Members of the Duke Student Government executive branch detailed their efforts to improve Duke services and programs at Wednesday’s Senate meeting.
Each project focused on a specific area of interest held by each member of the executive team, beginning with DSG President Tommy Hessel, a senior. Hessel, continuing from last year, has focused on creating a crowdfunding platform.
The project "got approval last year, and I've been working through the details of making sure that it gets implemented this [academic year]," Hessel said.
Hessel's focus has been to secure funding for the program, which is "not as easy to come by" due to the pandemic, he said.
Executive Vice President Dina Qiryaqoz, a junior, is continuing to work on her Alternative Spring Break project.
"The project got approval from Provost Sally Kornbluth, but it's currently on hold because of COVID," Qiryaqoz said.
Qiryaqoz is also currently working on reviewing and updating all DSG bylaws. Because the bylaws have not been edited since 2013, Qiryaqoz noted that they frequently "caused trouble" for DSG.
Ramya Ginjupalli, a junior and vice president of campus life, is currently working on an anti-bias training project that she began over the summer. Additionally, she is working with Joe Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean for residential life, on housing reform and the independent housing process.
Junior Zac Johnson, vice president of services and sustainability, is continuing a project he began over the summer to build institutional connections between all of the undergraduate environmental groups on campus. In addition, he is working on "disseminating information to first-years, such as the Being Not Rich at Duke guide and the Duke University Crash Course," Johnson said.
Junior Christina Wang, vice president of equity and outreach, worked with various committees on Blue Devil Buddies, a mentorship program for incoming first-year students that pairs each student with an upperclassman to help them better assimilate to Duke. Wang also plans to continue a project with a senator from the Academic Affairs Committee regarding course cost transparency and working to create a student advocate's office. The advocate's office would work to create a space "within DSG where students can get support both procedurally and emotionally from peers when they are going through the conduct process, be that grievances, reporting sexual violence, or even misconduct," Wang said.
Junior Shrey Majmudar, vice president of academic affairs, is working on DSG’s Class Feedback Form, established to allow students to provide feedback regarding their professors and courses at Duke.
Junior Aly Diaz, vice president of Durham and regional affairs, worked with sophomore Drew Flanagan, chair of the Student Organization Finance Committee, on having Duke student groups donate their excess funds to "social justice or COVID-19 relief causes," Diaz said. According to Diaz, SOFC and DSG do not often collaborate in joint projects like this, so it was an "awesome experience."
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Will Brodner, a senior, was unanimously elected chief justice of the DSG Judiciary. Sophomores Cynthia Dong, Dawei Gao, Rhea Tejwani, and Tommy Shen were unanimously elected to participate in the Senate Selection Committee, which assists with the interviewing and selection of student senators for DSG.
Ginjupalli was elected to serve on the University Schedule Committee, a Duke committee that "discusses a broad range of issues relating to the University calendar… and submits a University calendar one year out for the Provost approval," Qiryaqoz said.
Johnson and sophomore Chaya Brennan Agarwal were elected to serve on the campus sustainability board. Johnson was also selected to be a part of the Duke Forest Advisory Committee.
Sophomore Sawyer O'Keefe and junior Bisma Suleman were selected as part of the Facilities and Environment Committee.
The SOFC chartered two new clubs: the Devils Dialogue club, which seeks to bring together Duke students to engage in meaningful conversations and debates, and Spoken Verb, a spoken word collective.