News: March 7, 2016

Jamal Edwards elected undergraduate Young Trustee

From The Duke Chronicle

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Senior Jamal Edwards was selected by the student body as Duke’s next undergraduate Young Trustee.

Senior Jamal Edwards was elected undergraduate Young Trustee Wednesday.

Edwards won the election with 2,302 votes, senior Max Schreiber came in second with 622 votes and senior Wills Rooney came in third with 528 votes, wrote senior Robin Zhang, Duke Student Government attorney general, in an email Wednesday.

Edwards is a Robertson scholar majoring in global health at Duke and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the former president of the Black Student Alliance, a member of Dukes and Duchesses, a student ambassador group for the Office of the University President and was one of 10 undergraduate students in the nation named a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow last year.

“I’m very overwhelmed with how much support that was shown throughout the election,” Edwards said.

The election saw significantly higher voter turnout than previous years. Edwards attained just 180 fewer votes than the total number of voters in the election last year. In this year’s race, 3,452 students cast ballots, meaning 53 percent of the total undergraduate population participated in the election— a substantial uptick from last year’s 38 percent turnout. Zhang said that DSG was “extremely excited” about the increased voter turnout.

Zhang called the election “unusual” because its winner captured such a large proportion of the vote. Because Edwards earned the majority of the votes, there was no need for tallying through instant runoff and the results were available immediately post-election, Zhang said.

Edwards said he enjoyed meeting with student groups across campus during his two-week campaign. He captured all six endorsements authored by student organizations published in The Chronicle and garnered four others published on Facebook.

In his campaign, Edwards emphasized his wide range of experience and vision for the University’s future. He wrote in an email to The Chronicle Feb. 1 that he “wants to give it back and pay it forward by serving the University at large.”

“I see the role as an opportunity to be a trusted steward of the University and after embedding myself in so many different communities on campus, I know I have what it takes to help make Duke’s best, better,” Edwards wrote.

Edwards’ four areas of focus during the campaign included access and equity, diversity and inclusivity, sexual assault and gender-based violence and institutional advancement.

His original website did not elaborate on these points, although it was updated Monday to include more specific information on each area.

He explained that he had left his positions on specific issues vague because of the way that the Young Trustee role was outlined by Richard Ridell, vice president and university secretary, who advised candidates not to advance stances on issues during this year’s election.

Edwards will serve a two-year term, his first year as a non-voting member.

Schreiber and Rooney both said they were thankful for the opportunity to connect with students through the experience of running their campaigns.

“There’s no better opportunity than being on the Board of Trustees and really having the vision to lead Duke,” Schreiber said. “Jamal earned the right to do that and I wish him all the best.”

Rooney noted he thought Edwards is well-prepared for serving on the Board.

“He’ll do a great job, he’s got a wide range of experiences on campus, and clearly the student body believes he’s the right guy for this position,” Rooney wrote in an email. “That showed in the vote.”

Schreiber said he hopes to get on the Board in the future and further contribute to the University.

“I’d love to get on the Board the easy way, which is hopefully strike rich, make some money, donate for Duke in Jerusalem and then join the Board the easy way down the road,” Schreiber said jokingly.

Edwards also said that he learned from his opponents in the race.

“[Schreiber and Rooney] are both great and have reached out giving support… I definitely learned a lot from both of them,” Edwards said.

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