Duke is no longer a top 10 college. If you dare risk ego death and steal a glimpse of the official rankings online, you will suffer the crippling indignity of scrolling down from the top of the list for six whole seconds and then clicking “load more” before you uncover the fossilized remains of the once-mighty Blue Devils, clocking in at an agonizingly humiliating 12th place.
How did this happen? We used to be gods. How do we find ourselves relegated to the second page, stranded on this island of misfits which is home only to vagabonds like Dartmouth, Brown, Vanderbilt and Cornell?
“Oh yeah! Duke! I remember you guys. Y’all really suck now, huh? Oof.” says an anonymous representative from World Report, the organization responsible for our new, lower rank. I was only able to secure this interview with them by lying and saying that I attend Northwestern.
“This is the first year we’ve considered student debt as a ranking factor. Naturally, you guys tanked"
And tanked we have. A cursory visit to campus is all it takes to realize how rapidly that falling out of the top 10 has damaged our community’s morale. Sports attendance is at an all-time low. Employers have canceled appearances at our in-person job fairs left and right. Performance groups are apparently so saddened by the news that they haven’t performed all year. People are walking around with their faces covered to avoid the embarrassment of being associated with such a low ranking school. Even Keith and Nugget are distancing themselves from Duke’s campus, socially. The place is a ghost town. It’s excruciatingly clear that this is all because we aren’t top 10 anymore.
We’re on a dark path. It’s only a matter of time before Coach K retires in disgrace, or the women of “Business Oriented Women” can no longer orient themselves towards business, or Big Mike ends his contract with the C1 and takes his talents to Stanford’s Marguerite Shuttle, or the Chapel is taken down over allegations of inappropriate acoustics, or the Divinity School releases a statement saying that there is officially no god.
Even with all of this macabre forecasting, I clocked perhaps the most glaring example of our downward trajectory when I visited the Italian restaurant Il Forno in West Union this week. I walked up to the counter to order a large chicken basil pesto like I always do, but the employee working the pasta station seemed horrified simply by the sight of my bare, exposed face. What’s more, my obvious ailment with the common cold was met not with empathy, but disgust. I coughed, sneezed and loudly exhaled into my hands, but when I reached behind the counter for a complimentary breadstick from the complimentary breadstick receptacle, my hand was slapped away and I was told to leave the establishment. Clearly Il Forno’s goodwill for sickly students only extends as far as the first page of U.S. News and World Report’s National University Rankings. They didn’t say it outright, but their message was clear:
“Our breadsticks are for smart children. Not you.”
The writing is on the wall. Il Forno will soon part ways with Duke. Too good for us, It will lift off and ascend far, far away, like E.T. at the end of the film E.T. (spoilers for the 1982 Stephen Spielberg film E.T.). And maybe we deserve it. After all, the number of chairs and tables in West Union has reduced significantly since last year, likely a byproduct of budget cuts due to our new ranking. But what is Duke without Il Forno? I know that’s the most pressing question on everyone’s mind right now. It’s certainly keeping Duke’s president up at night.
Vincent Price is coming apart at the seams. He’s been spiraling ever since the publication of my exposé, and this news could be the thing to finally send him over the edge. He bursts into my private study with blind, frenetic terror in his eyes. His clothes are tattered, his hair’s a mess and he appears not to have shaved in days. He grabs me by the shoulders and begins violently shaking me.
“Monday! Monday! You’ve gotta help me! The people—they—they’ll listen to you! You’ve gotta tell ‘em to have mercy on me! Wait...what’s that?”
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
He starts hissing, his eyes laser-focused on a single point. I trace his gaze to the number “12” on my wall calendar. I quickly conceal the triggering number, and I try to calm him down. I ask him what the heck he’s talking about.
“These parents, Monday Monday! These Duke parents in their Facebook groups! They’re planning a coup! They want me out! I haven’t seen them this angry since 2017 when we spent half the year’s budget on Me-Palooza!”
He takes his glasses off and snaps them in half.
“These aren’t even real! I just wear them to look smart! I'm in way over my head!”
He begins uncontrollably sobbing as he crumples into my arms.
We’re all going through a lot. And clearly our falling from 9th to 12th is a gigantic deal, and the thing we absolutely need to be most concerned with right now. But instead of, like, worrying about it, I present an alternative: cosmic nihilism.
Students were barely holding on back when they still thought the institution they attended was elite. Now there’s no reason to put on such airs. It’s okay! You can finally give up! You’re never going to be a wunderkind. I promise. Slip under the sweet sweet weighted blanket of mediocrity, and leave the stressing to those snobs in the top 10.
Editor's Note: Wall Street Journal ranked us 5th. So... never mind! Back to work!
Monday Monday dedicates this week’s column to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who, among a plethora of achievements, was the first tenured female professor at Columbia Law (solidly in the top 10).