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. One of the scenario questions was included in their debate stories.
Junior Liv McKinney: Thank you everyone for coming and tuning in. My name is Liv McKinney. I use she/her/hers pronouns. I’m a junior from Columbus, Ohio studying biology, chemistry and medical sociology.
I'm super excited to be running for Duke Student Government president after three years on the services and sustainability committee. I’m running for DSG president because I want to make this a more accessible and a more inclusive campus. When I first came to Duke, I was very nervous about how money would shape my experiences here, and after experiencing firsthand some of the limitations of Duke’s resources, I was really inspired to join DSG.
Since joining, I’ve tried to use my positions and project work to make students' lives easier. From getting wellness products and medications including Plan B in vending machines to piloting the Food for Fines program to changing the first-year meal plan from 500 to 800 food points to guarantee three meals a day, I’ve really tried to put students first with my project work.
And if elected, that's exactly what I would continue to prioritize. So for next year, some of the things I want to focus on are expanding accessibility, both financially and physically on this campus, holding Duke accountable to not only its students but to its greater community and, lastly, reimagining student life during an exciting transition to West Campus. I think it's so important for the DSG president to not only identify issues on campus and be able to point those out, but to work with groups to make this change happen on an administrative level.
The Chronicle: Your website talks about “banning the box.” Some academic research has shown that it can actually increase discrimination. To quote the New York Times’ writing on a study, “lacking the ability to discern criminal history, employers became much less likely to call back any apparently black applicant. They seemed to treat all black applicants now as if they might have a criminal past.” Do you support the policy, and why?
LM: Before putting that policy on my website, or even looking into this, I talked with a lot of the students involved in the initial activism that allowed that change to happen on this campus. Something that they mentioned was that study exactly, and the [student activists] said one way they were working to get around that was working with admin to find quotas or goals to reach for minority hiring, and also specifically looking at candidates that had been involved in the criminal justice.
So one reason that I brought up that project was to work in accordance with these efforts to try to find ways to responsibly and intentionally promote our hiring practices to target these people who have had pasts in the criminal justice system, so that we’re able to meet those goals that are hopefully moving forward with this policy that student activists are currently working on.
TC: Your platform has a lot of goals on it. If you could only do one thing next year, what would it be?
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LM: That’s such a good question. I think, one, the platform has a lot of goals, but they’re all things that have come up in DSG exec this year—that’s why I made sure to include every single one on there. I would say the one I am most excited about working on is the hidden costs at Duke. I think personally I’ve had the most experience working in affordability, and I think affordability is something that touches so many students’ lives here. Hidden costs make it so difficult for students to fully prepare for not only attending Duke, but managing life here.
So I think being able to identify those hidden costs [and] find ways to make them manageable or avoidable for students who struggle in those areas is a huge priority for me. For the other projects, I’m so confident that I would also get to work on those or have an executive board or senators also willing to work on them, so I don’t think a big platform is unrealistic by any means.
TC: After one allegation of hazing—with no details provided about the allegations—is made against an IFC fraternity, administration decides to suspend all IFC fraternities for the entire academic year. What would your response be?
LM: Something similar happened this year with allegations. I don't think DSG was too involved in that process, but it's important admin takes that very seriously. They look for student input—usually they go to fraternities directly.
As DSG president, that's something that affects the safety and support of students. I would try and meet with these groups as well to hear their thoughts about what happened, especially with no details provided—context is very important. After understanding their side, meeting with admin is super important to hear what the reasons for suspension were also.
DSG hasn't been super involved in Greek life regulating, because it's nationally regulated and patrolled very intensely by admin. I would get involved and try and hear the sides of the story to make sure students were supported and safe, but I don't know how much say we would have in that. I would and try to get the full story at least to try and represent student opinions.