“Hey y’all,” is most likely how senior (still can’t believe I’m writing down the word “senior”) Thomas (Tommy) Hessel began some kind of conversation or message that you may have seen. Born and raised in Dallas, TX (actually born in Plano), Tommy enjoys dsg, TA-ing CS 101, rowing, 3D printing, guitar/piano, comma-separated lists, parentheses, and fishing, even though he hasn’t been able to use his fly fishing gear these past few semesters. Tommy’s studies include one week of pre-med classes and another semester of Econ, before he fittingly settled on a Computer Science major with an Energy & Environment certificate and Econ minor. You can find Tommy in WU, Div stacks, LSRC, zoom rooms, and 1st floor Perkins where he is always eager to meet new people (part of the reason he goes by the more approachable: “Tommy”) and chat about anything from books on Bill Gates’ reading list, campus crowdfunding, student spaces, and I.T. resources all the way to Netflix’s Sex Education, anything narrated by David Attenborough, and literally anything on YouTube.
Going into the 2020-2021 school year, I hope to preserve and continue to build community at Duke by acting on feedback from all students. In these unprecedented times, it is imperative that we are still able to engage with our communities and support networks at Duke regardless of the plans for the fall and spring semesters. Specifically, I want to follow through on creating a roundtable discussion with student groups to unpack and act on the complex, unique issues Duke students face every day. I want to follow through on my crowdfunding project’s approval and see it help students receive the necessary funding they need for the year. I want to work with the Women’s Center, Bass Connections Teams, student groups, and other universities to build a peer network to prevent sexual violence and support all those affected (especially in lieu of the changes to Title IX). I want to make DSG more transparent and collaborative with the rest of the student body through social media and group project work. As a student body, our collaborative engagement and support for one another are together some of the reasons that make our community so great. With these incredible traits, I know we can work together to build a better Duke.
Dina is a rising junior from Iraq (and more recently, Michigan) attending Duke as a first-generation, low-income Rubenstein and Questbridge scholar. She is a pre-med student double majoring in Biology and Psychology, and pushes herself to be a hard worker, be determined, and stay resilient as a result of her life experiences- which is also why you will often find her power-walking across campus from one thing to the next (and sometimes tripping over her own feet). Beyond DSG (and studying for the MCAT), Dina practically lives at Wilson gym (She’s getting certified so come to one of her group fitness classes!), works with DUU, does Neurobiology and Pediatric research, enjoys gossiping with her patients at A Helping Hand, helps direct Me Too Monologues, and hopes to create an impact in each of her communities (Baldwin Scholars, Cardea Fellows, Rubenstein Scholars, Questbridge). She also seems to set the fire alarms in Few off a lot, but that’s besides the point. She is really excited to be EVP this year and is very thankful to be given a platform to make real, positive change.
As EVP, I have the opportunity to work on a variety of concerns that fall in different purviews of the University- something I am very enthusiastic about considering the diverse communities and countless issues we see come up on a daily basis. During my campaign, I mentioned that I will have four main goals this year. This first of these includes (1) Furthering engagement in social issues with the creation of an Alternative Spring Break program. I have been working on my Alternative Spring Break program for a while now, and I am happy to say that it is going very well and will be a collaborative effort with Duke’s Spring Breakthrough program, which has agreed to apply the idea of an Alternative Spring Break program within its current programming by increasing service-level engagement in its courses starting with a pilot program focused in Durham and expanding across the nation in upcoming years based on funding and feedback (which I will be helping put in place). My goal has always been to bring students further in touch with each other and other communities because so many students tend to separate based on identity, and I think this program will be a great way to not only do that, but also take students out of the “Duke bubble”. The program is also meant to service low-income students, who can’t always afford Spring Break trips or to even go home. The second goal will be to (2) advocate for minority groups. As I mentioned before, students tend to live in a “bubble” at Duke and often separate into their respective communities instead of communicating, educating, and advocating for one another. This is not sustainable considering the hate and bias our fellow classmates are dealing with and I hope to emphasize DSG support through different initiatives (forums, discussion, hate/bias incident reporting form). The third goal will be to (3) educate and help efforts to prevent sexual harassment and assault, which I plan to do by helping with the SHAPE initiative, and more specifically, SHAPE week itself alongside a committee. Finally, my fourth goal will be more of an internal initiative, in which I hope to (4) bring DSG further in touch with the student body by evolving internal policy. This goal is one I have for similar reasons to the rest. DSG works on projects that are supposed to help the student body, and sometimes that communication is not as effective as it could be, leading to inefficiency. I would like to invite different identity groups to Senate meetings so that senators have an idea of what different groups are doing on campus and can utilize that to aid their own efforts. I also want to help incoming freshmen with their projects by discussing topics that are important and lead them to follow-through.
