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A note from the chairs

As chairs of the board, we don’t often get to write outside the confines of a 600 word editorial in AP style format. More often, our time is spent hurriedly editing and making final touches to articles before they’re shipped off for publication. Our time is spent browsing through The Chronicle, The New York Times and other reputable news sources for topics that we can collectively talk about during our meetings. As chairs, we moderate editorial discussions and try to locate the middle ground on which every member of the board—which is comprised of diverse, multifaceted students from all across campus—can agree upon. Consequently, we would like to use this editorial space to personally reflect on our time spent on the board for so long (which is about two years in the language of Duke students). 

It’s funny how I (Alan) got involved on Editorial Board. Going into my sophomore year as an independent, I definitely felt somewhat alone in the big city of West Campus. A lot of people that I was close with my freshman year ended up going Greek (oh, the tragedy of first-year friendships!) so there I was looking for something new and exciting to be a part of. During my freshman year, Lenny, who was my R.A in Blackwell and the chair in 2015, always used to talk about Editorial Board and what it meant to him. Coincidentally, Lenny also ended up being my R.A. in Keohane the next year and he recommended that I apply. Intrigued, I filled out the application, and sent it off to The Chronicle. When word came back that I would be on board, I was ecstatic! I would be able to write opinion articles, collaboratively, at a major college newspaper—what other campus organization can lay a similar claim? The last two years on board have definitely mellowed out from the initial honeymoon phase: they have involved constantly having to write about Trump, with countless late nights spent finishing up articles before the 10 p.m. deadline while overdosing on caffeine in the process. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Seeing our articles in print and hearing them widely discussed—it’s a feeling that makes you proud to be a part of an institution like The Chronicle on this campus. 

I (Sydney) have been a member of the editorial board since the second semester of my first year at our hallowed institution. Part of what pushed me to apply was the time in high school I spent writing for my local newspaper. My humble column—which was dubbed “Generation Next” by my aging editor—was well-known for being scandalous and radical, a feat that wasn’t particularly difficult to accomplish in a sleepy, small town. I’ve never had much journalistic career ambition, but my duties at The Chronicle and other publications to which I occasionally contribute remain some of my most important co-curricular activities. I applied as a first-year still looking for a place on campus and now, in the last few months of my junior year, I can assuredly say that I found a fulfilling, ever-expanding group of incredible peers that I truly couldn’t imagine my time here without. My time on Editorial Board has been formative and I’m proud of the changes and growth that this body of students has undergone. In the past few months, I’ve witnessed a remarkable expansion in our capacity as an organization to confront and challenge difficult, complex topics. Whether it be an editorial on a historically informed and humanitarian look at the relations between the DPRK and the US, holding the IFC accountable or an analysis of the economic implication of a new Amazon headquarters in Raleigh, the Editorial Board members have proven themselves to be thoughtful and deeply committed commentarians. 

For both of us, being on editorial board over most of our undergraduate years has clearly come to define our Duke experiences. Our widely differing backgrounds, and the different pathways that ultimately took us to The Chronicle, are testaments to the power of opinion journalism in bringing together dissimilar individuals on this widely divisive campus. Going forward, we hope to continue the board’s goal of facilitating important conversations within the Duke community through the almighty power of a 600-word editorial. 


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