Editor’s Note: This piece discusses racist incidents and racial violence.
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Editor’s Note: This piece discusses racist incidents and racial violence.
Following the murders of Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, and Yong Yue in Atlanta, Georgia, Duke remained silent. Social media has been flooded with activist posts relating to the shooting. Some people are finally beginning to acknowledge the struggles that the Asian American community faces. But why did it take a mass shooting for discrimination against Asian Americans to be recognized? And why has Duke failed to release a full statement in solidarity with Asian Americans after an attack affecting one-fifth of its student body, instead referring to a statement President Vincent Price made before the attacks?
Twenty-two: the number of weeks that Duke has successfully remained open during a pandemic. Since August, Duke has maintained semi-normal, albeit restricted, on-campus learning. The past twenty-two weeks have not been without flaw, but until this point, we have avoided reaching the threshold of COVID-19 cases which pushed the administration to issue a stay-in-place order. Although many students thought the Duke difference would save us, last week we endured the same lockdown routine that some peer schools experienced earlier this year.
This year, the Editorial Board has largely focused on questioning power structures at Duke. We have covered the cyclical nature of legacy admissions, the toxic elitism in club culture, instances of white apathy outside of electoral politics, and more. The challenges that the Duke student body has faced this year have illuminated the urgency for abandoning status quos. We believe that Carlos Diaz is the Duke Student Government (DSG) presidential candidate with the vision and the gusto to rise to the occasion.
When not attending maskless parties and preserving their archaic and elitist selective organizations, you’ll find most Duke students at their desks, hard at work. In the midst of this and the pandemic, many students are left wondering how to effectively spend their time here at this absurdly expensive private university.
President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial symbolized the illusion of change. His acquittal, however, simply represents yet another example of superficial progress. Thinking about trivial advancement in a smaller administration, we see these same themes arising in Duke’s new housing policies for the upcoming school year. Although it may seem a bit bold to compare Duke’s Next Gen 2.0 Housing Committee to the inner workings of the United States government, the two are similar in that Duke’s new housing policy is riddled with conflicting interests, vague policies, and an unclear motive to explain why these specific changes are being implemented.
After a hard-fought basketball loss last Saturday between Duke and Louisville, Chronicle reporter Jake Piazza had a question for head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “I’m just curious as to what the next step forward here is for the team as you guys move into another week of basketball,” Piazza asked.
This week, Duke will release admissions decisions for thousands of Early Decision applicants. Hundreds of students will be receiving the good news: a place at one of the most elite institutions in the country. Education is always thought of as a great equalizer. However, at Duke, children and grandchildren of alumni are given special consideration in the admissions cycle. If historical data is upheld, 19% of the incoming Trinity Class of 2025 will hold legacy status. Legacy admissions, whether unintentionally or by design, do very little to reduce the inequalities present in higher education. Duke specifically must confront how its adaptation of this admissions policy impacts the classes they accept.
While strolling down Union Circle on East Campus, it’s hard to ignore the groups of students leisurely studying, the perfectly manicured lawns, or the Southern traditional-style dorms. But a quick glance toward Marketplace reveals something less picturesque: trash cans overflowing with single-use takeout containers. In an election cycle where activists have placed significant emphasis on the reality of climate degradation and environmental justice, our on-campus wastefulness serves as a concerning bellwether for environmentalism’s further decline at Duke.
Not long before this weekend’s celebration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s victory, many of us repeated some form of “I just need to make it past the election” or “I can’t wait for the year to be over.” After four years of a president that exploited the existing racism, sexism, xenophobia and other violent structures that this country operates under, we are justified in celebrating his removal. Black and Indigenous organizers in the South who made this win possible, undocumented individuals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and all other Americans to whom this oust has an immediate material impact especially deserve a moment of communal relief. But acting like “these uncertain times” will be solved by a Democratic administration is harmful, just like blaming the year 2020 for the natural consequences of colonialism, institutional racism, capitalism and fascism. We cannot divorce this moment from the lineages of struggle to dismantle structures of oppression or delude ourselves into thinking the work is over.
If it seems like the semester has flown by, that’s because it has. Just last year, students would be getting ready for round two of midterms after finally settling into something resembling a stable routine. Instead, students face only two weeks left in the semester, and many of us have turned our attention towards the much-needed break.
The Duke Bubble has popped and we’ve become Durhamites. The sheer quantity of off-campus students, lack of on-campus activities and opportunities for “couch activism” has blurred the lines between Duke-student and Durham-resident. We are more integrated into our city than any other semester in recent memory. With this comes the question voting in-state or out-of state. Regardless of the candidate, all eligible voters should cast their ballot in the ongoing election.
After continued low positive COVID-19 cases, the Duke community feels very high and mighty—not that this is a new feeling for us. Out of UNC and NCSU, we’re the last vertex of the Research Triangle left with an in-person fall semester. To make this happen, our surveillance COVID-19 testing schedule has ramped up to 14,000 tests per week. Fall sports have resumed with no complications. By almost any metric, our this semester’s reopening has been successful thus far.
This time last year, Duke students could be found sprinkled across the globe for fall break, enjoying dinners with family, or simply unwinding from a hectic semester. This year, the reality on campus is much different: Students in face masks and jackets hide away in the libraries (until 11pm) and dorms, stressing about their 3-hour lecture videos and debating whether to report symptoms from their Zoom-induced headaches. Unlike previous years when students were greeted with a relaxing hiatus from school work and stress upon completion of their midterms, on May 29th, the Duke administration announced the decision to proceed with the fall semester without any form of break or holiday weekend. The implications of this decision have become all the more apparent over the last two grueling months of hybrid and online classes. Without the typical milestones of parent’s weekend and fall break, many students feel trapped like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” replaying the same daily routine for months on end.
In the age of couch-based Instagram activism, our campus conversation about the future of the University’s social scene has reached a fever pitch. In recent months, concerned students have retold harrowing stories and raised serious, credible objections to Duke’s social climate, whether through this paper or the Abolish Duke IFC & Panhel Instagram page. In turn, others have passed off usual platitudes of “this is just the way it is” or disingenuous attempts at whataboutism to avoid long-overdue introspection about how their organizations reinforce a generally toxic campus environment.
Blue Devils are presumed to be smart, well-informed, and rational. When it comes to a potential coronavirus vaccine, however, there is a growing concern for the level of anti-vaxxer attitudes expressed on campus. In this way, Duke students are no different than the 51% of Americans who will refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine after it becomes available.
In their short walks to pick up pre-ordered food between scheduled library time and online lectures, students inspect each other, always keeping a watchful eye for rule-breakers. In a sense, Duke’s campus has become Foucault’s panopticon, with students charged as the enforcers of the Duke Compact. Students found breaking the rules must be reported. One student allegedly threw a party in their East Campus Dorm. Another was accused of making a drunken getaway after throwing a party in a common room. A third was reported for not wearing a mask in a public space. All of these reports sound true. None of them are. While these stories of false reporting on campus do not discount the numerous true reports of Duke Compact violations, they do highlight the inherent flaws of anonymous student-based reporting.
Black lives matter. This phrase isn’t simply a political platitude or social media trend. It is the recognition and affirmation of Black people’s humanity. Whether straight or queer; male, female or non-conforming; rich or poor—all Black lives matter. They have always mattered, but at times like these—when police violence plagues the streets of cities across the country and when the President of the United States’ words add fuel to the fire—we must advocate harder for systemic change.
The Community Editorial Board's members are independent from the editorial staff of The Chronicle. Read more about the CEB and its members here.