Were you one of the hundreds of screaming fans who saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Have you ever been to the Duke Coffeehouse or Jazz @ the Mary Lou? Have you participated in a glorious sing-along at the Griffith Film Theatre? Raged at LDOC? All of these wonderful things (and more) have one major thing in common: Duke University Union (DUU). And the fellow who leads this massive umbrella organization of 14 student-ran committees is none other than senior Nathan Nye. A North Carolina native studying English with a strong interest in politics and gender parity, Nathan is extremely aware and involved in a large number of student life activities and events. Not only does he oversee DUU, but also he is the Co-editor of Latent Image and a part of Duke’s Gender Violence Prevention Task Force, Round Table Selective Living Group, and Team Kenan. Here, he shares how his interest in DUU developed and the perks of his presidential role.
1. Can you explain a few things that DUU does in terms of events and student programming?
Duke University Union is the student-run programming and media hub of Duke's campus. With 14 active committees, we have constant outlets for students to engage with, such as Duke Student Broadcasting or WXDU, and then we have larger events like a Speakers & Stage show or LDOC.
2. How did you get involved in DUU?
It was completely on accident! I wanted to join the Joe College Day committee and accidentally applied to be the committee chair. Appropriately, I was not their first choice, but after the chosen member decided to study abroad, I was the backup option. Afterwards I got really involved in many different committees and I never left.
3. What are your responsibilities as president of DUU?
I jokingly describe my job as babysitting. My role is to make sure that everything goes according to plan, and that no one decides to do anything too crazy. Fortunately, I have a great Executive Board, so I get to focus on larger structural issues and finding ways to improve the Union. Externally, I represent the student programming side of student life on many different committees outside of the Union. But to me, the most important part of my job is making sure that all Duke students can feel connected to the programming we're doing.
4. The last big DUU event I heard about was the presentation given by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. What is it like being able to meet cool celebrities like that?
It's definitely a perk of putting on big shows. You put in a ton of hard work to bring these big names to campus, so it's nice to get the chance to shake their hand. Honestly, the more rewarding part of celebrity visits, though, is seeing other students get excited.
5. What do you like most about working with DUU? What is the hardest part?
The best part of my job is seeing the concrete products of our work. I'm a really pragmatic person, and I don't work well with theoretical things, which is why I love the Union so much. The conversations and planning are very anchored in the real world, and so you get the joy of creating an event, show, or exhibit.
What's more difficult is communicating what we do to the entire student body. Most Duke students interact with DUU regularly, but don't know it. Through Freewater Presentations, the Coffeehouse, or a Major Attractions show, most students enjoy the work that DUU does. However, because we're so broad and varied, it's hard to let everyone know that all our committees are connected.