Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan advocates for accessibility to DSG in executive vice president platform

Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan
Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan

Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan, the sole candidate for Duke Student Government executive vice president, aims to improve DSG’s internal structure and build stronger ties with first-year students, student groups and the Durham community.

Shivaramakrishnan, a junior, is the current DSG outreach coordinator. He first joined DSG as a first-year senator and served as an associate vice president of Durham and community affairs his sophomore year. 

Outside of DSG, Shivaramakrishnan is also a campus tour guide and the co-president of both Duke Diya and the Healthy Hands Initiative. He is a global health and public policy major from Concord, North Carolina.

The EVP’s role is to manage how DSG functions internally, including improving the organization’s structure and students' experiences in DSG, Shivaramakrishnan said. As he does so, he hopes to build “more sustainable relationships” with student groups and other organizations on campus. 

Shivaramakrishnan’s platform consists of three main pillars: building a better DSG for first-year and incoming students, student groups, and the organization’s community partners and Durham at large. 

His first pillar aims to improve DSG’s retention rates and its accessibility to the Duke community by making internal documents easily available to people both within and outside DSG, creating an environment that is welcoming of diverse project ideas and improving DSG 101 and the current onboarding process for the organization.

According to Shivaramakrishnan, DSG sessions are currently structured in a way that often confuses students, which “inhibits them from continuing to do the project work and [leads them to] drop.”

Shivaramakrishnan noted that first-years will often arrive at Duke with “a lot of ideas and thoughts on what they want their campus to look like,” but they won’t know the paths they can take to turn these ideas into reality. He hopes to create a clearer pathway for students to enter DSG, something he has worked on extensively throughout his tenure.

“We want to make sure that students, especially students that are really passionate, are able to have this platform as long as possible and continue within DSG,” he said.

As co-president of Duke Diya, Shivaramakrishnan noticed the disconnect between DSG and identity groups on campus, shaping his second pillar to take steps to bridge the disconnect between DSG and identity groups on campus. 

Shivaramakrishnan said he hopes to use his relationships and experiences with student groups to support them to “understand what DSG can do for them and what they don't want DSG to do for them.”

The final pillar of his campaign is to improve DSG’s relationship with Durham and its community partners. 

Shivaramakrishnan plans to leverage his experience as an associate vice president of Durham and community affairs to “integrate practices on how to do principled outreach to Durham organizations within first-year training and DSG work.”

He hopes to achieve this vision of knocking down the “brick walls” that separate Duke and Durham by encouraging DSG members to cultivate relationships with community members and strengthening ties with service and civic-oriented organizations on campus. Shivaramakrishnan specifically hopes to collaborate with organizations like Duke Votes and the office of Durham community affairs, which can help facilitate those connections.

Junior Justice Hatcher has known Shivaramakrishnan since middle school. 

“At Duke, I have watched him meaningfully connect with our peers. I meet somebody new every time I run into him,” Hatcher wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “As DSG Vice President, I know Akhilesh would lead by welcoming people, just as he has always done.”

Alex Espaillat, assistant director of the Center for Multicultural Affairs, has worked with Shivaramakrishnan as his advisor for Duke Diya. She described Shivaramakrishnan as “one of the most capable, hardworking, and real individuals I've ever had the pleasure of working with.” 

“As a person, I'm appreciative of his authenticity and the natural leadership skills he possesses. I confidently believe these traits and more will organically translate to the EVP role,” Espaillet said. 

“I know that there are a lot of people that are very invested in DSG and want it to succeed –– I want to learn from those people,” Shivaramakrishnan said. “I also know that we have a lot of advisors that are on campus, a lot of people that have seen DSG for more than the four years that we see as students and I think I have that willingness to learn from that, and I hope to do that as EVP.”

Ishita Vaid | Associate News Editor

Ishita Vaid is a Trinity sophomore and an associate news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


Share and discuss “Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan advocates for accessibility to DSG in executive vice president platform” on social media.