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Young Trustee nominating committee chooses not to release semifinalists’ names, citing ‘privacy’

Waiting to see who the undergraduate Young Trustee semifinalists will be this year? You might never know.

Unlike in previous years, the Young Trustee Nominating Committee—a group convened by Duke Student Government and the University Secretary to evaluate applicants—voted not to release the names of semifinalists for the two-year seat on the Board of Trustees. Instead, the committee will only release the names of the finalists.

“Given that students will only vote on the 3-4 eventual finalists, the YTNC chose to respect the semifinalists’ privacy rather than release their names to the public,” committee chair and senior Gino Nuzzolillo wrote in an email to The Chronicle. 

Applications for the position were due Friday, according to an email sent to the student body from Richard Riddell, senior vice president and secretary to the Board of Trustees. From the applicant pool, the YTNC selects a group of semifinalists, whom the committee will interview during the following week. The YTNC chooses finalists by Jan. 20, setting the Young Trustee campaign in full swing—floods of Facebook photos, candidate websites and all—for the Feb. 11-12 election. 

Young Trustees serve on the board for one year as an observer and then a second or third year as a full-fledged voting member. They are supposed to be fiduciaries of the University, not pushing a certain agenda. 

“Young Trustees, like other trustees, demonstrate an ability to think broadly about the university, understand the role of the university in society, are curious about institutional issues facing Duke, and respect how universities are administered and governed,” Riddell wrote. “Young Trustees are independent and collegial and are good representatives of Duke University.”

Last year, Trey Walk, Trinity ‘19 and a leader in the People's State of the University activist group, won the election, narrowly beating out Duke University Union President Brian Buhr, as well as Luke Farrell and Archana Ahlawat, all Trinity ‘19.

There is also a graduate Young Trustee selected every year. Unlike the undergraduate Young Trustee, the graduate Young Trustee is selected from three finalists by a Graduate and Professional Student Council vote. Semifinalists interview with the Young Trustee Selection Committee in January. 

Last year, William Brody, Trinity ‘12 and Fuqua '18, won the position

Jake Satisky contributed reporting.