Devin is a senior from Bozeman, Montana studying Political Science with a certificate in Markets and Management Studies and a (newly added) History minor. When she isn’t reminding people that Montana has things other than mountains and horses, Devin enjoys discussing all things Duke Student Government, why the Office is a legitimately funny TV show, and her multi-category rankings of her four dogs. For the past three years, Devin has worked on the Student Organization Finance Committee but is excited to spend her last year on DSG supporting the Cabinet, Senators, and the Executive Board as Chief of Staff. Outside of DSG, Devin works as a Resident Assistant (and finally moved off of East Campus this year) and is involved in political organizations on campus. When Devin isn’t hanging out in the DSG office, you can find her in the Loop, roaming around East Campus pestering her little sister, or pretending to do homework in Perkins. If you want to discuss all things DSG, why Niall was the best member of One Direction, the merits of niche Youtube, or anything in between, find Devin around campus or send her an email!
As Chief of Staff, I hope to increase transparency with DSG, improve internal organization, and make DSG more accessible to the broader student body. In the past, DSG has struggled with integrating the broader student community into project work and resolutions, often leading to frustration and unrepresentative work. I plan to work with the incoming Cabinet to create collaborative councils across different student organizations on campus to provide student organizations with regular opportunities for collaboration and feedback/perspective on upcoming DSG work. This will ensure DSG is including relevant partners and representing the broader Duke community. Additionally, I plan to work with the current DSG executive board to enhance internal organization to make DSG easier to navigate for senators, DSG members, and the bigger Duke community. Currently, DSG documents, resources, and project updates are difficult to access and inconsistent across committees. I plan to work with Tommy and the Executive Board to enhance the DSG organization system and project update system to make it easier to access for all students on campus to see how DSG is working to assist them. In turn, students will have regular updates to what DSG is working on and can get informed or involved if they choose.
Shrey is a junior from Austin, Texas—all too evident with the number of times he says “y’all” or “yeehaw” or uses the 🤠 emoji—and a proud recovering pre-med to his beloved mother’s dismay. Shrey is studying Public Policy and Computer Science, but his life admittedly revolves around his DSG work. Shrey also loves leading tours on Saturday mornings, overseeing growth and strategy for Duke Impact Investing Group, and working with the WearDuke Bass Connections team. In his free time, Shrey can be found volunteering for FIRST Robotics (a STEM education non-profit), devouring coffee ice cream, chipping away at his private pilot license (someday!), and listening to Hans Zimmer’s magnificent film scores on repeat. On campus, you can spot a wild Shrey in the DSG Office, hidden away in the Rubenstein Library, or impulsively buying his third ABP smoothie of the day. Shrey has made a reluctant self-prognosis of the cholesterol issues he’s going to have later in life, given his motto is “extra cheese, please!”
As the new Vice President of Academic Affairs, I plan on collaborating with various student organizations, identity and affinity groups, DSG peers, and faculty and administrators across our University to work towards a few key priorities. First and foremost: empowering my committee—the Senators of Academic Affairs—in pursuing their project work, as it runs the gamut and covers many bases. Second: addressing broad concerns from underrepresented minorities within the classroom. Initially, this will involve going on a “listening tour” with an open mind – something which DSG, admittedly, does not do nearly enough. Subsequently, we will look critically at the academic experiences of our underrepresented students—given these students often have drastically different experiences than the typical Duke student—and work to level the playing field, not afraid to take on large issues as necessary. Similarly, to achieve this priority, I will support ongoing efforts, such as the initiative on Course Cost Transparency. Third: continuing to advocate for mental health reform and destigmatization. With the inaugural Mental Health Forum and successful launch of the DSG Mental Health Caucus, which brought many relevant student groups together with DSG, it is time to take mental health reform at Duke to the next level, especially with the appointment of a new Dean of Students. Fourth: continuing to work with senior administrators and the Provost’s Office towards three major DSG objectives – a complete overhaul of the undergraduate leave of absence policies; a standardized, egalitarian Syllabus Bank, integrated directly into DukeHub 2.0; and a revamp of the course evaluation software system and policies, shifting to an opt-out system for faculty. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or at (971) 998-6439. I sincerely strive to be accessible to every single Duke student and would love to chat about literally anything, be it DSG related or not!
