Duke University Alumni Magazine

We asked fifteen undergraduates:
What impact has Duke Student Government had on your life at Duke?

With the fresh air of springtime comes what some students see as the hot air of Duke Student Government campaigners. The responses were mixed: Some students understood the effect of DSG's work on a daily basis, others said the organization had no impact whatsoever. Many were pleased with the revised financial-aid car policy (by which students on financial aid are allowed to have cars on campus), but greater numbers expressed concern about DSG's management of the tent policy, which applies to students camping out for men's varsity basketball games.

"None of the policies that DSG has made this year have affected me in any way," says Trinity sophomore Rajeev Pandarinath. "You can never tell who is saying what, or what the end result is."

Pandarinath's disenchantment with DSG is not rare. Many students were discouraged by the entire tenting system this year, which lasted for eight weeks and culminated in the lack of space in Cameron Indoor Stadium to accommodate all the tenters for the UNC game. "The power of the line monitors should not be left in the hands of the students," Trinity first-year Nathalie Corredor says. "It leads to too much corruption and cheating."

Still, other students see DSG as an effective body that affects the campus in many positive ways. Trinity first-year Joe Creech is a DSG legislator: "As a member, it affects me in that I know a lot more about what's going on around campus. Knowing that puts you more in touch with the university community and gives you the sense that you can influence the community in ways that most people would not think of."

Engineering junior Neil Berlin finds the theoretic virtues of DSG more appealing than the actual organization. "I think it's good that it is there to be the 'voice of the people,' but they do not do very much."

Trinity senior Lindsay Smith disagrees with that assertion. "I think it definitely has an impact on the morale of students on campus. For the majority of students involved in different organizations, DSG makes a noticeable contribution to the functioning of these groups."

Trinity sophomore Anya Sostek says that, although she may not acknowledge it on a daily basis, DSG does, in fact, have an impact on her life: "Sometimes they're really helpful. Changing the car policy really affects me--it's wonderful."

--compiled by Jaime Levy '01

"You can be in the military and join any hate group as long as you are 'inactive.' I had a swastika on my locker, I had tattoos, I had a copy of Mein Kampf. They were fully aware of my racist beliefs, but you will not find anything in my file about being a racist."
-- Tom Leyden, former member of the Hammer Skin Nation and current representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, speaking in Griffith Film Theater on why he became a skinhead and why he quit "They went home without a check. My only goal was to produce a safe party for the students here in a safe space. I've been taking more heat than anybody because I stepped up and tried to plan an alternative event in the midst of a terrible situation. I now know that foam is a failure."
-- Brandon Busteed, Trinity junior and campus social board chair, of the party and the company that failed to produce a guaranteed three and a half feet of foam in Main Quad after the men's Duke-UNC home basketball game, in The Chronicle "I think the book itself is weird. If I got that manuscript in the mail, I'd be worried about its prospects."
-- author Michael Ondaatje, speaking of the long road to publication of The English Patient, in March as part of the Blackburn Literary Festival "He's a very straight shooter; he is taking this role very seriously."
-- William Van Alstyne on his former constitutional-law student, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr J.D. '73, in the Raleigh News & Observer "This is groundbreaking and very exciting. This code of conduct is going to mean real changes, real improvements in the lives of garment workers. It means that a major institution in our society, a university with all of its moral and political weight, is putting economic pressure on companies to produce apparel under decent conditions."
-- Ginny Coughlin, director of the anti-sweatshop campaign for the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textiles Employees, on Duke's adopting a code that bars licensees from using forced or child labor, requires them to maintain a safe workplace, pay at least the minimum wage, and recognize the right to form unions, in The New York Times "Today I find our public almost indifferent to the problem. I'm almost ready to suggest we ought to thank Saddam Hussein because he keeps our attention on this problem."
-- former CIA director Stansfield Turner in a talk, "National Security Issues and Insights," at The Forest at Duke, on the urgency of cutting back the world's nuclear arsenals

"A lot of people have questioned why the police are here with all their equipment. People are just revolting. They should have let us have [a bonfire] in one spot. Foam from five p.m. to eight p.m. was not going to compensate for a bonfire."
-- Duke Student Government president and Trinity senior Lino Marrero, in a Chronicle article, "Students attempt to ignite fires, meet police resistance," on the aftermath of the campus celebration when Duke defeated Carolina 77-75 in Cameron February 28; Marrero called the late-night, student-police faceoff "the battle between the Duke of old and the new Duke" "I enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate and relish in the victory, but that feeling and spirit did not last very long because of the adversarial nature of the evening. My goal is for people to have fun and celebrate in a safe way, and, in the past, our major challenge has been with fire. Our approach was to eliminate fire, and what resulted was a combative situation."
-- Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Sue Wasiolek '76, M.H.A. '78, LL.M. '93, who was hit with a water balloon via a slingshot from a dorm room, in The Chronicle

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