It’s becoming increasingly obvious. I can deny it NO LONGER: I am a Dukebag.
Every college has its stereotypes. Harvard kids are snooty, Cornell kids are mean, people at Stanford are really good at competitive knot tying. It should come as no surprise that Duke, the likely winner of the superlative “most likely to embarrass itself on a national scale,” is not immune to typecasting. Through its top ten rankings in both academic rigor and in the number of posts on Collegiate ACB per month, Duke students have made a name for themselves: Dukebags. There are certain behaviors and ways of life that are just so painstakingly, undeniably DUKE. With that, I’d like to introduce a new segment I call “You might be a Dukebag if …”
One: Your dream job is telling others how to do their jobs.
If you had asked me what “consulting” was before college, I probably would have told you it was those medical checkups guys have to have where a doctor fingers their butthole. As far as I know, that could still be called consulting. However, I now know there is also an entire business called “consulting” built around being good at running businesses, staffed by college grads with little to no experience running businesses.
When asked why they are interested in consulting, Dukebags will likely first stare at you with a terrified look as if they have never thought of that question before. Then they’ll murmur something under their breath about intellectual challenges, diverse tasks or Mitt Romney. Realizing they have wet themselves, they will conclude that this conversation is in fact not a good investment (providing two or three succinct supporting facts) and will disappear faster than an Obama supporter asked to give an opinion about drones. My theory is that Dukebags react this way because they’re just so excited about the job. They’re exceptionally interested in consulting, of course, purely out of the goodness of their hearts. They get intrinsic, capitalist exuberance out of improving the economy. What else could it be?
Two: You just don’t know if you see this going anywhere.
If there is something Dukebags love, it’s hooking up. Hell, they love it so much they invented a whole culture for it. Duke recruits a specific niche of students who have no fear when confronting complex global problems or a lifetime of ridicule for attending a “douche” school, but are somehow terrified of the idea of romantic relationships. For us, Dukebags, meeting people when we have a BAC below .08 is kind of creepy. We prefer the sensual sloppiness of two sweat-laden bodies banging together in a way only eight shots of tequila could explain. If our inebriated intimacies repeat themselves, or if we bridge into the terrifying territory of sobriety, we, Dukebags, have our formulaic response ready. We like you, but we can’t right now. Our middle school relationship only ended ten years ago, and we’re just not sure we’re READY. The key is to downplay any feelings you might have and to make sure your slampiece (whatever his or her name is) leaves the conversation knowing you have the relational and emotional upper hand. Like everything, relationships are meaningless if you aren’t better at them than someone.
Three: You think you’re really pretty.
Before coming to Duke, I thought there were basically three social statuses: lower class people, upper class people and people related to John F. Kennedy. Yet after three years at Duke, I know that literally anything can be ranked. Not only do Dukebags constantly analyze their social clout; they also subconsciously rank anything they come into contact with, be they floors of the library, types of vegetables or their own nipples. Personally, I’m partial to the left.
Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Other key Dukebag traits include: constantly dressing as if you’re going golfing on a boat, competitive Facebooking, pretending to care about social justice, awkward adoption of the term “y’all”, incapability of accepting personal faults, having an apparent superiority complex over in-state public colleges, using the word “frat” as a verb and being from New Jersey.
Now I know what you’re thinking: How do I become one of these people? Well kids, good news. You don’t have to try. Take it from my experience: You may just wake up and realize you’ve become one.
Yes, I’m a Dukebag. I’ve applied for a consulting job. I’ve been that terrible person who completely disregards the feelings of the other half of a relationship, and I’ve come to expect my feelings to be disregarded. I’ve felt that others are inaccessible to me due to social status, and I have pre-judged people based on their affiliations. And although I know I’ve gained so much from Duke—academically, socially and professionally—I also feel as if Duke’s culture has taken its toll on the person who I was before I came here.
From conversations with friends and strangers alike, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, when discussed, every single person I’ve spoken to has agreed that this Dukebaggy culture—driven by competition and void of emotion and expressed vulnerability—cannot be good for Duke students, now or in the long run. So, fellow reluctant Dukebags, I ask you this: What are we going to do about it?
Lillie Reed is a Trinity senior. Her column is part of the weekly Socialites feature and runs every other Wednesday. Send Lillie a message on Twitter @LillieReed.