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Simone Randolph

Age: 21 | Hometown: Olmsted Falls, Ohio

If you believe the national reporting on Duke-Durham relations over the last few months, you might think Durham is more of an obstacle than an asset to the average Duke student.

Not for junior Simone Randolph.

"I wanted to go to a college in a city with a black community," says Randolph, who went to an overwhelmingly white private high school in the Cleveland suburbs. "As an African American student, you have a pass into what Durham residents really think."

The results, she says, are not encouraging-many Durham citizens view Duke students as condescending visitors.

Now Executive Vice President of BSA, Randolph says her college experience has been largely positive, albeit with a few hiccups.

Several professors have asked the political science major to respond on behalf of the "black experience."

"As an African American student, there is pressure to not just represent yourself," she explains.

Last semester, a graduate instructor told Randolph to go back to elementary school after she asked a question about a problem on the board.

Though she doesn't know if her race played a role in the incident, she can't shake the feeling that it was a significant factor.

"Race is still an important issue for me-I feel like I have to show that I'm capable of doing the work," she says.

That applies out of the classroom as well. Randolph says she tries to maintain an "air of confidence" to avoid being left behind-including during last year's lacrosse-fueled protests.

"[The scandal] reminds you of how issues of race, gender and socioeconomics affect how an alleged crime is broadcast," she says. "I'm one of those people who wasn't that mad that the media was here."

Randolph says she wanted to ensure that the scandal was dealt with appropriately-as a black woman, she felt administrators "were kind of twiddling their thumbs."

Still, she says she is optimistic about what is to come.

"The future is now," she says. "We've got a lot of work to do, but to complain and not do anything is really a disservice to yourself."