Students express mixed opinions about new Quad Arches designs, impact on creating community

Duke released the final designs for the seven Quad Arches in early April, but some students have mixed feelings about the impact of the new symbols on their goal of fostering new Quad identities. 

These visual icons are part of the broader QuadEx initiative, which aims to foster a channel of connection between East and West Campus, serving as a symbol of each West Campus quad. 

The Quad Arches aim to encapsulate each quad’s “characteristics and narratives of the physical Quads themselves” by incorporating plants, animals and “unique features” of each building in their designs, according to a poster in Marketplace created by the Quad Identity Project. QIP, which is part of QuadEx, spearheaded the Quad Arches project. 

“The Quad Identity Project is about helping all students feel a connection — through shared experiences — to the places they live and the people who live there,” wrote Landy Elliott, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education and one of the creators of the QIP, in an email to The Chronicle.

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An overview of the Quad Arch designs on Duke's QuadEx website.

Some students are excited by the project, noting that the University is emphasizing an iconic architectural symbol of Duke. Sophomore Rachel Field pointed to how the arches “[touch] on the Gothic architecture at Duke,” which she believes is a “hallmark” of the University that even people unfamiliar with Duke recognize. 

Others were excited by the arches themselves. According to first-year Kaylee Ruth, “the Crowell [Quad Arch] is very fitting, because I remember they had the initiation night where the random crows came to our dorm … having a crow on it definitely makes sense.”  

However, some students have expressed mixed feelings about specific aspects of their Quad Arches. 

Few’s Quad Arch places Few Tower, the most distinctive feature of the quad, in the middle of the arch with the inverted chevron as the architectural feature. Two squirrels face towards each other, a characteristic sight on campus and the design carved into the base of Few Tower. 

“I really liked the design of the Few [Quad Arch]. I like the tower; it looks really good. The squirrels also look really nice,” first-year Ayush Jain said. “It's really subtle and chill.”

Jain had reservations about the motto “Libertas et Disciplina,” or "Freedom and Discipline," saying it could be “cooler.” 

Field, who is affiliated with Keohane Quad, loved the “personal touch” of the American Shorthair cats on the Keohane Quad Arch, which symbolize the cats often seen scurrying around Keohane Quad. She was not the biggest fan of the principal color, jokingly saying that orange was not her favorite color.  

Some believe that the Quad Arches exist to support the community building process, not replace the effort students put into developing relationships.  

Field said that the success of the Quad Arches in building quad identities “depends on how excited students get about QuadEx.” She pointed to how the Friday Bricks to Stone event was a “step in the right direction” in developing excitement among first-years about their new quads.

“It’s vanity just to have a design,” Ruth said. “I think what the [Quad] Councils themselves do to create community will create community itself. I don’t think these designs will inherently create a community, but more so the policies and the events that they plan that really will build one.” 

Andrew Bae profile
Andrew Bae | Associate News Editor

Andrew Bae is a Trinity sophomore and an associate news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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