Change is in the air at Duke. It’s lurking behind the plaster walls around West Union. It’s hidden in the shadows of the newest campus crane. It’s rearing in the new student and administrative faces on campus. Change is afloat, and though it may come with meandering detours and yellow caution tape, the upcoming year promises to be a dynamic time to be a Duke Blue Devil.
Over the summer, campus construction ramped up. Students returning from their three-month summer hiatus will find the main Perkins Library entrance barricaded as renovations continue on the Rubenstein Library, a gaping hole where the shortcut to the Bryan Center Plaza through the Flowers Building once stood and silence in Page Auditorium as a much-needed facelift closes the venue to Awaaz and other campus events. Even where stones have not moved, there will be different names to familiar places. The famed late night grub favorite Pitchfork Provisions, for example, is now called Cafe Edens, and the eyebrow-raising residence hall formerly known as Aycock has been redubbed a more innocuous East Residence Hall.
It is tempting to get mired in the woes of construction. For seniors in particular, the prospect of a cordoned-off campus through their final collegiate year is less than satisfactory. But the short-term inconveniences may yield long-term benefits. New facilities and high-tech offerings, for example, may attract more students, boost Duke’s reputation and elevate the value of a Duke degree.
Change is also happening beyond the twin cranes, stylish as they may be. We are excited to see Duke’s new provost, Sally Kornbluth, carry out her vision for the University as she succeeds Peter Lange. On the other side of the world, Chinese, America and international students will study together at Duke Kunshan University. On campus, bourgeoning academic initiatives like Bass Connections and the Entrepreneurship Certificate will continue to furnish students with new opportunities, and programs like Duke Bikes will improve day-to-day life. And on the field, we look forward to continuing momentum from last year’s dual championship victories in women’s golf and men’s lacrosse across all sports. Perhaps football tenting will catch hold.
Yet in the midst of exciting developments in the upcoming year, there remain some concerns. Take, for example, food on campus. Not only is the culinary variety on campus less than satisfactory, but the ambiguous process by which food venues are selected also leaves room for greater transparency between the administration and the students living those policies. Exorbitant parking prices for inconvenient parking spots raise further questions about the costs of change on the lives of current students.
As the year unfolds and change takes hold, there should be greater emphasis placed on ensuring that the quality of the Duke student experience remains robust and a primary focus. Academically, we are hopeful that the new provost will revamp Curriculum 2000, an initiative that would greatly bolster the student experience. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” There is no escaping the construction pounding and cracking around us, but the new year promises exciting dynamism and change. Do what you can to make the best of it.