The independent news organization of Duke University

Ushering in the 93rd

Welcome back to Duke and happy first day of classes! As Duke officially begins its 93rd academic year, the Editorial Board will commence our own 11th year as an independent department within The Chronicle by highlighting news and other noteworthy events from the interim summer months. 

Outside of the Gothic Wonderland, both nationally and internationally, the news cycle during the summer months was saturated with a whole host of political controversies centered around Trump’s White House and a stalemated Congress. The raging debate over healthcare dominated the news cycle for a few weeks during the summer as Republicans and Democrats clashed over the Affordable Care Act. High stakes drama in the Senate drew a strong partisan line, with the exception of a few Republicans who defied party-based voting and ultimately ended this latest attempt to repeal the Obama-era legislation. The threat of white supremacists, as well as the counter-protests popping up nationally to challenge them, continues to be widely discussed by journalists following the tragic events of Charlottesville, leading many local communities to ponder what would happen if throngs of Neo-Nazis showed up in their towns. For Durham, that question was clearly answered earlier this month. In the White House, the Trump administration continued to be plagued with blunders and public embattlement. From failing to decry white nationalists to a consistently high turnover rate of staff, it has been a rocky summer for the commander-in-chief. 

Moreover, national politics aside, back at Duke a more local political transition took place within the offices of the Allen Building early last July. After officially serving as the 9th President of Duke University for 13 years, Richard H. Brodhead officially stepped down on July 1st, and conceded the position to Vincent Price, former provost at the University of Pennsylvania. President Price’s first major decision of his Duke tenure–to remove Robert E. Lee’s effigy from the Chapel–was greeted with both praise and disdain by university students and alumni. Undoubtedly, as with Brodhead before him, President Price will have to confront many other future campus controversies in a similarly decisive, effective manner. 

Despite the dearth of students on campus, the university experienced many noteworthy events and controversies this past summer. Many students have been following the story of the suit filed by a Duke graduate student against the university for mishandling her rape case involving the partner of a Women’s Center employee. This has contributed to the ever-growing conversation around sexual assault and the increasing visibility of how disturbingly common it is on campus. In labor news, the newly minted union for Duke’s contingent faculty, after months of bargaining and negotiating, finally won several demands made to the university. These included higher wages, access to more resources within the university and longer contracts. The Graduate Student Union also saw wins as well with continuation fees for sixth years being eliminated and free gym access expanded for graduate students through their fourth and fifth years on campus.

After an eventful summer news cycle, many at Duke probably are content to situate themselves back on campus for what will be another momentous, noteworthy year at the university. As in previous years, the Editorial Board will continue to comment on a wide variety of news topics with the ultimate aim of facilitating important discussions within the Duke community. We hope you will join us for the rest of the academic year as we continue our goal of promoting campus discourse through our daily editorials. 

Editor’s Note: This editorial was written by the Editorial Board chairs.

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