Duke Student Government presidential candidate Drew Flanagan plans to transform Duke into a community where all students feel like they have a place on campus.
“We have a real opportunity here to make [Duke] so that it’s a place where we all better belong—where we have more community building,” said Flanagan, a junior and statistical science major.
The Montclair, N.J. native has been the Student Organization Finance Committee chair for two years, where he works with nearly 400 different student organizations, manages $2 million in funds and leads a 23-person student board. He has made the committee decision process more transparent and founded the Durham Outings Program, which provides funding for students to visit local businesses.
“It’s easy to have money thrown around, and those that typically have the knowledge of how to use it, access it and benefit from it,” Flanagan said about the SOFC fund. He has met with student groups in efforts to “explain how the process works and make it more inviting, so that all Duke students can better access it.”
If elected, Flanagan said that the first thing he would do is set up meetings with the student groups he’s worked with as SOFC. He said he’s running on the fact that “they don’t feel like they’ve been heard in DSG,” adding that student groups are “the bones of the Duke community.”
One of Flanagan’s first leadership experiences at Duke was serving as House Council president of Brown dorm, where he lived as a first-year. He helped coordinate programming for Brown residents, including a service trip and bringing in members from campus organizations to talk about their experiences.
“I think that was sort of a first spark in that I could have some good ideas and help sort of [bring people together], even if they’re random people I just met a month ago, to really make us all have a better experience at Duke,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan’s platform includes five pillars: academic experience, social culture, campus resources, “Duke, Durham, & DKU” and reform in DSG. Each pillar is slightly modeled off existing DSG committees.
He noted that he aimed to make his platform items “achievable,” “specific and very practical,” but also “things that [he has] already had conversations with administrators about who would be excited to partner on.”
The “social culture” pillar, for instance, would relax alcohol policies, encouraging students to socialize on campus more. Flanagan said he has been in discussion with administrators about this and has “had a lot of receptiveness … because they want the same thing.”
“I think we are all a better community when events happen on campus,” Flanagan said. “And we’re all safer when [there are], not events that are really far off-campus [which] not only makes our community more disjointed, but it also makes us less safe.”
One issue under the “campus resources'' pillar that Flanagan’s campaign plans to address is increasing the number of food points first-year students have on their food plan. First-years, particularly those on financial aid, will be able to explore more options for breakfast and dinner at the Brodhead Center rather than being confined to Marketplace, according to his campaign website.
Flanagan said that in achieving the goals on his platform, “half the battle is knowing who the right person to contact is.” He said that he’s seen “DSG projects get tossed from one department to another, because they don’t have the vision of who to reach out to. So I would first know who to reach out to … And if I didn’t, I would know who to ask.”
He also hopes to use Instagram as a tool for transparency and accountability for students.
“That way, people feel like we’re doing stuff and they know that we’re doing stuff,” he explained. “… If something doesn’t happen, they know the steps we took and who we reached out to.”
Senior Hadeel Hamoud, former president of Juhood Magazine, first met Flanagan at his SOFC office hours to ask questions about funding for printing the magazine. Flanagan helped Hamoud ensure that the organization would receive the funding resources it needed and then built on Hamoud’s questions to create a funding system that accommodates the needs of all on-campus groups.
“I’ve never met someone who’s more effectively used the power and responsibilities given to them to listen to, advocate for, and address students’ needs than [Flanagan],” Hamoud wrote. “Watching [Flanagan] dedicate himself to empowering and improving our community has been awe-inspiring. [He] will truly build better belonging on this campus.”
Aaron Lash Jr., the residence coordinator for Brown dorm, wrote that when Flanagan expressed interest in running for House Council president, he "knew then that [Flanagan] would be dedicated to enhancing student life as best as he could" throughout his time at Duke.
"The past two years have required adaptability from everyone due to the impact of COVID-19, but it has not decreased Drew's passion for displaying servant leadership," Lash wrote.
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