If elected as Duke Student Government’s next executive vice president, Brandon Qin hopes to amplify the voices of cultural and identity groups on campus.
Qin, a junior studying biology with a minor in computer science and a certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship, became involved in student government in high school. Entering his first year at Duke, he wanted to find more tangible ways to help the student body.
Now, having served as a senator for the past three years, including substantial involvement with the Campus Life Committee, Qin has found his breadth of roles to be “one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences.”
Outside of his work in student government, Qin is also part of the Project Build executive board, the community-service based pre-orientation program, a tour guide, a member of Duke Cru and a member of the Athletic Council University Committee.
Qin feels that his work in Campus Life has given him a unique perspective on the student experience crucial to serving his community and a glimpse into the inner procedural workings of DSG.
“Campus Life has really made me realize how lucky I am to be part of so many unique experiences, and it really plugs me into the life and experience of a Duke student,” Qin said.
Qin hopes that his time as a senator and working on projects has given him a realistic view of how student government goals are accomplished and how to succeed.
“I feel like when I combine these things, I can find the intersection of having a strong understanding of the internal logistics of DSG, as well as just having a broader understanding of what life is at Duke,” Qin said.
As someone whose connection and love for student life at Duke runs deep, Qin has focused his goals on supporting existing student groups and social scenes, while also keeping DSG internally accountable. The first of his many goals as prospective EVP includes cultivating and supporting existing cultural communities on campus.
“I believe that the identity and cultural centers at Duke represent the beating heart of our campus, and I have a lot of focus on amplifying the work that has already been done by our student groups,” Qin said.
Qin hopes to facilitate an open dialogue and establish clear lines of communication with multicultural groups to prioritize their needs. He also aims to increase the retention rate of administration, student workers and faculty that work closely with identity and cultural centers.
To Qin, “establishing permanent and sufficient spaces that really support our student groups” is a priority, especially as the reshuffling of the Bryan Center has displaced many such communities.
Beyond helping identity groups find permanent spaces to work in, Qin hopes to respect the unique cultural traditions of students from a variety of backgrounds by providing graduation ceremonies tailored specifically to affinity groups to “highlight their special involvement.”
“There are unique backgrounds and perspectives,” and he wants “to really celebrate that here on campus,” Qin said.
The second part of Qin’s platform aims to reinvigorate on-campus social scenes. To him, this means working with administration to transform Central Campus into a place to host social events and extrapolating off Duke’s basketball culture into other areas of social life on campus.
“We say as a joke all the time, ‘Can Duke be a football school?’ And I really believe we can,” Qin said. “I really want to extrapolate and transcend that beyond basketball just to encompass Duke as a whole, celebrate our athletics and celebrate the unique aspects of Duke life. I want to see that sort of culture really take off.”
Qin believes supporting social scenes on campus also means enabling student safety by advocating to administration for student groups like the Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education club.
“I really believe [SHAPE does] a strong job and has a strong understanding of the work they do, and I want to just plug them into resources that we can better support them with,” Qin said.
Qin hopes to direct more resources and efforts to the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity to emphasize such places “as a safe space on campus for LGBTQ+ students,” in addition to providing support for gender violence intervention specialists at Duke Counseling and Psychological Services and staff at the Women’s Center.
The final part of Qin’s platform focuses on internal DSG reform, specifically in building a stronger and more efficient government. He hopes to support first-years entering DSG through an educational onboarding process and constant mentorship from older senators. Qin also hopes to bring more community-bonding efforts into the DSG community.
Creating open lines of communication to increase transparency between DSG and groups like Engineering Student Government is a priority for Qin, along with keeping DSG accountable in the projects they work on.
“I want to attain this by making sure our senators demonstrate student buy-in and interest prior to some of our projects,” Qin said. “And so I want to really increase the quality of our projects as opposed to the quantity.”
Junior Sara Be, a close friend of Qin, described him as “others-focused.”
“As a friend, he isn’t just there for you when you need it, but also just in day-to-day life. He shows genuine compassion for others, no matter their background, and is always open to forming new relationships.”
Grace Zirkle, associate director of New Student and Family Programs, has worked with Qin on the Blue Devil Buddies program and collaborated with him as he is on the executive board for Project Build. She described him as a “warm, professional and considerate.”
“The work I’ve witnessed reveals an enthusiasm for leading and serving Duke as well as a high level of commitment to the roles he fills,” Zirkle wrote. “I’ve also been struck that through our interactions he expresses an appreciation for collaboration and partnership, knowing that the support of others and each other makes our work more impactful and easier.”
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Ishani Raha is a Pratt junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.