When members of the class of 2018 eagerly arrive on East Campus and watch as Freshman Advisory Counselors unload their treasured belongings, they will experience a rush of excitement unlike any other. Innumerable opportunities to form new friendships, mandatory orientation activities and elated introductions to campus will make the transition to Duke seem unexpectedly stress-free.
After the excitement ends and classes begin, however, freshmen may be faced with a distressing reality—that finding their place on campus is more difficult than it first appeared.
Freshmen often arrive at Duke with high expectations. Now that time appears to be more freely available, attaining stellar grades will pose no new difficulties. New friendships made during Orientation Week will almost certainly translate into a pleasant social life, and somewhat-easy access to numerous recreation centers and nutritious meal options will alleviate the burden of maintaining one’s health. Freshmen, however, will soon realize that they are unable to meet these expectations and become disillusioned. It’s a reality oft-experienced—a reality of freshmen distressingly phoning home, wondering if their decision to attend this University was the right one.
Finding one’s place on campus is a difficult, though doing so is undoubtedly aided by various organizations freshmen may participate in once they arrive. These organizations function as a means by which students’ knowledge, skills and passions may be used to better their selves and others—as a means by which they may contribute to campus dialogue and, thereby, affect change. Ultimately, freshmen may ascertain their sense of place on this campus after they attain the ability to use their voice and actions to contribute to, and subsequently enrich, the Duke experience for themselves and others.
In the past, many students have found their place at Duke in a variety of different ways— by advocating for the introduction of gender-neutral housing options so as to improve students’ living situations, by calling for the elimination of the University’s statute of limitations on sexual misconduct in order to ensure that students are properly disciplined for wrongdoings and by rallying together in the aftermath of a controversial gathering in an effort to better students’ social experiences.
Freshmen have many opportunities to enhance the Duke experience and, thereby, arrive at a much-needed sense of belonging. One of these opportunities may be joining The Chronicle. By taking part in The Chronicle, freshmen will not only be able to document efforts to enrich the Duke experience, but contribute to it in a variety of ways as well. Whether it’s by reporting on student leaders’ efforts to rename a residence hall due to its being associated with a prominent figure in the white supremacy movement, contributing an opinion on labor standards at the University’s campus in Kunshan, photographing ongoing campus renovations, blogging about athletic events or reviewing local music festivals, students will be able to inform, and attract attention to, the issues that affect students’ Duke experience.
This collective contribution to the Duke experience ensures that students’ time here will allow them to develop—to grow, to mature—in a variety of different ways.
Editor’s Note: This editorial was written by members of staff rather than The Chronicle’s independent editorial board.