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Student leaders to advise administration on plans for academic year

A group of student leaders will provide input on Duke’s plans for the upcoming academic year, as part of administration's effort to include student feedback.

The 2021 Student Advisory Board was introduced to undergraduates in a Tuesday evening email from Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education, and Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president for student affairs. The board had their first meeting June 15 and will continue to meet through early August, according to the email.

The next academic year will be unique, with Duke planning to bring students back to campus amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“Our teams in Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs are eager to understand the wide range of sentiments and decision points for students and their families,” the email reads. "The more we can know about the issues that drive your decisions—whether you plan to be physically present in Durham or to engage remotely with Duke this fall—the more we can successfully partner with you for a safe start to the academic year."

The SAB has 12 members, with experience ranging from positions in Duke Student Government and varsity athletics to the Multicultural Greek Council and Duke Low-Income, First-Generation Engagement. 

Shrey Majmudar, a junior and vice president of academic affairs for DSG, serves as co-chair alongside Li-Chen Chin, assistant vice president for intercultural programs for student affairs. Chin is the only member who is not an undergraduate student. 

There are many different aspects of student life, Majmudar told The Chronicle in an interview, and the SAB will work to discuss as many as possible. They will conduct “deep dives” each week, meeting with University leaders from various parts of campus and providing written feedback with recommendations from a student’s perspective. 

Senator Shrey Majmudar talks about the results of a survey administered to students about technology.
Senator Shrey Majmudar talks about the results of a survey administered to students about technology.

Junior Shrey Majmudar is co-chair of the 2021 Student Advisory Board.

The first deep dive was held this week with Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services, which Majmudar said already generated important student feedback regarding dining plans for international students returning to campus mid-semester.

This week’s second deep dive will be about student and public health, including conversations about Student Health clinics, testing for students and general public health on Duke’s campus.

Future deep dives will include facilities with John Noonan, vice president for facilities, and Student Affairs; academics; student programming with University Center Activities & Events, regarding extracurriculars and events; and student wellness with DukeReach, DuWELL and Counseling and Psychological Services. 

Members of the SAB will also join the Fall 2020 Student Policies and Expectations Working Group to help determine “student health and safety-related guidance and community commitments,” according to the email. 

The board is also considering meeting with Duke Recreation and the Duke Libraries, Majmudar added.

Majmudar recognized that while the board is fairly diverse, they are not entirely representative of the student body. To counteract this, Majmudar said the board will have roundtable chats with major student groups on campus, which the email lists as “including but not limited to: identity and affinity groups, Duke LIFE, International Association, mental health groups, and religious life groups.”

“No group of students can ever pretend to represent the full student body’s interest, so [the SAB is] reaching out to as many groups as possible to make sure that we can have many student voices heard and use the [SAB] to elevate student voices,” Majmudar said.

This is not administration’s first effort to get feedback from students. The Fall 2020 Planning Survey, sent to the student body June 8, received more than 3,200 responses, according to the email. 

The members of the 2021 Student Advisory Board are listed in the email, along with campus involvement:

  • Co-Chair Shrey Majmudar, junior and DSG vice president of academic affairs
  • Co-Chair Li-Chen Chin, assistant vice president for intercultural programs, Division of Student Affairs
  • Senior A.G. Chancellor IV, Undergraduate Conduct Board
  • Senior Annie Roberts, RA Leadership Council and co-chair of Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee
  • Junior Carlos Diaz, president of Mi Gente
  • Senior Ellie Winslow, varsity swimming and diving and Duke Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
  • Senior Lauren Willis, Multicultural Greek Council and president of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi.
  • Senior Madison Alvarado, President of NeuroCare
  • Senior Omar Benallal, DSG co-director of racial and multicultural diversity and outreach
  • Senior Sarah Kane, Co-President of Duke LIFE and co-chair of the Human Rights Student Advisory Board
  • Senior Tanisha Nalavadi, DSG director of international outreach and policy
  • Junior Ysanne Spence, Duke University Union vice president of external affairs

Maria Morrison

Maria Morrison is a Trinity senior and a digital strategy director for The Chronicle's 117th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 116.


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