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The end of the 93rd

Amidst the frantic rush to finish up the academic year, tunnel vision has set in for most students: got to cram for my orgo exam, got to finish up my senior thesis, got to decide what I’m going to wear to Myrtle. Lost among the seemingly endless bucket list of things to do this week is an appreciation that yet another year at Dear Old Duke is finally coming to a close. Ever since January 1925, when Trinity College students came back from winter break to find their campus newly christened as Duke, this institution has been progressing forward and changing quickly with each passing year, with new challenges awaiting it each new cycle. As members of this institution, we should take it upon ourselves to reflect on the events of this academic cycle, and the progress (or lack thereof) we have made as a community. 

Duke’s 93rd cycle commenced with a new president helming the University: Vincent E. Price. Former provost at Penn, Price, one month into his tenure, faced his first major decision as president: the removal of Robert E. Lee from the Chapel. Although unavoidably controversial, Price’s decision was lauded by many as representing the consensus of a diverse student body. In his inauguration speech, he—in the spirit of rebirth and renewal—promised students and members of the campus community an era of “institutional succession” under his tenure, vowing to tackle on the many challenges of leading a major research university into the 21st century. The progression of the University over the next ten or so years will ultimately reveal whether or not Price will fulfill his promise, but amidst the glamor and glitz of an overdone presidential inauguration Duke celebrated what will hopefully be a new, enlightened era. 

Into second semester, the usual events of the academic cycle dominated university discussions. The flu-ridden residents of K-ville were ultimately rewarded for their long suffering with a 74-64 victory over Carolina. Amy Kramer was elected by the undergraduate community as Young Trustee, and Kristina Smith—amidst some controversy—was elected DSG president for the 2018-19 year. Housing reform has also become an important point of discussion with the group Duke Students for Housing Reform pushing for a comprehensive overall of the current residential model. Finally, student activists stormed the stage during Price’s speech on alumni weekend to push for a more progressive vision of Duke. 

In recent days, far too common and familiar conversations on racism and administrative apathy have emerged once again with the surfacing of slur-laden LDOC snapchats and vandalism at the 300 Swift apartments. These deeply troubling and inexcusable events remind us that even as time passes and students graduate, there remain consistently prevalent issues—like anti-blackness and white supremacy—on campus. Duke is inching nearer to its centennial anniversary under its current president, and yet certain problems plaguing this university stubbornly remain the same—even as students demand change year after year.

Ultimately, the 2017-2018 academic year has ended similarly to many before it: with small victories made, lessons learned and with considerable obstacles remaining on the horizon. As students pour over scribbled notes until the wee hours of the morning, anxiously awaiting their beach-filled week of reprieve and thinking of anything besides the long term trajectory of the University, another milestone in Duke’s history has been written. The 93rd will undoubtedly be remembered as meaningful and disappointing; difficult and fulfilling; eventful and unfinished.

This editorial is dedicated to Surabhi Beriwal (Class of ‘18), former chair of the board and a guiding influence for all of us. 


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