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And then we fell off a cliff

It’s not like I was trying to be nosy. I was just minding my own business, waiting for the Science Drive bus (which is perpetually late), thinking about the fact that I hadn’t done my homework for my upcoming classes. I was miserable. It was a hot day, and I hate the heat. I hate humidity more. I’m from northern California, the part that’s never too hot and never too cool. Very little humidity. Right as I began to wonder why I came to Duke in the first place, two gangly little guys came and stood next to me, talking in that sort of hushed whisper that’s actually really loud and everyone can hear.

“Do you like it here?” asked one. I knew it at once. A p-frosh. It must be that time of year again, I thought. The gangly freshman responded: “It’s okay. I mean, I hate East. It’s so ugly. West isn’t that nice either.” The p-frosh looked as though the freshman had just asked to sleep with him. “I think it’s beautiful!” he protested passionately. The freshman looked unfazed and calmly replied, “Everyone’s got their own opinions.” At that, the p-frosh, looking rather startled and confused, thrust his index finger deeply inside his left nostril. And I mean deep. I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I began to laugh uncontrollably. The p-frosh looked uncomfortable. The freshman looked gangly. The whole situation was ridiculous; however, it inspired a quest to find someone who reports positive things about our carbon-copy of a gothic wonderland.

Trust me when I tell you that this task was hard. When the Science Drive bus finally arrived (10 minutes late, which consequently made me late to class), I looked around and saw that the bus was teeming with little pimply p-frosh. And every freshman was insulting Duke. Really, I kid you not. I took notes. “Duke has no comprehensive social scene,” one person said. “The classes are too hard, and there’s never enough time to party,” said another. “The only reason I came here was because I got rejected from Harvard,” that same person said later. For the whole bus ride, I heard nothing positive about our prestigious University. I heard reports from that gangly kid to your typical, popped-collar frat-esque kid. But I didn’t stop there. I kept searching for the rest of the day until I finally found someone who liked Duke. But she was from somewhere in India and had never been to America before. Basically she was talking about how great the country was, not Duke itself.

After that long day of searching which yielded poor results, I began to question people’s relationship with Duke. Everyone I know who graduated from the University has told me that they have a love-hate relationship with Duke. Most say it leans more to the hate side. As most of you know, every year around this time someone writes at least one column about how the seniors shouldn’t give their X amount of money to Duke, and instead should donate it to charity, beer and/or prostitutes. No senior that I’ve talked to plans on giving any money to the school. And so you have to ask: What went wrong? Duke ought to be one of those schools like Harvard where you’re attached at the hip for life. But it’s not; instead, it’s one of those schools from which people can’t wait to escape.

I’m not trying to diagnose this problem. It’s probably up to the administration to figure it out, but then again, I’m sure it’s like giving an angry bull an enema. If you pick at people, especially irritated young people, they’ll gut you in the groin. I guess what bothers me the most about this is that freshmen who hate Duke still sign up as hosts and poison gangly p-froshs’ impressions of the school. But then again, maybe it’s just as bad that I make fun of them in my columns. We’ve come full circle. In the end, we might not love this institution, but we certainly are stuck here. We’re big boys and girls, the future elite of the world and I have full confidence that we can keep ourselves entertained. Anything less would prove that we don’t belong here.

Matt Dearborn is a Trinity sophomore. His column appears every other Tuesday.

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