New, Regional Engagements

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Save Durham. The two words alone could serve as a slogan for some campaign as it is often the foundation of much discourse about the City. As I walk around campus and engage in dialogue about the city with many of my peers, I often hear, in some form, the idea that Durham is a place that is to be utilized for community service and volunteer efforts.

Duke Student Government and the Durham and Regional Affairs Committee have taken a “service-off” approach to our interactions with the Durham community.  While service is important, the impact that Duke students can have on its immediate community through political means is equally significant.  This summer, we began our efforts working with local City offices to ensure that Duke would have an on-campus early voting site, worked with officials on noise ordinance policies affecting Duke students, and led efforts with a local neighborhood association popular for off-campus housing. These efforts were largely successful and helped highlight Duke students’ connection with Durham in a way not always visible by many locals outside of the schools in which we frequently tutor and shelters we often serve.

I am not confident that Durham needs to be saved from anything or anyone. Durham must be enhanced by our ideas, opinions, and ability as youth to create change wherever we are. When these serve at the forefront of larger community discourses, are reflected in the work of local government officials, and remain visible to those local residents with whom Duke students come in contact daily, Duke students become change-agents in a much more meaningful way. For us, it’s about a lasting connection and relationship more than a temporary giveaway.

Derek Rhodes
Vice President, Duke Student Government
Durham & Regional Affairs
 

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