As Duke goes through administrative, policy and social changes, the platforms of the Duke Student Government presidential and executive vice presidential candidates reflect many of the same concerns at the forefront of students’ minds.
Here’s how the five candidates’ platforms stack up on issues such as on-campus social life, spaces for marginalized students, and DSG transparency and trust.
Elections will take place on March 1 and 2. The candidates for DSG president are juniors Chase Barclay, Isaiah Hamilton and Robert Sprung. The candidates for executive vice president are juniors Ashley Bae and Brandon Qin.
Inclusivity and on-campus space for marginalized students
All DSG president and EVP candidates made diversity, equity and inclusion reform a part of their platforms, and several have made it a unique pillar in their platforms. In response to the Bryan Center renovations, the candidates hope to establish more spaces for on-campus identity organizations, improve communication with identity groups and amend internal DEI efforts.
According to his platform, Barclay hopes to “advocate tirelessly” for the utilization of and creation of new space for the Center for Multicultural Affairs, the Women’s Center and the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, which was flooded earlier this year.
He also hopes to increase staff for identity and cultural centers. Barclay also pledges to attend the Multicultural Alliance’s meetings and work with the Office of Institutional Equity to more adequately address hate speech. Barclay will also advocate for establishing cultural groups’ own graduation ceremonies and emphasizing existing demands previously made by cultural groups.
Hamilton hopes to use the restoration of the Mary Lou as a chance to welcome “the entire diaspora,” while also advocating for the establishment of National Pan-Hellenic Council plots, according to his platform.
Pointing to the lack of a multicultural center at Duke and “inequitable space allotments for cultural groups,” Hamilton also hopes to establish a multicultural center. Within DSG, he hopes to establish a DEI chair to better connect with student groups and coordinate recruitment.
Sprung notes that the space occupied by the Career Center “must be reclaimed for student groups,” but does not specify if they are identity groups. He would require all DSG and Student Organization Finance Committee applicants to include a diversity statement in their applications, expand internal DEI training and create a Blue Devil Buddies-esque mentorship program for freshmen from underrepresented groups.
Sprung also prioritizes making DSG funding more accessible for identity groups. Like Barclay, he hopes to create liaisons between DSG and identity groups to “more intimately accommodate all questions and funding requests.”
Bae notes that Student Affairs “ambiguously” points to funding issues preventing the establishment of affinity spaces and a multicultural building, according to her campaign Instagram. In response, she hopes to openly distribute the plans for Bryan Center renovations and advocate for “functional programming spaces.” Like Hamilton and Sprung, she calls for instituting a DEI chair in DSG.
According to his campaign Instagram, Qin would advocate for “greater urgency” in installing permanent cultural spaces and using student feedback to guide the Bryan Center’s space allocation. He also hopes to improve dialogue and communication between multicultural and identity groups and DSG, and increase the retention of faculty and student staff who work closely with identity and cultural centers. Like Barclay, Qin will push for affinity group-specific graduations and memorabilia and advocate for existing demands.
DSG transparency and trust
All candidates recognized the need to make DSG more transparent and accessible for the rest of the student population.
Barclay hopes to publish information about DSG projects to continually get feedback during project creation and implementation.
Hamilton also addresses DSG transparency in his campaign by advocating for more publicized and institutionalized office hours and DSG hotlines. He also hopes to communicate more with the student body through town halls, feedback forms and surveys.
Like Hamilton, Sprung hopes to hold recurring presidential open houses and office hours to give students “a seat at the table.” He also would like to make information more accessible by regularly updating DSG resources, such as the website, and creating a “recording bank” of Senate and committee meetings. If elected, he will also push for more op-eds in The Chronicle stating official DSG opinions on “critical campus issues.”
Bae hopes to restructure DSG’s new senator training, known as DSG 101, to teach senators how to collaborate with the rest of the student body, rather than assuming a top-down approach. Like some of the presidential candidates, she hopes to hold regular DSG-related events and keep non-DSG students updated on projects and DSG roles through social media and a newly-created outreach team. She also advocates for a committee of DSG and non-DSG students to audit DSG governing documents to “structurally make DSG a listening body.”
Qin plans to provide internal mentorship and standardized training for new senators and initiate pulse checks for committees and senators. He also hopes to expand accountability for projects and encourage student groups to take advantage of DSG resources.
On-campus social life and community
Hamilton wishes to use the unused space in Central Campus for social programming under the larger goal of making student engagement more accessible, “mak[ing] Duke feel more like a true community.”
Barclay hopes to work with SLGs to integrate them into campus social life. Like Hamilton, he hopes to reinvigorate Central Campus, while also using it as a way to provide more accessible parking and hosting more campus-wide events.
