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New DukeCard policy violates our student rights

I am outraged by the new policy announced in the Sept. 5 story that denies off-campus students DukeCard access to residential buildings on campus. In particular, Fidelia Thomason's remarks that off-campus students have been rightfully denied DukeCard access to dormitories because "They have chosen to live off campus" and to "not be a part of the residential community," are flagrantly misguided and reveal an utter lack of understanding of the forces that have driven Duke upperclassmen off campus this year.

It is necessary to remind Thomason that sophomores have been granted a monopoly over Main West Campus, which students had traditionally regarded as one of the main highlights of becoming upperclassmen. After the West-Edens Link, which with all its newness still does not compete with the advantages of living on Main West, the housing alternatives (Edens, Trent and, to a lesser extent, Central Campus) are dismal. Who can blame upperclassmen for moving off campus in response to the higher prioritization of sophomores in the housing lottery and the administration's persistent and inflexible attempts to sanitize West Campus of all activities involving alcohol?

Furthermore, it is also necessary to remind Thomason that Duke allows students to live off campus for one of the four undergraduate years. I, along with my fellow students, were unaware that the decision to live off campus would incur the scorn of the housing administration as conveyed in Thompson's statements, not to mention the quasi-disenfranchisement of off-campus students, which is the real effect of this new Duke-Card policy.

I do not live off campus, but many of my friends do. I am appalled that one of these friends recently had to stand in the rain and bang on a window in order to enter a dormitory where one of his friends lives. I am also appalled that off-campus students are being alienated and excluded. Most of all, I am appalled that this policy, like so many others preceding it, only drives students further away from the traditional, formerly vibrant center of campus life, West Campus dorms.

If I weren't abroad this semester, I would actively protest this new DukeCard policy. I only hope that students on campus will protest this infringement on their right to move freely about their campus.


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