Editor's note about the debate: Each candidate had 90 seconds to introduce themselves and give an opening statement. Then, we asked three candidate-specific questions for each candidate, with one minute to respond to each. Any candidate that is mentioned in another candidate’s answer had 30 seconds to respond. Two of those responses for each candidate were included in their debate stories. Each candidate had two scenario questions with 90 seconds to respond to each. We reserved the right to follow up on candidate’s responses. Candidates had 30 seconds to respond to the follow up question.
Junior Daisy Almonte: Hi everyone, my name is Daisy Almonte. I’m a junior from a small town southeast of here called Turkey. I like to tell people that we have 300 people if you round up and one gas station, so that pretty much sums it up. I’m studying public policy and sociology, and I think what makes the experience of running for DSG president something special is that I was never meant to come to Duke University.
My path to Duke was no straight line and neither was my path to Duke Student Government. When I was a senior in high school, I would have never dreamed of attending Duke—I didn’t think that was something that was possible for a first-generation, low-income student from a rural background. When I did make it here, I didn’t think that Duke Student Government was a place for a first-generation Latina struggling to find her community in a place that was a predominantly white institution.
But after my first year of organizing with my community around issues surrounding immigration and really taking an activist role in my community, I decided to join Duke Student Government my sophomore year as a senator on the equity and outreach committee, because I thought that the way the way that the representative body was functioning was not necessarily being accessible to the fullest extent of the term.
So it’s with that experience in mind that I joined, and it’s that experience that has guided all the work I’ve done in my two years in DSG, first as a senator and then as a vice president of equity and outreach. I’ve prioritized elevating hidden costs of underrepresented communities here at Duke. I’ve brought forth to the Career Center the hidden costs of the internship and the career recruitment process.
The Chronicle: As vice president of equity and outreach, you have spoken at Senate about needing a hate and bias policy. What do you think the policy should look like?
Daisy Almonte: Something that I made sure to emphasize in that resolution that I did present at Senate was that such a policy needed to be made in collaboration with students, so that student input could be at the forefront of that policy. Of course, that policy has to be drafted first and foremost by lawyers, but reflecting student input—even student input that might not necessarily agree with what I think should be on that policy—is definitely important.
But from conversations with professors in the Sanford School of Public Policy and research that I’ve done on my own, I feel that it would be important to distinguish in such a policy the difference between acts that hurt individuals’ emotions and acts that hurt individuals’ standing in society and their ability to function in society with dignity.
TC: What do you think the role of Greek life should be in Duke’s residential housing model, as a member of non-residential Greek group?
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DA: I think when it comes to imagining what the role of Greek life can be here on campus, I have a very nuanced perspective, because I am a member of a Greek organization where I benefit from the community-building aspects of it and a lot of the sisterhood and bonds that come along with that community, without necessarily having to live with the people, and I still feel like we have a close, tight-knit relationship. But at the same time, being a member of the Baldwin Scholars program, where there is arranged housing, I do see the way that living in proximity to one another also fosters that sort of community building and fosters those relationships.
But I think that with the new recommendations coming out soon from the Next Generation Living and Learning Task Force, I would be interested in seeing what students who have different perspectives have to say about the issue, and going from there about how we think about Greek life in terms of the role it plays in housing.
TC: You learn the administration is planning on taking an action that you think is harmful for certain student populations, but you learned about the policy in closed-door meetings and have been told you cannot speak publicly about the policy. What do you do?
DA: I will disclose whatever I can disclose about the policy, because I’m pretty sure if I’m told I can’t disclose the policy, there’s going to be one particular aspect of the policy that’s probably going to be what I can’t disclose. So, I will disclose whatever it is that I can disclose. I’ll disclose one, the fact that there is a policy coming out, and then whatever details I can disclose about the policy. And then be honest about the fact that there’s a certain part of the policy that I’m withholding and explain that I’m withholding it because I learned about it in a closed-door meeting and [was] asked not to share that part of it. I would continue to go as far as I could and disclose whatever I could.
Additionally, I think that I would try to make sure that I spoke to the administrator or administrators that were asking me not to disclose that, and if I felt that—which, I think I would feel that the students would need to know if a hurtful policy was coming their way—I would try to convince them of why it would be in their best interest as administrators to let students know that this policy was coming right now rather than wait. Because a lot of times what happens with administrators and student activists is that students get frustrated that they learn about things way too late in the decision-making process, and then administrators, a lot of times, their response is, “We’ve already gone so far with this policy, and we can’t turn back.”
So I would use my experience navigating these sorts of spaces to tell administration, “It would be in your best interest to actually let me disclose this.” But if not, disclose whatever I can and be honest about the fact that I’m withholding something.