More like Duke 'Secret Government': Uncovering the truth of DSG

Election season at Duke has come and gone. This past Wednesday, politically engaged students were able to exercise their civic right to vote to cast a ballot in the Duke Student Government (DSG) election for one of two behemoth political parties: Candidate and Write-In. 

Even though democracy has triumphed yet again, many students are still left pondering the age-old question: What does DSG actually do? Monday Monday hears your pleas and delivers on the dedicated yellow journalism you have come to trust. Monday Monday recently sent an anonymous correspondent to infiltrate the DSG Senate in an attempt to retrieve some answers. What follows is their first-hand account from that day.

It was a drab, rainy Wednesday evening, and I, correspondent Wednesday Wednesday, was on a mission. To best grasp the mystery of DSG, I knew I first had to become unrecognizable, invisible. I donned a fake mustache, platform Doc Martens, an athlete backpack, AirPod Maxs and a PikeApp hoodie and became the unidentifiable Duke Student. 

My first challenge was entering the meeting of the senate. As I descended the steps of Old Chemistry 116, I was greeted by two tall, muscular pubpol majors boasting McKinsey quarter zips that were just a bit too tight. They stopped me and looked over a sheet of paper.

"You’re not on the list," they said in unison. 

I nodded and confirmed the horrible, ugly truth: I was not one of their kind.

"You must be mistaken," they said, "No member of the public has ever voluntarily entered a senate session since its founding." There was no mistake: I was stepping where no member of the public had gone before. With some hesitancy, the two guards let me through. 

I entered the room of grandeur and pulled up a chair. It was as if I had taken a seat at the Roman Colosseum, awaiting the great minds below to make a battle of wits to rival that of Socrates, or surely Lincoln and Douglass. Before the meeting even started, senators were warming up their hemming and hawing, stretching their arms to prepare to be the first to vote "yes" on whatever legislation came before them. In the corner, I spotted a team of hard-working students grinding out Canva graphics to put on Instagram. I sat in the back row, thumbs ready to twiddle. 

Finally, a gavel slammed against a podium at the front of the room. "Order!" called the figure behind the podium, a mysterious silhouette shrouded in black robes. "The first item on our agenda is an update from the committee on committee updates. Committee on committee updates, what updates do you have?"

One student, a senator, rose. The shrouded figure pointed their gavel, recognizing the student. 

"I am excited to share that we have made much progress from last year," the student began, "For one, we have increased the number of surveys we have sent out to the student body by 250%!" Thunderous applause broke out across the room.

"Further," the student continued, "The DSG Reform Taskforce has successfully reformed DSG," the student explained. "This year we were able to get a whole referendum passed that changed our constitution!"

"Thank you, senator," said the speaker at the front of the room. "Could you please clarify which reforms passed this year?" 

"I cannot answer that," answered the senator, "For I am just a measly associate vice chair for updates on updates. For that information, you may consult my colleague, the associate vice president on explanation of updates for the committee on committee updates." More applause.

"Thank you, senator," said the speaker, "Unfortunately, the associate vice chair whose title I forgot is not here today, so we will have to move on."

Another student’s hand shot up.

"Speak, senator," said the speaker, recognizing the student.

"Does DSG plan to issue a response to the administration’s shift to a post-matriculation form of merit scholarship disbursement, which threatens socioeconomic diversity at Duke?"

"NO," boomed a voice that seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere, echoing from all corners of the room. The speaker’s gavel came down, and a trap door opened beneath the student’s seat, plunging her into an abyss below. The senate applauded.

"With that, we will move on to funding requests," continued the speaker as normal. "Student Organization Finance Committee please come to the front to be recognized." A student moved to the front of the room and began to click through slides of student organization requests. 

With lightning speed, thousands of dollars were issued for various space reservations, speakers and glowsticks. With each slide, a gavel clap, a "PASS!" and a round of applause. This, I understood, was where power was truly held: in the unanimous approval of Student Organization Finance Committee (SOFC) recommendations. 

I was scribbling faster than my mind could keep up. But by this time, people had begun to take notice of my presence. I noticed students turning and whispering. Finally, one student sitting in the row before me raised his hand and was recognized. 

"I would like to bring to the attention of the speaker that there is an imposter in our midst. Someone … other," said the student before me. A loud gasp. "I move we instate super secret quiet time."

With a blink of an eye, the two McKinsey-clad pubpol majors descended upon me, grabbing my arms and whisking me away. 

"You can’t do this!" I cried, kicking and thrashing. "I registered for this event on DukeGroups!" But it was too late — the gavel came down, and with another "PASS!" I was tossed outside. The doors of Old Chemistry slammed with a thud behind me. 

It seems the workings of DSG remain a closely guarded secret for now. Hopefully, this will change with the next president, as has been promised with every preceding DSG president.

Since the last Senate session, Monday Monday is convinced that they are being followed by pubpol majors in McKinsey quarter zips. If their column doesn’t run in two weeks, you know what happened.


Share and discuss “More like Duke 'Secret Government': Uncovering the truth of DSG” on social media.