Duke Student Government announced major additions to its roster of positions for the 2023-24 school year. But what’s the motivation behind these changes?
DSG added roles to its Senate staff, presidential cabinet and executive vice president operations team to expand the organization’s ability to respond to the student body’s needs.
“The idea here is to engage with spaces that we historically haven’t had an answer for and for us to uplift the work by student organizations that's already occurring,” said DSG President Isaiah Hamilton, a senior.
The new positions on the Senate staff include a new Senate secretary and outreach coordinator, created with the goal of increasing transparency in DSG’s Senate. This accompanies structural changes to the role executive members play in Senate operations.
“[Senior and Executive Vice President Ashley Bae] and I, as president and vice president, elected to not be in Senate anymore to better streamline the separation of powers, as well as to make that space a fully legislative space,” Hamilton said.
The EVP operations team also welcomed a new diversity, equity and inclusion chair and outreach coordinator. Additionally, the team added an extended staff to better publicize the work being done by DSG and increase student involvement.
The DSG cabinet added five new directors, with the purpose of highlighting changing priorities on DSG in the wake of QuadEx and other campus developments. These include the director of mental health and wellness, the director of residential experience and policy, the director of social engagement, the director of space advocacy and the director of educational equity and student success.
Hamilton, working with DSG Chief of Staff Chase Barclay, a senior, and Bae, was instrumental in this year’s changes to the DSG roster. The decision aligns with his stated commitment to targeting previously unaddressed issues at Duke.
“Of course it was inherently collaborative, as [Barclay and Bae are] the direct reports for those positions,” Hamilton said. “However, it was something that I was extremely passionate about, and I had my hands on equally as well.”
The Chronicle spoke with the inaugural holders of these positions to hear about their broader goals for the school year.
Akshay Gokul, a sophomore and the EVP operations team’s DEI chair, emphasized the importance of prioritizing equity in DSG.
“I really want to articulate what are long-term goals we can create, that we can implement … so that they are going to center marginalized voices and make more equitable practices and procedures,” Gokul said.
Jax Nalley, a junior and DSG cabinet’s director of education equity and student success, offered similar objectives for his time in office.
“We wanted to create a position that would essentially give somebody the bandwidth and the opportunity to go after some holistic and long-term advocacy issues,” Nalley said. “... The focus of this position is to do longer term advocacy within the academic affairs space with an equity lens.”
Tara Singh, DSG director of residential experience and policy and a sophomore, hopes to focus on the developing QuadEx system. She hopes to cement the University initiative as a long-standing part of culture and tradition at Duke.
“This role is primarily focused on being the student liaison between the Duke student body and HRL,” Singh said. “So really working on creating new policies to ensure that campus life is inclusive [and] opening QuadEx to student feedback.”
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Bennett Gillespie is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.