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Letter to the editor

This morning I gave a “shout-out” at Mike Schoenfeld’s senior staff meeting to all the Duke students that participated in the weekend of events honoring Dr. King and their own commitment to beloved community. I then read the editorial called “Bridging the gap” and wanted to respond to offer another perspective of just how involved Duke students are in the Durham community. Yes, the “all-encompassing” habitat of Duke can be an obstacle to student off campus life and service but it is not the whole story.

I began my weekend on Saturday with eight Duke students of the Duke Habitat campus chapter present for the dedication of a new Habitat home they helped fund and build in East Durham. I was touched when Jake Conroy shared with the assembly of friends, sponsors, and the new family owners that 19 student groups assisted in the build and he was particularly pleased how their work and presence gave them a “lens on Durham that they would not have had otherwise.” Monday began with the annual meal packaging event held at Durham Technical Community College where the entire Duke baseball team and staff prepared early that morning the set up for the day’s event staffed by over another 100 Duke Student volunteers. While that was in process, I witnessed the kick-off of The Big Event which provided service opportunities for 5 sites in Durham for project based work. I then moved to Lyon Park Recreation Center where students joined hands with neighbors and St. Andrew’s society in gleaning sweet potatoes for food pantries. Tuesday evening the Durham Giving Project house course began its study of Durham and the creation of a giving circle to support non-profits (not just the campus cat) within the Duke-Durham neighborhood partnership. At the class Isabella Paez noted that her swimming with the Blue Devil program led by the Duke swim and dive team are in full preparation for the spring sessions on swim and water safety for neighborhood children. Last night over 20 students came to an information session on the DukeEngage Durham program for summer of 2017.

Believe me, the university does recognize the importance of Durham and as I often say, “My vice president, Dr. Phail Wynn, is the only vice president on President Brodhead’s senior staff with Durham in his title!” There are many hands committed to Duke and Durham: Duke Chapel, Sanford Public Policy, Duke Athletics, Duke Institutional Equity, Service Learning, Student Affairs, DukeEngage, Program in Education, hundreds of tutors from the Community Service Center and the list goes on.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss the bridge that exists between Duke and Durham and how The Chronicle can help instill this commitment to its readership.

Sam Miglarese, Director of Community Engagement at the Duke University Office of Durham and Regional Affairs

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