Making Duke perfect: Part I

The popular trend at Duke is to solve our real and imagined problems with elaborate and esoteric plans and initiatives. These programs are invariably more concerned with being politically correct than being constructive and obscure the real issues.

In an effort to get us on the right track, I am proposing a plan of my own. As our problems are actually much more uncomplicated and basic then many pretend, this plan will be of unusually broad scope. Its goal will be to make Duke perfect.

With a little common sense and a lot of boldness we could truly make our school into a dream institution.

I've divided the plan into two portions. Part I deals with University policy-which I'll address in this column-and Part II with student life-which I'll tackle next time.

And now, Part I of my plan:

  1. If someone accuses our peers of committing a heinous crime our administration and President must work aggressively to see that their students are given fair, just and ethical treatment and are guaranteed the presumption of innocence, which is (or maybe I should say ought to be) their unassailable right-and never to sacrifice their support for justice in an effort to appease pernicious political agendas.

  2. Do not suspend students for sending their friends e-mails referencing American Psycho (For the reason why, see item 1).

  3. Enact a students' bill of rights that would guarantee every student learning on this campus an education free of political discrimination, partisan indoctrination and politically motivated grading. There is no excuse for a professor using his or her class to engage in activism instead of instruction. This is the bedrock of education, yet you can talk to student after student who's paid $40K a year only to be inundated by a professor's political prejudices and not his or her professional expertise.

  4. Stop hiring and tenuring radicals whose first cause is politics and not education, who humiliate our school and call into question how seriously we take our academic mission. Last year, three professors organized an effort to have students strip their clothing off at David Horowitz's speech and continuously disrupt his remarks in violation of explicit University policy. No one in their departments or the administration seemed to care about this disgraceful behavior.

  5. Require departments in the course of each year to make a sincere and good faith effort to disburse their funds on panels and events with a mind not just to bring people on one side of the political spectrum but rather to reflect the scholarly debate and diversity on the issues they are addressing. Intellectual pluralism is vital to the University and academic departments and programs cannot be run like political parties, as are, for instance, women's studies, African and African-American studies and cultural anthropology.

  6. Reform the Program in Women's Studies that now seems to be an effort to indoctrinate students in radical feminism (imagine the reaction to a degree-granting Duke program to indoctrinate students in conservatism or monarchism). A proper women's studies program would study women from all angles, not one.

  7. End all racial discrimination in University admissions. So-called affirmative action-which is a system of racial preferences-is not simply misguided. It is a devastating, paternalistic policy endorsed by white liberals more concerned with how they look to their elitist friends than to the well-being of the minorities they claim they want to help. They are not concerned, for instance, that it causes drastically increased dropout rates for black students at elite universities.

Affirmative action places a false and pernicious label on every black person in our country as being part of a special class of people needing special assistance. It advances students beyond their levels of academic preparation and, in condescendingly lowering the bar for millions of people, so too lowers motivation and achievement.

  1. Use extensive University funding to commemorate Veterans Day every year. Give students the day off and work with student leaders to create programming to honor and pay tribute to the brave warriors who have liberated countless millions and who keep us safe, secure and free.

  2. Create an annual University fund of at least $100,000 overseen by a rigorously non-partisan commission for the exclusive purpose of providing student groups with merit-based budgeting for high-profile speakers. The funds' explicit purpose is to both increase student access to funding (thus bringing more speakers of note to our University) and to help eliminate the partisan bias that handicaps student fundraising efforts.

  3. Create a center for the study of free institutions and free societies. For all of the time and energy our University puts into the discredited doctrines of Marxism whose false utopias claimed 100 million lives in the last century-it is shameful that we make no concerted effort to openly study and understand the philosophies that have created history's most just and prosperous nation and hope for a suffering world.

Stephen Miller is a Trinity senior. His column normally runs every other Monday.


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