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Shattering the blue-colored glasses

We extend our utmost congratulations to visiting admittees to the Class of 2022 on obtaining entry to Duke in its most competitive year in history. The importance of first impressions cannot be overstated. Coming to the University with blue-colored glasses, prospective students on Blue Devil Days are often greeted by their respective hosts to a postcard-friendly image of campus life where a diverse set of gifted students thrive under the benevolent nature of almighty Duke. It would be drastically ill-advised, in spite of the jam-packed Duke sightseeing schedule, not to look beyond the pale of one single host. It is statistically impossible for a single host to be representative of the Duke student body due to the sheer depth and breadth of diversity among students here. Shattering one’s blue-colored perspectives of campus life should thus be forefront in the minds of prospective students who are set to flock to Duke over the next few days.

As of late, housing reform has occupied a prominent place within campus discussion; these conversations are far more nuanced than the simple trifecta of Independent, SLG and Greek housing options usually presented to prospective students at whitewashed information sessions. 

For those considering Duke, it should be important consider a bitter truth about Duke’s housing system: unlike peer institutions, Duke’s housing model fails to provide strong communities past the first year. Among those who truly enjoy the Greek community are also those who join for fear of social isolation in the alternative. Amidst the SLG rushees and members are individuals severely disillusioned with the oft cold-blooded selectivity of the month-long sprint that is rush—an emotionally confusing process that comes to painful, grinding halt for most. 

On a more distressing note, as prospective students should note during their stay here over the next few days, Duke has a sexual assault problem that it has yet to fully come to terms with: an alarming 40 percent of undergraduate women report acts (under the umbrella of sexual assault) of stalking, relationship violence, or directly forceful acts, throughout their time at Duke. One ought to avoid connecting unrelated dots, yet the perceived need to involve oneself in Greek life due to non-existent community and drunken nights at Shooters II cannot be cleanly separated from higher instances of sexual assault.

There is, and should, be more to the story than this. Inaction resulting from defeatism, should we let it overwhelm us and cede to it our Duke experience, is bound to reinforce the aforementioned voids of community and belonging. Such pessimism in our outlook must be confronted for we all have a stake in guiding our Duke experience. Now is a potentially paradigmatic time of change; with a new president, and the heavy presence of student groups on campus ready to address these issues, a critical mass is forming around key reforms. Indeed, just last Saturday a group of students from a diverse selection of backgrounds made their intent to take their experience into their own hands publicly known. It is incumbent, therefore, upon you, prospective students, to take matters into your hands, whether you are a revolutionary or a reformist. In choosing to come here, you implicitly commit to working toward bettering Duke. If we value our institution, it is we who should choose to improve its standing. Ultimately, it is on the future students of Duke to foment the fruits of institutional change, and to truly create a better University beyond a false perception of blue-colored glasses. 

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