As Crowell’s Quad Council president, Sprung dedicates two sections of his platform exclusively to QuadEx and Central Campus reforms. He believes that Central Campus ought to be rentable for Greek Life organizations and SLGs, which would be a “win-win” for student safety and efficient use of empty space on Central Campus.
He hopes to create “mid-level housing communities,” believing that Quads are too large for students to “associate intimately” with most Quad members, resulting in “disjointed communities.” He also believes in reworking the school’s alcohol policy to allow students to buy from the “most economically efficient vendor,” noting that Duke affiliates are more expensive to purchase from.
Bae looks to host events such as town halls and casual DSG-hosted socials in order to make DSG more accessible.
Qin hopes for a “consolidated Duke identity” through programming, such as collaborating with the Duke University Union and creating a Duke spirit team for football games. He calls for “greater student autonomy” to organize social events. Like the presidential candidates, he wishes to bring social programming to Central Campus.
Curriculum and academic calendar
Hamilton and Barclay call for academic reform. Barclay plans to institutionalize the Duke Syllabus Bank, a DSG project that seeks to maintain a repository of all departments’ syllabi. Along with Sprung, he advocates for expanding library hours with a goal of 24/7 availability. Barclay also calls for having virtual classes in the two days leading up to Thanksgiving break.
Hamilton prioritizes creating a more inclusive curriculum. For this effort, he calls for strengthening “existing programs that promote diversity and inclusion,” promoting hiring Indigenous professors, and creating new programs such as Indigenous Studies. He also advocates for accommodating a wider range of religious holidays in the academic calendar.
Campus health and wellness resources
Many candidates advocate for highlighting available health and wellness resources on campus. Barclay, for instance, wants to conduct another Student Experience Survey to gauge the prevalence of sexual assault and discrimination on campus. He also calls for increasing Counseling and Psychological Services’ transparency and availability.
Hamilton also advocates for increased transparency, including publicizing mental health resources by creating a “one stop shop website.” His platform calls attention to a lack of physical space for the Center for Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention, and calls for working with DuWell and student groups to create such a space.
Qin calls for uplifting and connecting SHAPE to DSG senators, directing more resources and efforts toward the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, and establishing gender violence intervention specialists for social groups.
Transportation and accessibility
All three presidential candidates recognize a need to increase transportation and accessibility infrastructure. Barclay hopes to expand Duke Vans availability, reinstate the Swift Express stop at Blue Light, support walkability and eco-friendly transportation, and improve lighting across campus.
Hamilton plans to support rideshare pilot programs to “provide alternative options for transportation” and hopes to promote safer transportation such as “emergency response options.”
Sprung advocates for bringing back the C1 Express bus route. He also calls for increasing the number of C1 buses during “high-volume times.” Along with Barclay, Sprung also wants to improve accessibility to scooter services.
Unique platform points
Barclay is the only candidate to propose institutional accommodations for Duke Kunshan University students, including creating a DSG cabinet position for a DKU representative, improving career resources for DKU students, and proving a “student-led orientation with the committees of DSG” to introduce DKU students to campus.
He also advocates for reversing some recent institutional changes, including reinstating the Student Organization Finance Committee chair as a member of the DSG executive board and separating GVPI from CAPS after the University integrated the two centers this academic year.
His platform is also unique in its focus on connecting Duke and Durham, calling for a bus route that stops in downtown Durham on weekends, partner with local small businesses, and “enhance students’ academic understanding of Durham” through course offerings.
Hamilton is the only candidate to dedicate a prong of his platform for mental health resources for students with a history of eating disorders. He also is unique in his advocacy to create peer support groups for individuals dealing with addiction issues.
Additionally, Hamilton is the only candidate to highlight a lack of healthy and late-night food options on campus.
Sprung is the only DSG presidential candidate whose platform explicitly mentions the Engineering Student Government and Pratt students. ESG has endorsed Barclay.
Sprung also highlights food point affordability, calling on DSG to be at the “forefront of advocacy” to ease the “food point burden.” Sprung is also the only candidate to raise the issue of club sports’ recent funding cuts.
Bae is unique in her plan to offer email “newsletter takeovers” for interested student groups and increase non-DSG representation in existing committees where membership is typically dominated by DSG members. She also wants to create a task force to audit DSG governing documents.
Qin’s platform also highlights ESG, hoping to create a “longstanding relationship” between DSG and ESG. He calls for creating a “meaningful social community” for senators.
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Anisha Reddy is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Audrey Wang is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 119th volume.