With the dust beginning to settle after the storm that was Greek and SLG rush, students are finding themselves once again faced with the harsh realities of Duke’s toxic social climate. As bid day photos and big-little shots are plastered across social media, independent students increasingly feel pushed to the side. The looming housing deadline presents further apprehension for many who have no selective housing safety net. Social events become more restrictive as they transform into intimate mixers, leaving unaffiliated students with few options besides Shooters if they want to go out.

Combine these post-rush sentiments with the already-exclusive social scene that stems from our off-campus culture. In the status quo, there exist certain administrative policies that encourage students to seek refuge off campus. After all, if students feel like they are unable to have an active social life on campus for fear of being written up, they will seek an off-campus event where those regulations do not prevail. Therefore, these attitudes create an environment in which incredibly toxic elements of the Duke social culture, including but not limited to alcohol dependence, exclusivity and sexual assault, can thrive.

Many will cite K-Ville as the remedy, bringing together students from all walks of life in a unique way that no other on-campus organization can duplicate. As one individual explains, “When I’m in section 17, I don’t feel like an independent student. I just feel like a Duke student.” But what happens when Feb. 9 comes and goes? Does attendance at non-men’s basketball games drop off because they are no longer mandated attendance events? How many Crazies will be at the lacrosse games, the tennis matches, or the track meets this spring?

These are some of the pressing issues of Duke’s social culture that keep us up at night. But a cultural shift is not an easy one. We have worked tirelessly with various groups in an attempt to understand what it would take to combat the off-campus scene. For such a change to occur, there needs to be a mutual establishment of trust on both ends. The administration must have faith that, on their own and slightly less regulated, students will not burn the campus to the ground. Students must then trust that the administration is not completely out to get them. Only once this mutual trust is established can we make any progress moving forward.

Such a large-scale transition will take time. We recognize that events will continue to take place off campus for the time being, so there is a pressing need to address student safety in the meantime. Thus, DSG has partnered with administrators in order to modify the alcohol amnesty policy. The current policy holds that formal disciplinary action for a violation of the alcohol policy will not be taken against students for whom medical assistance is sought, or against those who seek medical assistance for themselves or for others. However, this “amnesty” does not presently extend to groups, meaning a group that holds an event at which a student ends up needing EMS ultimately faces formal disciplinary sanctions, namely probation.

Our goal in pursuing this policy change was simple: to promote the safety of students. Groups should not have to feel discouraged from providing help to guests at their events, and it is our hope that, should this policy go into effect, this would be the beginning of smoother and more transparent channels of communication between administrators and student groups.

As for the several other cultural dilemmas, we’re working on it.

Operating on the principle that campus culture is so closely intertwined with residential life, we are looking towards the possibilities that lie with the new dorms to come. Students have expressed a need for community—and not just community within independent houses, but also among different groups. There is no simple solution to the exclusivity that arises from a social culture dominated by selective groups, but we do hope that we can develop equitable means of social engineering to foster a sense of community for all Duke students.

With the Campus Center as Duke’s prime social hub, we are exploring ways to take advantage of these new spaces. Penn Pavilion and Devil’s Krafthouse hold exciting potential as prospective spaces in which groups can hold on-campus social events. DSG is in the midst of discussions with administrators about how we can cultivate an environment that is conducive to open social events that students want.

And for those students who are trying to navigate through the post-rush scene, or who wish they had joined a club at the beginning of the year but forgot to sign up, or who are just looking for some more opportunities to get involved, DSG is partnering with Launch to host a Spring Activities Fair. Come by Penn Pavilion on Feb. 14 and check it out!

DSG has also been collaborating closely with the Gatekeepers, Inferno, and the Line Monitors this year to build a more holistic and intimately interconnected sports culture here at Duke.

But at the end of the day, we don’t have all the answers. We’re here for you, and we are always open to hearing what students need and how DSG could play a role in bettering the Duke experience.