is co-president of the Duke Impact Investing Group, which aims to make better social impact investments through Duke's endowment, and is a mentor for the launch lab.
Chodavadia noted that "incorporating the narratives of the people into policy" is the "common thematic link" that runs through all his experiences.
"It's always been, 'What are the narratives of the students, what have the students experienced and how can I translate that into something that's beneficial for them?'” he said.
Chodavadia explained how each part of his platform combines his project experiences with his future goals as president.
Regarding access, he seeks to restructure advising from the ground up to be more equitable and effective and said he has been working on this goal since he was a first-year.
Moreover, Chodavadia said he aims to expand wellness infrastructure for first-years on East Campus, drawing from his experience working on wellness projects.
“We're collaborating with Peer for You to make wellness resources more accessible for students and we worked on changing STINF to the Incapacitation Form,” Chodavadia said. “Our input was really key in that decision-making process."
Chodavadia said he also plans to implement a Duke mentorship program he is currently working on, which would provide one-to-one peer mentorship for all incoming first-years.
As president, Chadovadia said he hopes to amplify student voices on classroom incidents of hate and bias to the administration and to hold them accountable beyond just faculty trainings, which he said are “ineffective.”
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
He also wants to establish DSG town halls.
"Conceptually, DSG is meant to be this place where students can organize, consolidate and unite [for a] common cause. I don't think it's been doing that in the past," Chodavadia said. "We've made improvements, but even at this stage, we can do so much more to have student voices inform our decisions."
Another program Chodavadia helped launch was Duke Common Hour.
“Basically, every single month, we host one of Duke’s extremely famous faculty members…The purpose is to break down barriers between high-level faculty and students so that students can connect more,” he said.
Junior Manish Kumar, who met Chodavadia during sophomore year at DSG when they both served as senators for academic affairs, said Chodavadia's incredible enthusiasm, drive and experience in taking on countless initiatives and creating tangible change make him the most reliable and pragmatic candidate.
"Something that I really appreciate about Saheel is that what he says he's going to do, he will do, because he has a history of being able to get things done in the past,” Kumar said. “I think he will live up to his platform, and I think we can expect him to carry out exactly what he says he will.”