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Merely a scent of the noxious odor emanating from Abele Quad was enough to drive me back into the library. From the safety of the great indoors, I was able to watch the Dust-Bowl-era scene unfolding on the other side of the glass. Clouds of dirt billowed from the barren soil, concealing the azure blue sky above. A column of tractors spewed tiny pellets of synthetic fertilizer across the parched earth, which then helplessly flew away with the next gust of wind. Such hardships must be necessary to prepare for the day when the verdant strips of turf will magically form a pristine lawn, right?
And in a blink of an eye, it was all over. After a season full of so much hope, everything fell apart with remarkable speed. Less than 24 hours after a triumphant victory over Pitt, Blue Devils football coach Mike Elko stepped on a private jet headed for College Station, Texas, to sign a contract as the new Texas A&M head coach. Soon after, a cascade of Blue Devils hit the transfer portal, making it clear that the Elko Era was officially over. Those happy memories of storming the field after knocking off Clemson, getting hyped for College Gameday and savoring back-to-back bowl victories are now all things of the past.
“We’re gathered here today this afternoon on Abele Quad, the heart of West Campus, under the generous shade of these towering oak trees that seem as old as time.” These eloquent words conjure up a lucid memory in my mind. The unbearable heat of a Durham summer. The ominous threat of storm clouds, ready to unleash a fury of rain, thunder and lightning at any moment.
The last lap in Mario Kart when the music speeds up. That critical stretch of a football game after the two-minute warning. The last 0.2 miles of a 26.2-mile marathon. All three make an apt comparison to the hectic pace of the final few weeks of the semester between Thanksgiving and Winter Break. With finals, projects, shopping and holiday social gatherings all crammed into a few short weeks, the sentiments of joy and gratitude which are supposed to define this season get pushed to the wayside.
A mere two decades ago, a little-known railway system whisked riders across the sprawling Duke Hospital complex. A maze of tunnels, bridges and underpasses carried little railcars throughout the cavernous complex. This was the core of Duke’s futuristic Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system — a new mode of mass transit that was poised to redefine the urban landscape. Built in the late 1970s, Duke’s PRT pioneered this flexible mode of transportation and helped elevate Duke Hospital to its world-class status. Despite the PRT’s success, the system was demolished in 2009 to make way for the construction of the Duke Cancer Center and Duke Medical Pavilion.
On Sept. 1, the ACC unofficially became the All Coast Conference after its additions of Stanford, Cal and SMU. Like a vulture feeding on a rotting carcass, the ACC capitalized off the surprisingly swift decline of the Pac-12 (the most prominent college athletic conference in the Western US) to expand its national appeal. While ACC executives framed the move as necessary for survival in the anarchic world of college sports, it is apparent that the primary motivation for this move was TV revenues. The ACC is posed to gain over $600 million from its contract with ESPN as a result — and that doesn’t include revenue earned from other multimedia companies.
Like an amoeba engulfing a helpless paramecium, Duke has yet again set its gaze on another piece of Durham real estate: Blue Light Apartments.
When was the last time you took a ride on public transportation at Duke?
After 40 cramped minutes squished in the residual corner of an overpacked C-1, only one obstacle lay in between me and the promised land of West Campus: Ken Jeong.
Duke has long branded itself “the university in the forest.” But new developments proposed in the Duke 2024 Master Plan shatter this illusion. Graduate housing behind the Fuqua School of Business, an additional quad behind Edens, and a major expansion of the Duke Medical Center are just a few of the projects outlined in the plan. Collectively, these new additions would result in a loss of 11 acres of tree cover on campus, degrading both ecological and human health. The unchecked growth of the campus’ physical footprint contradicts with the Duke Climate Commitment, where university leaders pledged to “imagine, design and implement a sustainable future for all.” If Duke truly wants to be a leader in addressing climate change, then the university must align its actions with its words.