The independent news organization of Duke University

Glad I stayed

Of the six or so clubs I joined at the start of my freshman year, The Chronicle was the only one I stuck to until the end.

Yet I strongly considered quitting The Chronicle at the end of that year. My first foray into journalism had been a little rocky. Many of the articles I wrote—about the North Carolina Court of Appeals and constitutional amendments, or how the southern drawl was declining in the state—all failed to evoke interest among my fellow students. That quite possibly included my editors as well.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed writing those articles. It was just that the reach of my articles didn’t match the zeal with which I went about researching and writing, finding six or seven sources when I quite frankly probably only needed three.

I still remember why I decided to stick around. The then-incoming editor-in-chief and my good friend, Amrith, was an RA in my dorm freshman year. We were watching a rivalry basketball game—my Portland Trail Blazers versus his Oklahoma City Thunder—in the common room when we got to talking about The Chronicle. He was enthusiastic about his ideas for the paper moving forward—about allowing writers to explore longer and more investigative stories—and I trusted Amrith, so I figured I’d give it a go for another year.

Looking back, that’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made at Duke.

Some of the highlights of my time here come from those long production runs, hanging out in 301 Flowers from 4:30 to midnight. I never imagined spending my junior year doing that, but I can’t imagine a more rewarding experience, even if it occasionally meant staying up until two in the morning to fact-check a DSG article or until five to finish the election issue. Working with others who shared a common dedication to an organization—Claire, Adam, Abby, Amrith and so many others—created a community and camaraderie that truly defined the past four years.

As my time at The Chronicle comes to a close, I’ve had time to reflect on how the paper has evolved and what impact it has on the Duke community. We have become more digitally-oriented—through Facebook Live videos of protests on campus, through interactive graphics, and more—and have made investigative reporting a larger part of what The Chronicle does. Sometimes we had to improvise to make it happen—frantically trying to find someone to cover a protest—but we made it work.

There have been some things I wish had turned out differently. Idealism is a part of college journalism, where we aim to hold the University accountable. Between my junior and senior years, Claire and I wrote a series of articles examining complaints about unfairness in our student conduct system. I naively hoped they would spark change, but that is nowhere to be found. Perhaps this is common to all large institutions, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. These problems still remain. A student accused of sexual misconduct and found responsible by two different Undergraduate Conduct Board panels was released from a suspension because a district court judge found the University violated its own conduct procedures. Another student—who sued Duke for a similar reason—settled with the University, with all terms confidential. It’s hard to see how anyone—on whichever side of the case they are—benefits from a student conduct system that has to be later litigated in court, or one that isn’t transparent about its shortcomings.

Change might not happen right away, but it certainly won’t happen without our investigative work and documenting of Duke’s history as it happens. I’m proud to have been a part of this long tradition of student journalism and to have worked with people pursuing this common goal day-in and day-out.

Neelesh Moorthy is a Trinity senior. He served as managing editor of the Chronicle’s 112th volume and Towerview and investigations co-editor of its 113th. He would like to thank everyone on staff and at the business office for how much they’ve put into The Chronicle and for creating a great environment to work in at 301 Flowers.


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