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2018 Icons: Rahul GS and James Zhou

The Facebook group "Duke Memes for Gothicc Teens" is famous around campus, but do students know two of its most influential users? 

Sophomore Rahul Sengottuvelu posted his first meme February 18, 2017. It was a pretty bad meme actually, something to do with spending food points at vending machines. I didn’t think it deserved how many “likes” it got, but I threw him a pity “like” regardless. Still, Rahul had real potential, and he lived up to it.

Rahul would eventually become a meme powerhouse. Spending months completely still in his room, Rahul would stare at his screen without blinking, moving only to poke his keyboard or smear his finger against the trackpad to craft the perfect meme. Rahul would hold the record for the highest “like” per meme ratio as well as the most memes surpassing one thousand “likes."

James Zhou was my roommate freshman year. In high school, he was a dominant player in Quizbowl, an academic competition. Playing for Hinsdale Central, he specialized in poetry and history. 

A “neg” is when someone answers incorrectly and the team incurs a penalty of five points. According to the Quizbowl Wiki, James’s personal record was 26 negs.

The Duke meme group would see many setbacks, not unlike Quizbowl negs. From minor decisions to larger controversies, these setbacks didn’t make it easy to moderate such a large group. However, James would always be there, providing invaluable input and wise choices. There’s no doubt that James shaped the meme group more than anyone gives him credit for. He’s living proof that you could neg all day, but still win the tournament.

Despite James’s massive role in the growth of the meme group, he was eventually removed from his moderator position due to him unblocking spammers. He continues to advise, just from a distance.

Sophomore Will Ye contributed this profile. Ye is one of the founders of the "Duke Memes for Gothicc Teens" Facebook group.

Editor's note: This profile is part of our new initiative called The Chronicle 18. We are highlighting 18 people and groups who are defining what it means to be at Duke this year. Read about the project and more of our selections.


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