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Question and Answer: Lincoln Quang Duong runs on one-man ticket for SGA President

(Photo courtesy of Lincoln Quang Duong)

Student Government Association presidential candidate Lincoln Quang Duong is hoping to bring his diverse background and previous SGA experience to the position. Duong is a junior economics and political science double major from Vietnam. He previously lived in Russia and this marks his sixth year living in the United States. Duong is running his campaign without a vice presidential candidate, but he is looking forward to working with his campaign team leading up to the election.

Here is the transcript of the question-and-answer interview with Duong in preparation for the debate Sunday from 6-8 p.m. in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall.

What are you currently involved with on campus besides SGA?

Lincoln Quang Duong: “I am in the finance committee in the Student Government Association. I am a peer mentor in James [Hall]. I am in Theta Chi [fraternity] and am the Chapter Scholar in charge of raising the GPA of the whole chapter, and I am in the International Relations Club.”

What do you like about your other opponents?

LQD: “I think that Anthony and Lily have good experience of getting involved in SGA. I actually remember our freshman year: Anthony and I ran as senators together, so they definitely have a lot of experience. And the other candidates, Timothy and Nathalie, I think they have a really good platform and great ideas for this campus.”

What has your experience been like campaigning for the position?

LQD: “Campaigning for the position is- actually I did not expect it to be this exciting because I am meeting so many people and talking to them about ideas that they want to implement on this campus and what they can help me with. Gathering my campaign team was really exciting for me and contacting different groups of people around this campus as well.”

Who have you been reaching out to and what types of tools, digital or social media, have you been using?

LQD:Well, I have my bike here, so whenever I encounter anyone who is interested in helping with me, I just go straight to them and talk to them. Other means I use are Facebook first, text message and through word of mouth of my friends.”

What do you think you have that your opponents lack?

LQD: “I think that I am a really well-rounded person. Like I said, I have lived Vietnam. I lived in Russia, and actually last semester I was in Switzerland, and I am fluent in Russian, Vietnamese, English, and I learned Chinese and French for a while. I think I have a diverse background and can bring on my staff different people from different backgrounds to have a better perspective for this campus.”

What projects and ideas do you hope to implement in office?

LQD: “As a president, the first thing that I would like to do is create a UMass events app. So, for example, right now you are sitting here. Let’s say we don’t have anything to do. I go to the application and see it is 1:10 p.m. You can see, say, that soccer club is doing something. Ballroom dance is doing something right now. Swimming club is doing something right now. So I want students to have this comprehensive, user-friendly application with all the events on this campus that they can easily go to. I believe there are hundreds and thousands of events on this campus that we are not aware are happening. The second one is I want to make SGA more transparent about policies and information, because if you go on the website, you do not know what the senator said today or how much of a budget we are giving to different groups of students. The third one that I would like to do is, from my background living in different places and meeting diverse people, I want to promote diversity and support the rights of minorities and marginalized groups of people. I believe in personal stories. Everyone has his or her own personal story that I as a person or a certain friend can learn a lot from and share that experience and grow together. I believe that working with different organizations like the Stonewall Center or Center for Counseling and Psychological Health or other organizations on this campus, we can promote diversity and support different groups of people. One more point is sustainability. So last semester when I was in Switzerland, I worked at the international center for trade and sustainable development. Switzerland is mesmerizing. It is beautiful. You would never imagine how beautiful it is, but the thing that surprised me was how much people care about sustainability. When I first got to Geneva, the city where I lived, I saw a lake. Let’s say the UMass pond. You can see the bottom of the lake. It was crystal clear. You would wonder why that is. Then you recognize how much people care about sustainability …  On this campus we can make small changes like increasing the bike-share program or decreasing the wasted food in the dining halls to promote sustainability on this campus. The last thing that I think is most important is giving back to the community, because as a person who is involved in Greek Life, we have been giving back to the community through philanthropy or other community projects. We volunteer at the Amherst Survival Center every Tuesday, or sometimes we volunteer to clean up the streets or if the library needs help, and I realized the SGA doesn’t have those kinds of projects to be an example for other students. Our school doesn’t require for students to do those things. Those are the projects that I want to work on.”

With the community service projects, would you want to be making a separate group within the SGA?

LQD: “I was thinking of having a separate secretary of community service to promote community service in SGA and with other students in groups on campus.”

How did you make the decision to run without a partner? How do you think this is a strength and a weakness for you?

LQD:I offered a few people the position of vice president, but a lot of them have other commitments. They are graduating or applying for graduate school. I think they are really qualified candidates, but because of their other commitments, they could not commit to this position. There is a weakness in terms of not having a VP right now, because I would have to do everything by myself. But on the other hand, the great strength is that I can appeal to people with my personal charisma and also work on the platform by myself with the campaign team that I have. I am still looking for the VP that will complement my weaknesses.”

If you were elected, how would you seek out a VP?

LQD: “I would reach out to different groups and organizations on this campus and see if the candidate has been involved on this campus and how their perspective would complement my weaknesses.”

How do you think your academic studies and various activities you talked about will assist you in the position?

LQD: “For me, a leader has to be well-rounded. There is no definition for an economist or a politician, but for me, a leader is the one who is a philosopher, a mathematician and an economist, because he has to have broad knowledge of everything so he can make the right judgements and the right decisions. At UMass, I think the University is one of the best public schools in the entire North East because they offer a wide range of classes that you can take. I took news literacy on this campus. I’m taking philosophy right now. I’ve taken Chinese. I took French, math, economics classes and political science classes. We give students this broad knowledge of everything that can help them in making the decisions.”

What are some challenges you see in the future with the position?

LQD:The position of president is a lot of time and commitment and a lot of issues that you do not anticipate. I think the first issue would be gathering the cabinet team. Once the initial step is over with, I’m excited to get the ball rolling on my different ideas and making some positive change on this campus.”

Do you have any concerns for the amount of time it may take you to train for the position, given that you win?

LQD: “Because I was in the senate my freshman year and now I am in the senate again, I don’t think the transition would take that much time and effort, because when I was in Switzerland, I worked at the International Center for Trade and I had to outreach and contact a lot of diplomats around the area. At first I was a junior associate and I was not sure how it would work out, but you go in with all the knowledge and the confidence and everything you have and just work harder. I do not think it is a problem of transitioning. It is who you are, what you have done and how competent you are.”

How do you see your platform differing from other candidate’s platforms?

LQD: “The first difference is giving back to the community. I don’t think the candidates or the candidates before this ever mentioned about giving back, and creating an app for the whole UMass community. I don’t think any other candidates ever mentioned something like that too. Sustainability, well a lot of students, a lot of candidates mentioned it, but they do not have the actual experience of working on policies regarding sustainable development, but I had that when I was working in Switzerland. Those are the differences I see for myself.”

Editor’s Note: As of March 1, Lincoln Quang Duong chose Southwest Residential Area Governor James Spencer as his vice presidential running mate.

Carson McGrath can be reached at cmcgrath@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @McgrathCarson.

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