Waving hello from the tundra is our Campus Life VP, Ramya Ginjupalli. Ramya is a junior (yikes getting old) from West Bloomfield, MI. She is majoring in Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health... and it only took her five major changes to figure it out. In her free time (jk when is she free) she leads tours around campus, volunteers at the children's hospital, and conducts stigma research with DGHI. Outside of all of that you can also find her binge-watching Gossip Girl, Avatar, The Society, you name it she is willing to watch it (at least until quarantine is over) and baking cookies (send recipes ~please~). She also loves exploring new music genres from punk rock to rap to country. At night you can find her on the first floor of Perkins with an Iced Caramel Macchiato talking with everyone to distract herself from studying. Feel free to contact her whenever - she would love to hear from you!
For the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, my priority is to continue building up our campus community. The three main projects I am working on are: 1) Anti-Bias Training, 2) Duke Safe Rides, and 3) OurSpace. Anti-Bias Training: I am hoping to help educate my fellow peers to make club events as open and welcoming as they can be. My goal is to have every student leader on campus go through a form of anti-bias training, including Duke Student Government. Duke Safe Rides: I want to help our students be as safe as they can be both on and off campus, regardless of financial capability. The Duke Safe Rides program will allow students to receive a free Lyft ride once per semester from an off-campus location (including Devine, Shooters, Erwin Road, etc). OurSpace: During these difficult times of social distancing, I believe an app that can tell students how “busy” a building is would be incredibly helpful. I am hoping to work alongside the creators of OurSpace to broadcast this information to the student body. I would also love to take any suggestions you have for Campus Life projects. Feel free to email me!
I am from Miami, and if you listen to me talk for five minutes, I will probably let you know. I speak English, Italian, Spanish, and hope to become polylingual. At home, I speak Spanglish (aka my language of choice). I study Public Policy and History. I am passionate about increasing traditionally under- represented communities’ access and ability to influence public policy. Podcasts are my key sources of information and entertainment in addition to binge-watching documentary series on Netflix. I worked at a local Durham non-profit, Student Action with Farmworkers, where I worked with farmworker youth to empower them to speak up for their parents who may be facing extremely poor working conditions, and to attend college despite the hardships they may face. Also, I am the National Chair of Define American, a storytelling organization that attempts to change the narrative of immigrants in the US. I have engaged in organizing “know your rights” training, undocumented awareness week, lobbying at national and local levels, and creating a media platform to share stories of ALL immigrants. Find me in Hollows 5th floor study room and La Casa submitting law school applications or 2nd Floor WU taking a nap.
I want to make the DRA committee more active and attentive to community needs than it has been in the past. Since the Covid-19 epidemic has drastically affected communities both economically and healthwise, it is imperative to understand the communities needs before advocating for a solution or assisting the community. For this reason, I want to increase student partnerships and communication with the Durham Community Affairs Office and local non-profits. The needs of the Durham community will be different due to the global pandemic and our committee must be aware of them before continuing project work.
The next goal is to continue voting initiatives and partnerships with Duke Polis and Turbovote, especially during a major election year. And again, planning for how to ensure that students vote even if we are not able to return to campus. Also, continue lobbying efforts surrounding Voter ID laws in North Carolina to allow eligible voters to participate.
Finally, I want DRA to propose resolutions that respond to events in the community. For example, in 2018 when ICE raids occurred just outside of East Campus, only EO committee drafted a resolution in response to the raids. DRA should have collaborated with that committee to show solidarity with Durham residents threatened by the attacks as well as students off campus. In essence, DRA needs to be responsive to events occurring in the community and be prepared to urge ‘Big Duke’ to act.
Christina is a junior who grew up baking cookies on her dashboard in Phoenix, Arizona. Majoring in Public Policy and Psychology and minoring in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (she took the classic sharp left turn away from a pathetic attempt at being premed), Christina is passionate about equity, representation, and empowerment. She is also the Program Director of Project BUILD, on the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee of Business Oriented Women, and in Asian Students Association. You can find Christina drinking (spilling) tea while pretending to study in WU or 1st floor Perkins, curating Spotify playlists, picnicking with friends in the gardens, wearing red (or yellow when feeling optimistic), eating Div Caf baked oatmeal, and having existential crises at ungodly hours in Pitch. She also enjoys hiking, reading, doodling, and talking about how she is friends with Zion Williamson and got to ride in his car as a first year.
