Duke Student Government senators held a conversation about the recent Bryan Center office space debate during its Wednesday meeting.
In a prior conversation between DSG senators and Mary Pat McMahon, vice president and vice provost of student affairs, Duke administration revealed that the University is putting a hold on plans to fill the vacant office space in the Bryan Center. This pause comes after identity group leaders sent an email to administrators and published an open letter in The Chronicle expressing concerns with Duke’s decision to move the Career Center into the newly empty space.
“[The Career Center is] still moving out, but what they’re moving in is up in the air,” said senior and executive vice president Ramya Ginjupalli. “They want to wait until the [results of] the space survey.”
Senators expressed concerns about Duke’s engagement with student groups during their conversation.
“[Student identity groups] feel like they’re in this alone, and they’ve been asking for this space for [decades], so I think the Bryan Center is this one small blip in this long history,” said sophomore Anthony Salgado.
DSG expressed the need to reach out to other organizations to encourage conversations about the spaces available for student identity groups.
“But I think the best thing also is just to like, really clarify the situation, because I'm sure people are spreading a lot of things about it and a lot of secondary [information],” said senior Meghna Mahadevan, vice president of academic affairs.
However, senators acknowledged their position in the conversation about identity groups on campus, placing emphasis on communication between student cultural and identity groups.
“We can point student groups in the right direction, but we don't want to take over. We just want to support these groups that are trying to advocate for space with whatever resources that we can,” said junior and president pro tempore Devan Desai.
Senators also communicated plans for future conversations with Duke administration. Matthew Ralph, a senior and vice president of equity and outreach, described two meetings to be held in the near future. One of the meetings will specifically focus on Bryan Center space issues, while a second will focus on the resolution DSG passed last week, he explained.
In other business
Senators confirmed first-year Andrew Sun as an analyst for the Student Organization Finance Committee.
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DSG approved $2,345.15 for Duke Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Palestine Through Poetry, Language of Liberation” event, as well as $2,763 for Duke University Stand-Up Troupe’s DUST Presents: Swept Away showcase and $3,927.25 for Duke StreetMed’s Winter Showcase.
Senators also chartered Duke Underground Zine Distro, an organization that seeks to spread awareness of zines and provide support for zine content creators on campus.
Kevin D’Arco, Duke’s new Director of Student Involvement, introduced himself to senators and expressed his excitement about engaging with the Duke student body.
Audrey Wang is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.