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Christmas wish list

aThat Christoph Guttentag admits some zany kids into Duke this year. We have more than our quota of amiable high achievers and are sorely in need of some charismatic nutjobs to shake things up.

That we start to acknowledge the very real liberal bias in our classrooms and take corrective action. Like it or not, a teacher’s political orientation matters a great deal in the humanities and social sciences, and it is intellectually dishonest to suggest they can entirely remove their liberal goggles during class time. To increase political diversity, political orientation should be incorporated into the faculty search process on an ad hoc basis like race or gender.

That the busted busts in the Allen Building and Biddle are replaced, sparing the subjects’ families further embarrassment. How much can it cost to hire a decent sculptor?

That the Baldwin Scholars program is a huge success.

That Eddie Hull watches the movie Old School over break, followed by a 30-minute reflection period.

That students—especially some of my fellow Chronicle columnists—stop spouting over-the-top universal praise for low-level Duke employees and chastising their peers for not doing so. Some employees do a great job; they deserve great praise. Some do a mediocre or poor job; they deserve respect but no more praise than you would give a similarly ineffective senior administrator or professor. It is patronizing and ignorant to say that every single housekeeper and bus driver does a great job, and such an attitude passively disrespects those employees who actually do great work. So please get off the soap box.

That DSG gets the props it is due for an outstanding semester. I even had to shelve the column I wrote this summer about DSG’s pointlessness, due in large part to the energetic leadership of Pasha Majdi.

That students and administrators realize that we have more than one student leader and pay more attention to people like Pasha and Jared Fish. That is no knock on everyone’s favorite leadership warhorse, who is doing a tremendous job as always.

That Duke does not lower its admission standards for football players any further. It is right to accept a mediocre program whilst retaining our academic prestige.

That Tallman Trask stays at Duke for a long, long time.

That students, faculty and administrators stop reflexively slamming The Chronicle. No, you weren’t misquoted, and no, you couldn’t do better.

That the “The Jews” debacle does not cause the stifling of important debates about race, ethnicity and religion.

That RLHS moves to large living blocks of up to 30 members in lieu of the failing quad model. This would allow the best parts of the first-year social experience to continue on West Campus, with many students choosing to block with other members of their dorms. Furthermore, a large block living group model is much more tenable for Duke than a quad model given our history, campus layout, the implausibility of building genuine unity within a quad and the heterogeneous mores of students.

That RLHS stops treating the sparsely attended, utterly ineffectual Quad Councils as viable core programming bodies and instead permits an ascendance of existing and new living groups as programming bodies.

That every student makes a New Year's resolution to stop talking about people behind their backs.

That Jim Wulforst steps up to the plate and replaces ARAMARK on East Campus. He's talked about getting tough for many months; at this point, the company has had enough chances. A local or regional vendor could do a great job and remind freshmen that dining hall food can actually be good, or even superb.

That the next racially insensitive controversy concludes with a quiet, constructive and preemptive resolution, like the ATO "Ghetto Fabolous" party did earlier this fall. It is wrong for cultural groups to place financial, academic and other "demands" on the administration simply because they feel wronged by a group of students in an isolated incident.

The leadership of ATO and the Black Student Alliance should be commended for their efforts.

That something gives on the campus wildlife parade of cats and squirrels. To me, there is only one natural solution: domesticate the squirrels and teach them how to hunt.

That after the turkey and stuffing this holiday season, everyone takes one extra helping of optimism and two of boldness. Duke is only as good as you.

 

Andrew Collins is a Trinity senior and former University Editor of The Chronicle.

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