I’ve found that in light of recent events, I sometimes hesitate to share the fact that I’m a Dukie with strangers.
Just last weekend on my red-eye flight from Atlanta to RDU, my airplane neighbor, 16C, a whiskey drinker who smelled the part, asked me if I was from North Carolina.
“Oh, I just go to school in North Carolina,” I said, scrambling to find my iPod to avoid further late night small talk.
“Well, where in North Carolina do you go to school?” he asked, annoyed at my vagueness. His southern twang rang through and whiskey was hot on his breath.
“Duke,” I said, knowing that this would cause some sort of reaction in my intoxicated seat-mate.
“Ha,” he scoffed. “You must be rich!”
I shuddered, but laughed lightheartedly at his assumption, managing to get one earbud in my ear before he retorted, “What’re you studying, at Dook?”
I sighed. “History and English,” knowing I would get another eye roll.
To my surprise, he laughed again and replied in words that, even as I type them now, make my face hot with fury: “Do you want to be unemployed?”
He paused, then added, “Eh, well I guess you’re rich and some rich person at Duke will just get you a job. Ain’t that how it works over there?”
I’d had it. I went straight into “iPod-land” and left him to his second whiskey and Coke.
Why do people hate Duke? Why do people love to hate everything about Duke? Everything from our curriculum (so what if I study history and English?) to our social scene (that PowerPoint, anyone?) to our basketball team (those Crazies are a little obnoxious)—people don’t discriminate.
What’s worse is that in the last year, there is plenty of literature that supports 16C’s disdain for our school.
The Atlantic’s January issue featured one such article. Caitlin Flanagan, a social critic and former college counselor at a prep school, wrote a piece titled “The Hazards of Duke.” Yes, yes, she’s very clever.
Not only does she ramble about Karen Owen, the lacrosse scandal (hello, that was so 2006) and the culture “centered largely on the getting and spending of money,” but she also makes a bold assumption.
“[S]omething ugly is going on at the university.”
Does she think promiscuous girls only reside at Duke? That privileged kids from prep schools flaunt their money only on West Campus? That sexcapades are limited to the greater Durham area?
Reading her essay made me as angry as 16C had made me on the airplane.
In her rather long-winded article, Flanagan failed to mention any of Duke’s successes, its influential alums or major contributions that Duke repeatedly makes to the community. She totally neglected to mention how the vast majority of Duke students spend their days: working, learning, studying, reading and writing.
If you ask me, Duke has churned out some pretty respectable graduates.
Interested in science? Hans Dehmelt, Robert Richardson and Charles Townes each won the Nobel Prize in Physics. THE Nobel Prize! And what do they all have in common? They all studied at Duke.
Enjoy music? I bet you’ve heard of a recent graduate named Mike Posner. He’s had not just one, but three hits make it on the Billboard Hot 100 list. Not too shabby, if you ask me.
Want to be successful in the business world? Duke grads make up an impressive percentage of top guys at Fortune 500 companies.
And I know if I spent another hour on Google, I could find many more illustrious alums. But you get the point. It’s not a crime to leverage a great education and if you gain notoriety for good deeds done or fortunes made, so be it.
Ah yes, and then there is Duke basketball. Why is there is so much hate out there for Coach K and his boys? The Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise commented on the unnecessary hatred for Krzyzewski in an article last week when he wrote, “[Coach K’s] kids nearly all graduate, [his] program never smells of probation and [his] only major crime is that he wins.”
Wise equates rooting against Duke to rooting against “integrity, loyalty and almost unparalleled success”—oh yeah, and America.
I mean, I’m certainly proud to be a Blue Devil and I hope you are, too, despite all the misplaced contempt out there.
People love to hate. And you know what? I say let ‘em.
Molly Lester is a Trinity senior. Her column runs every other Tuesday.