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DSG Senate transitions to Zoom, plans for Duke alumni videos and grading survey

What used to be a two-hour sit-down is now a 20-minute Zoom conference—welcome to the new Duke Student Government Senate meetings.

President Pro Tempore Aly Diaz, a junior, wrote in an email to The Chronicle following the meeting about some of the steps DSG has taken to remain inclusive to all members, as senators joined the 24-minute meeting from various different time zones to give updates on their projects and hear new proposals. For the many senators who were unable to join synchronously, the meetings are recorded, and a window is open for 36 hours to vote on any legislation that arises. This meeting was the second DSG Senate held on Zoom.

“It is not the ideal way to work Senate and keep senators engaged, but it was the best option,” Diaz wrote. 

In contrast to past in-person meetings, the Senate did not vote to approve any Senate Organization Financing Committee funding this week. Diaz added that there was not any proposed legislation either.

With the transition of meetings to online also comes the transformation of campus-based projects to an online format. Senator Meghna Mahadevan, a sophomore, discussed an effort in conjunction with the Duke Alumni Association to create videos in which alumni will “share some type of hardship they experienced at Duke, how they overcame it and where they are now,” she said. 

The selected alumni would ideally be people who could empathize with the students’ current situation, such as graduates from 2008 or 2009 who entered into a job market during the Great Recession.

Much of the debate surrounding this proposal regarded the current flood of emails to students over the past several weeks. As a result of Duke going remote, there was a general consensus of the alumni project to be in a video format, instead of an email, and for it to be sent out on weekends when there are fewer correspondences in general. 

“Everyone’s inboxes are just inundated with emails right now,” Mahadevan said. 

In other business

The Academic Affairs and Equity and Outreach committees worked to create a survey assessing student opinions on grading policies so that the senators know which policies the students want DSG to advocate for. Senior Manish Kumar, vice president for academic affairs, said that the survey has already garnered a “significant response.”

In an effort to encourage virtual community-building, senator Nehal Jain, a sophomore, asked the others to promote Blue Devil Mails, through which students can send messages, anonymously if they choose, to any student. Jain said that they have already received over 100 responses, which she said were “really cute.”

Susan Gordon, senior director of career and professional development at lifelong learning in Duke Alumni Association, updated the group on the expansion of the “Ask a Blue Devil” program, which she wants to open to all students. The program is awaiting final budget approval, Gordon said, and it allows students to fill out a personalized questionnaire and receive alumni advice on various topics. 

“This is an easy way to make connections and do informal interviews,” Gordon said.


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