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DSG senators hear from academic deans, share project progress

Duke Student Government senators heard from several academic deans about the most frequently applied academic policies and received updates on DSG committee projects at their Wednesday meeting.

During their presentation, academic deans from Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, the Pratt School of Engineering and Duke Kunshan University highlighted their role as advocates for students. 

“The academic dean is not just an enforcer of faculty wishes. We evaluate the impact of faculty policies on the undergraduate student population; that’s part of our job,” Senior Associate Academic Dean Sabrina Thomas told the senators.

Thomas opened the presentation with an overview of policies about Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading and course withdrawal, followed by a discussion of the Short Term Incapacitation Form led by Dean Bruno, an academic dean.

“Often what we are reviewing is what information you’re notating down on the form that relates to your physical or well-being challenge. We want to respect your privacy. We encourage you to defend your privacy. You do not need to overshare,” Bruno said, reminding students to provide private information only when necessary.

The deans noted that faculty are not required to accept Short-Term Incapacitation Forms, especially in the case of extended absences.

Lupita Temiquel-McMillian, assistant dean for student affairs in Pratt, and Liguo Zhang, academic dean for Duke Kunshan University, covered policies for Dean’s Excuses — which a student can secure for a health emergency or bereavement — and a grade of “incomplete” in a class. Trinity Academic Deans Mark Dalhouse and Andrea Marritt-Pabalate highlighted various resources on campus for students, including the Student Disability Access Office, the Academic Resource Center, and Counseling and Psychological Services.

Committee updates

The vice presidents of each standing committee shared updates on their ongoing projects.

Junior Ashley Bae, vice president of Services and Sustainability, shared that the committee is working on projects including sustainable dining and tenting practices, transportation to off-campus wellness services and access to resources for LGBTQ+ students.

Sophomore Zara Thalji, vice president of Equity and Outreach, reported on her committee’s work to collect feedback and propose reforms around the new Experiential Orientation model, advocate for faculty training on diversity and inclusion and publicize resources from the Center for Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention.

Senior Swetha Rajagopal, the former associate vice president of Durham and Community Affairs, discussed the progress on the recently-created Committee on Off-Campus Social Life, a new “Duke-Durham 101” house course, Duke-Durham School Days and the upcoming Durham-Duke festival. Rajagopal also talked about efforts to expand Duke students’ access to public transportation in Durham. 

Rajagopal will be replacing junior Zoe Tishaev, who resigned from her position as vice president of Durham and Community Affairs.

Vice President of Campus Life Shreya Joshi, a junior, spoke on the committee’s plans to expand Duke Vans hours, bring healthier options to vending machines, reform random roommate surveys and institutionalize Democracy Day, among other projects.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jax Nalley, a sophomore, talked about his committee’s work to encourage house course diversity, promote programming for sophomores as part of its What Next? initiative, bring back GRUNCH — Duke-funded lunch with graduate students — and centralize Duke resources.

In other business

DSG senators allocated $7,650 for Duke Association for Business Oriented Women’s holiday party on Dec. 5, $6,200 for Duke Students for Justice in Palestine’s poetry night with Spoken Verb, $3,300 for Phi Beta Sigma’s Step Showcase on Dec. 2 and $4,025.87 for Duke Motorsports’ Go Karting Social on Dec. 3.

The senators confirmed first-year senators Andy Li and Jordan Phillips and junior Rashad Rahman as members of the body’s Internal Affairs Committee. Thalji and Joshi were also confirmed as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Senou Kounouho | Staff Reporter

Senou Kounouho is a Pratt first-year and a staff reporter of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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