Ashley Bae focuses EVP campaign on restoring DSG relationships with student groups, amplifying student advocacy

Executive vice president candidate Ashley Bae hopes to demystify Duke Student Government, restore its relationships with student groups and amplify new voices to transform DSG. 

Bae, a junior pursuing a public policy and cultural anthropology double major with a minor in global health, joined DSG as a first-year and has since served as a senator and vice president of the Services and Sustainability Committee, currently serving on DSG’s executive board. This experience has provided Bae with an understanding of the institution’s pitfalls and its potential to remedy them.

Her experience has involved “learning more about the history of DSG — the way it has not served students in the past, the way it has pushed its own agendas and maintained administration relationships rather than advocating for the change that students wanted on this campus,” Bae said. “DSG gets a bad rap for good reason, but I hope that DSG is ready for change.” 

Bae resonates with the EVP role, specifically, because it is more “internally-facing” and would allow her “to change DSG to better serve its students.”

The first of her platform’s pillars — “demystify” — aims to tackle the issue that although most students know what DSG is, many do not understand what it does. Bae hopes that making DSG’s “bureaucracy more digestible” and making its work more known will “empower students to provide feedback and collaborate with DSG.”

Logistically, this transparency could come from regular social media updates and newsletters, a guide that breaks down DSG’s organizational structure, and casual spaces where students could share their thoughts, like town halls. 

“Restore,” her second pillar, is about mending DSG’s relationships with student groups in an individualized manner. She points out DSG’s “general multiculturalism” and its “one size fits all solutions to create equity”; if elected, Bae would create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position within the executive board and reframe DSG’s approach to center personalized connections with each group.

“I think it's time to take ownership for the harm that DSG has caused in the past. I think DSG has been afraid to be political or controversial,” Bae said. “And that has ultimately led to a lot of inaction that has caused a lot of student groups harm.”

“And so I think that comes with personal outreach. And I think it comes with establishing how students want to interact with DSG, if at all, and if they do, creating efficient lines of communication.”

Bae also recognizes the importance of space allocation and funding on student groups’ ability to serve their communities, and thus plans to advocate for the continuation and enforcement of functional affinity spaces, such as in the Bryan Center. She also hopes to create a fund for new student organizations who have yet to receive SOFC recognition — an issue that is personal for Bae because of her experience with KAjok, Duke’s Korean-American affinity group.  

“That is actually a very special space for me, and that actually also inspired the [idea of creating] a fund for budding student groups because we didn't have our fund code for the longest time and it was very financially challenging,” she said. She noted how oftentimes these budding groups rely on members to pay for food and activities out-of-pocket.

Bae values KAjok in providing a space where she has been able to talk about and understand her identity as a Korean-American student, and wants to make it easier for students to create these spaces in the future.

“Students are tired of having to constantly fight their way into saying that we are Duke students, and we are worthy of space, and we are worthy of funding and we are worthy to feel belonging on this campus,” Bae said. “The problem is, as DSG, we are not facilitating that. We are not making this labor easier.” 

The third pillar is “amplify,” which aims to amplify voices beyond those in DSG. 

“There's so many student groups that do incredible activism and advocacy work, the cultural [organizations], to name just a few. And students have amazing ideas that are not part of DSG, and it would be kind of silly to expect that every great mind is within DSG. And so DSG’s responsibility is not to monopolize student advocacy, but to amplify all forms of that,” Bae said.

This amplification may include student group spotlights and newsletter takeovers, as well as a task force consisting of DSG and non-DSG students to introduce new ideas into the organization and avoid its current “echo chamber.” 

Bae hopes to accomplish all of these goals in her platform, but she emphasized that these goals are flexible and may shift based on what she continually learns from students.

“I am here to listen and I am here to make DSG more representative, and that comes with not being attached to my own personal ideas and visions for DSG,” Bae said. “I don't claim to know all the right answers. I just want to be someone that is in a position that is able to create change, but that also prioritizes listening and listening to students specifically.”

First-year Jordan Phillips, who met Bae through the Service Opportunities in Leadership program, wrote that Bae’s “leadership is defined by her willingness to work with, not just for, the people whom she represents.”

Senior Sebin Jeon, who serves on KAjok’s executive board with Bae, described Bae as a “reliable friend and team player who has endlessly demonstrated her compassion and commitment to making Duke a safer and more equitable place for everyone,” Jeon wrote in an email to The Chronicle.

“Not only does she nurture her friendships through a lens of mutual care, but she also approaches her important work as KAjok’s ombudsperson with this mentality of reciprocity and intentionality,” Jeon wrote. “Whether it be the bright smiles and hugs she greets you with upon spotting you on campus or the sincerity she brings to her work, Ashley is someone you can count on to care.” 

Madeleine Berger profile
Madeleine Berger | Editor at Large

Madeleine Berger is a Trinity senior and an editor at large of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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