It’s the beginning of the new school year, and for The Chronicle opinion section that means an onslaught of patronizing columns directed towards first-years written by people vastly unqualified to give any sort of life advice. I have no interest in reading how one year at Duke taught you the importance of stress management or how it took time for you to make this new environment feel like a home. I don’t need a thousand words to tell me that college life presents you with a lot of options but you should probably only commit to a few; and while we’re at it (even though it’s off topic) I may as well mention that the column about “Radical Randys” pissed me off too.
I’ve been here for three years now and I still feel just as dumb when it comes to navigating this school as I was in my first week. I’ve never met with my major advisor, I’ve never set up a Flunch, and I don’t know where half the buildings are. In a lot of ways I’m even less grounded than I was as a freshman. I spent a good year and a half caring way too much about mixer themes or who was bringing who to date functions. If I really think about it, there’s honestly only one piece of advice I feel completely qualified to give:
Don’t eat the fish in West Union.
Last week I made the poor decision of purchasing the salmon at JB’s Chop House and it only took a few short hours before I was projectile vomiting into the drain of my tub shower. It was easily the third worst food poisoning I’ve ever encountered, topped only by a tainted batch of Bojangles purchased in Rougemont, North Carolina, and the mayonnaise-topped hamburger I ate in Damascus, Syria. It’s not the first time I’ve been burned by JB’s either. The blackened salmon tip pineapple goulash they served last year passed through my system quicker than Pete Davidson goes through hastily chosen girlfriends.
But let’s not just pick on JB’s. Freshman year I frequented the poke stand at Ginger and Soy; however, after biting into a cartilage chunk the size of Paul Giamatti’s left testicle for the third time, I decided to call it quits. The sushi place whose name I don’t know has fish, but they also think that cream cheese belongs in Japanese inspired cuisine, so if I were you I’d steer clear.
I think the root of the West Union fish problem is really just an identity issue. West Union is a great college dining hall, one that I’m grateful to have had for all of my four years, but at the end of the day it is just a dining hall. The sleek stand facades and glass architecture give the vendors the confidence to attempt dishes they have no business attempting. It’s kinda like how that doughy white guy fiending for a pickup game in Wilson thinks he can take pull up threes just because he’s rocking a newly-purchased pair of Kyrie 5’s. You can peacock all you want but you’re not fooling anyone after you start gasping for air three trips up and down the court.
Prioritizing the brochure over user experience is very on-brand for Duke. The quality of West Union food isn’t bad, but it is clear that the design of the building was much more important to Duke than the food itself. Duke got rid of Central Campus because it looked like an East German DMV, but Central was super fun and most people I know who lived there loved it. Duke doesn’t have a frat row and any on-campus parties are strictly monitored, but that just makes parties move off campus where Duke can pawn off the problem onto Durham residents and the local police. Not sure what any of that really has to do with West Union fish but I have to write another hundred words for The Chronicle to publish this and I’m running out of fish jokes faster than Pete Davidson goes through hastily chosen girlfriends.
I guess I’ll wrap this up the way any good advice column does: with an unnecessary and overly sentimental restatement of my simple premise. Here goes nothing: Duke can be a hard place to adjust to, and sometimes you may feel overly stressed or like you’re missing out on countless opportunities. But one thing you should miss out on is the fish in West Union, cause that s*** will destroy your insides.
Sami Kirkpatrick is a Trinity senior. His column, "kinda kidding," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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