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Being a first-year student is intimidating. From new locations to new faces, the introduction to Duke can be jarring. This year, feelings of isolation and confusion among new students are amplified given virtual classes and social-distancing measures. Thankfully, students are being afforded opportunities to connect and learn from each other through the new “Exploring Self and Community in Dark Times” series.
In years past, humanities and arts departments held catered speaker events to help generate community between faculty, students and the Durham community. They varied from lectures and discussions to invited speakers. Often, these programs existed between the categories of “classroom” and “lecture:” a syncretic and interactive mode of education.
Finals season got you down? Remember—summer’s just around the corner!
Over the past few weeks, undergraduates and professors alike have worked to transition our learning experience onto Zoom. As this attempt to salvage our semester continues, however, it is important to remember that it also acts as an experiment. The widespread acceptance of the Zoom classroom across the country will spawn large sets of data regarding the efficacy of “distance learning.”
“See you after the break, then?”
For the past few weeks, the English department has been in dialogue with opinion writers. In their critiques, the columnists questioned the structure of the English major and its commitments to minority voices. I hope to reframe the debate—to be fair to the department (and its faculty)—while supporting the cause of my colleagues in diversifying the English major.
Two weeks ago, I tackled what I saw as a form of stigmatization that exists against the pre-professional track at Duke. I wanted to refute the idea that choosing a career for financial stability or other material reasons is a “shallow” way to live life. Although I feel I have worked to legitimate the choice to become a preprofessional, that does not mean there are no problems with the pre-professional track, especially as it exists at Duke.
There is one question that all university students must have some programmed response to: what are you studying? It seems like a simple question about one’s current area of interest, but the question probes at something much deeper in our lives. It asks—why are you at university? What do you plan on doing in the future? What do you value in life? Where do you find meaning?
Starting school at a place like Duke was intimidating last semester. Duke is a place where serious things get done by serious people. Classes would be taught by imperial professors, people with years of esoteric study under their belt. Within a few weeks, however, I came to realize this was a poor image of Duke.
A couple days ago, I decided to grab a cup of coffee from Vondy. A very simple task, to be sure. As I approached the cashier, however, my eyes encountered a grotesque, yet captivating sight.
As much as I love it at Duke so far, I can say one thing for sure: the food is bland. The spiciest thing I’ve had here was called “chili broccoli,” if that says anything.
In the past two weeks, I have learned that many student organizations at Duke are rather exclusive. Many of them require auditions. Some of my auditions went well, others not so much. As fate would have it, I didn’t qualify for anything.
Stepping onto Duke’s campus almost a week ago was like stepping into the future. Stepping into a new start, a new path forward. At the same time, I couldn’t help but pause and think about the past. Not just my past, but the past we all share — our history. Who originally built the Duke Chapel? Who were the first to attend a service there? Soon, these questions expanded into broader ideas. Ideas regarding traditions and how they are started. Who creates traditions? But then two questions came to mind that instantly captivated my attention given their relevance to the present day:
This June, The Chronicle published an astounding report revealing that there are nearly 13 times more registered Democrats than registered Republicans on Duke’s faculty.