Junior Daisy Almonte is putting equity at the forefront of her Duke Student Government presidential campaign.
She joined DSG as sophomore because of her efforts to mobilize administrators to support undocumented students on campus after the 2016 presidential election. For Almonte, joining DSG was a way to have access to resources that would further the efforts she worked on previously.
“The most powerful tool a DSG president has is the ability to get invited into meetings as the representative of the undergraduate student body," Almonte said. "They then have the ability to set the agenda and influence the conversation especially if administrators may not be aware of what students feel or care about."
Almonte currently serves as the vice president of equity and outreach in the DSG Senate and is a founding member of the First-Generation/Low-Income Caucus and Latinx Caucus. She is involved with Mi Gente, Duke Define American and is a mentor for the First-Generation Pre-Orientation program. She is also a Benjamin N. Duke Scholar and a Baldwin Scholar.
Off campus, Almonte serves on the board of directors of Student Action with Farmworkers, a Durham nonprofit that she has been involved with since high school.
Her background provides her with a unique perspective into the issues that many students face on campus, she explained. Almonte said that she knows the day-to-day struggles different cultural groups go through to access funding and how these non-Duke and non-DSG networks function. She added that she would be a liaison for people who may typically not get involved in DSG.
Her platform has three main components: starting with equity, amplifying demands for action and paving a two-way street with administrators.
Almonte said she hopes to make Duke a more equitable place starting with the admissions process by removing the requirement for the ACT or SAT and by focusing on the means by which students pay for their education—financial aid.
"If we can include student input at the beginning of policy changes, we will be by virtue starting all policy decisions with more equity," Almonte said.
To bridge the gap between DSG and the student body, Almonte said she hopes to create a mechanism within the newly established DSG caucus system in which students who are not senators can join those caucuses.
Another aim is to create a partnership between the caucus system and the sexual misconduct task force—which only has a few undergraduates, including Almonte.
To increase safety enhancing mechanisms, Daisy says she will also aim to amplify demands from undocumented students, including alerts for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement presence on campus and a partnership with the immigration law clinic at Duke Law to institutionalize legal counsel available for them.
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Much of her emphasis focuses on transparency between the student body and administrators.
“After that one email that President [Vincent] Price or administrators will send, that’s the end of what students hear unless you’re one of those students that is super involved," Almonte said.
She said that the solution to this problem is simple—to transform the campus-wide listserv blast. The president would have access to it, and it would include relevant information about important decisions happening or policy that is being drafted, especially regarding hate or bias policy.
Junior Ivan Robles, a friend of Almonte and a fellow member of the equity and outreach committee, said that he had heard about Almonte—particularly for working on issues related to undocumented students and workers—even prior to her involvement in DSG.
"[Almonte] will encourage Duke leaders to get down from their ivory towers and get out from behind those closed doors and ground themselves in the same ways that Daisy has grounded herself in those communities and in prioritizing the voices of the student body," Robles said.
Correction: This article originally misstated when Almonte joined DSG. The Chronicle regrets the error.