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Passing along the AC secrets

Closing time—the year is just about up, and final reflections are ubiquitous. Rather than TAL you how great my column and I are, I thought I’d open up my AC Book of Secrets and share some of the great, odd and not-so-great things I’ve discovered in four years at Duke.

Best place to study: The Davis Library at UNC. If the pin-drop silence and weird social dynamics of the Gothic Reading Room are proving oppressive, head down Tobacco Road for an anonymous study site with a nice background din.

Best food: The dim sum at Hong Kong Restaurant. I’d hate to make the lunch wait on Sunday even longer, but the delicious Chinese delicacies here drive me to madness—and not just because of the MSG. Special bonus for the woman who works the cash register and has a large portrait of herself in her workspace.

Best class: Econ 55. You’ve got to take it. If you don’t, you’re going to have a lot of conversations about politics and economics in which you will make someone storm out of the room in frustration. Don’t be that guy.

Best professor: Bruce Payne. I’ve written so much about Payne in this space that you might think I’m getting checks in the mail, but the truth is, I am just one of his legions of admirers. More than any other faculty member, he has helped me find the wherewithal to ask myself and others tough questions. What more could you want from an education?

Most underrated campus: East Campus. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people rip on East. You’re near all the restaurants of Ninth Street. There is plenty of grass, nice architecture (except for that hideous Bell Tower Dormitory) and a lot of “cultural vibrancy” in the surrounding neighborhood. Walking around on East, you feel alive and part of something bigger than just Duke—and I like that.

Best late-night hangout: Surprising myself, I have to go with Satty’s. It’s spacious, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and its clientele is a refreshingly diverse and kind of nutty cross-section of Duke. I like both Charlie’s and Verde, but Satty’s will be around long after those places have faded.

Class clown: Richard Brodhead. Everything out of his mouth is hilarious for some reason. He can be talking about a rained-out cookout and for some reason it just sounds kindly and wry. As he surely knows, that disarming quality is pretty darn useful in turning critics into friends. I just hope the substance of his presidency turns out to be as successful as his delivery.

Best part of the Bryan Center: The ’Dillo bar. It’s much maligned, but I appreciate both the student bands and the great bartender, Rebecca. Come to think of it, except for the portrait of the cheerfully mustachioed Mr. Bryan and wife, that’s the only good thing in the Bryan Center. Tear that monstrosity down.

Best random sighting: A duck waddling down a Main West path, having strayed from his home in the gardens. Watching the wayward fowl determinedly press forward alongside equally grim-faced students and professors, everything starts to make a lot more sense.

Most obvious reality: Students have no power at Duke. Why else would Provost Peter Lange be able to summarily halt the financial assistance program for student government officials, much to their rightful consternation? Why else would all these annual promises by DSG candidates get absolutely nowhere, year after year? The thing is, so many student leaders are oblivious to the fact that they are being deluded by ultra-savvy administrators. Students have two options to acquire real power: directly ask the Board of Trustees to grant DSG a rubber-stamping privilege on certain issues à la Academic Council, or—seriously—strike. But unless our elected student officials get real about their role around here, we can count on more of the same.


Best dentist: Dr. Alicia Ramos, D.D.S.

Best advice: College is a time for expanding your perimeter. Take weird classes, drink weird sodas, hang out with weird people, start a weird business, drive on weird roads. Just make sure that the world is bigger when you leave Duke than it was when you got here.

Andrew Collins is a Trinity senior and former University editor of The Chronicle. His column appears Tuesdays.


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