I believe Duke needs to be more transparent about and reduce barriers that face minority identity groups, LGBTQ+ students, international students, and first generation and/or low income students. This year, I plan to collaborate with other DSG committees and various student groups to 1) address financial accessibility and inclusivity, 2) improve gender violence prevention, education and 3) improve DSG support for affinity groups on campus. I want to address barriers to equity beginning with affordable dining and reducing hidden course costs. With the new Title IX regulations implemented Summer of 2020, Duke must proactively address the flagrant issue of sexual assault on campus and better support affected students. I hope to build better relationships with affinity groups on campus, bridge gaps in representation, and learn how DSG can best support and empower minority students in their goals and prerogatives. Furthermore, I hope to help address inequities resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. I am passionate about making progress at Duke and would love to hear your thoughts about what Equity & Outreach can do or should be doing. Feel free to reach me by email or at 480-658-8816 with suggestions for projects or just to chat!
Traveling a whopping twenty minutes to campus, Zac Johnson comes to Duke from the rural buffer of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a short walk to the famed Maple View Farms. With a childhood so framed by the outdoors and an incredibly diverse family, his passion for both equitable services and sustainability has grown steadily since he was young. When he’s not enjoying the presence of people around him, working at the Duke Human Rights Center, or exploring hidden corners of North Carolina, you’ll find Zac listening to music a bit too loud anywhere on campus and laying in the quad. In his first year, Zac started as a Public Policy major, continued (and ended) his clarinet career in the Duke Wind Symphony, and quickly took up History as a second major and the Human Rights Certificate. He has directed his educational and professional energy towards expanding notions of human rights and access to them, participating in DukeImmerse: Rights and Identities in the Americas as well as the Kenan Pathways of Change Fellowship with Accountability Counsel. Some of his hobbies before and during quarantine include sailing, interior design, and buying too many plants to care for.
For this upcoming year, I hope to be adaptable and creative. Ensuring that the necessary services are offered to students in an equitable manner may require new ways of engaging with administration and the student body, and addressing unsustainable practices might need to be rethought if access to campus is limited. Throughout this year I want to work with the Disability Caucus and the Disability Alliance to bring a high-speed, accurate transcription service to Duke’s Zoom. I want to finish up project work dedicated to consolidating resources for low-income/first-generation students in the How to Not Be Rich at Duke Guide and partner up with other members of DSG to work on a university orientation class. I want to amplify the efforts of my committee, bringing awareness to sustainability efforts around campus and educating the student body on the vast and generous services that Duke provides. Although navigating the bureaucracy of a university can certainly be confusing, I hope to create understandable pathways of communication that highlight all the resources students can use to aid them in whatever circumstances they are experiencing.
Sophomore Drew Flanagan hails from Montclair, NJ (which he claims is basically New York City though his Duke friends from New York disagree) and is excited to join DSG exec after working as SOFC’s Vice-Chair of Programming & Financial Innovation this past year. When he’s not binge watching Money Heist (not sure why they trust him with the cash), eating lemon squares from Vondy (limited first-year food points ended that practice), or listening to country music, Drew can be found hanging around west campus with friends or studying in the library (hot take: he’s more of a Bostock fan). Last year, Drew served as President of Brown House Council – he loves east, but is also eager to explore west campus further. As Chair of the SOFC this year, Drew is looking forward to continuing to support student groups, helping to make their events a reality, and increasing accessibility of undergraduate resources. As a Statistical Science major (surprised he hasn’t mentioned that by this point), Drew is passionate about data science and has been working with other SOFC analysts and Vice-Chairs to review past investments and learn how to more effectively manage Duke’s student fund for the upcoming year.
The 2020-2021 year was already going to be a major one for the SOFC, let alone adapting to the effects of COVID-19.
This summer, the SOFC is building a new website with helpful resources for student leaders, streamlining the funding process with DukeGroups and the UCAE Business & Finance office to assist treasurers, and reforming outdated and ineffective policies as well as increasing auditing initiatives. Our main goal is to eliminate extraneous funding barriers and create a smooth and transparent process that better supports student groups. We want to help campus organizations do what they do best: inspire, share perspectives, and bring together the Duke undergraduate community. We’re incorporating extensive data analysis to fuel our policy changes and investment choices so as to better understand Duke’s student organization financial landscape and make more informed decisions.
With COVID-19 likely changing many of the traditional practices of student groups, the SOFC is working to use the circumstances as an opportunity to innovate. Our analysts and executive team are working to pool resources from around campus to best equip student leaders for whatever tomorrow may bring. Our mission is the heart of our work: to cultivate a sense of belonging among our fellow undergraduates and unconditionally support all voices, passions, and talents within the Blue Devil community.