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At the start of sophomore year, I left my East Campus cocoon behind and struck out for the frontier. Where before I had been swaddled, coddled, beloved and adored as a member of Duke’s latest, greatest (they always tell you that) freshman class, now I was exposed to a grittier Duke, a peripheral Duke, a Duke that was administered with a wink and a nod. That was Central Campus.
I was born in the house my father built, but it was ruled by my mother, Ann. It was 1998, and the analog world was crumbling in the face of the digital revolution. Most saw this impending shift as an accomplishment to be heralded. A few saw it as an inevitability to be managed. But Ann saw the digital age for what it would be—a siege upon the human psyche.
Registering for classes, moving into a new dorm room, attending the first club meeting—the start of the school year naturally features certain social cues that roust students from their summer stupors and refresh them on the realities of Back To School. Among these cues, the latest spasm of student activism always sets the moral tenor on campus.
On January 20, 2020 the CDC confirmed that a man in Snohomish County, Washington was the first case of novel coronavirus in the United States. Over two months later, daily life is unrecognizable.
On March 6, students departed campus for spring break, anticipating a week of rest and a reprieve from academics and extracurriculars. Four days later, the semester as they knew it was over. In a dramatic institutional response to the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic, Duke turned on a dime, shutting down campus, extending spring break and digitizing the entire university experience. That transition has not been seamless. Yet we have never loved Duke more.
In response to my column “Duke Kunshan is a Trojan Horse,” a group of Duke Kunshan students penned a rebuttal, entitled “DKU is a bet on the future of China,” advocating for the sunny side of collaboration with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Their initial premise is true. DKU is indeed a bet on the future of China, but it’s a fool’s wager, a venture that was inspired by naive idealism and that will be sustained by unethical self-interest.
As the Presidential Primary churns along, another campaign will soon sweep Duke—the race for the Presidency of Duke Student Government (DSG). Today marks the deadline for campaigns to submit 100 signatures from supporters so that they may enter the running. Then, from now until election day, a frenzy will ensue as each candidate conducts a relentless selfie stop campaign, traversing campus with canned rhetoric, ear-to-ear grins and well-timed daps.
I can’t help but like Bernie Sanders. I‘m convinced of his sincerity, of his genuine yearning for an equitable America. I admire his dogged commitment, a character trait that is manifest in his established record of ideological consistency. I am reassured by the urgency he exudes, believing as I do in the precarity of our present moment. Although I am not quite “feeling the Bern,” I’ll say this: Sanders is the sole Democrat I would consider supporting.
It's worse than anyone ever thought possible. Snatched from the foul, frothing maw of China’s depraved security state, the Xinjiang Papers reveal the extent of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) crimes against the Uyghur Muslims of East Turkestan.
Has our government failed us? It claims to uphold “the highest ideals of democratic representation,” yet cronyism abounds. It purports to “promote the welfare” of its citizens, but its legislative agenda consists of self-congratulatory vanity projects. If nothing else, this house has resolved to its own wondrous virtue. Our elected representatives’ failure to live up to their stated ambitions comes at a great cost: their own legitimacy. Constituents wonder “what… [their representatives] even do” and whether legislators simply seek some “fluff to add to their resumes.” Duke’s foremost deliberative body, Duke Student Government (DSG), faces a crisis of confidence.
On the morning of September 8, all was well. Students shuffled off to classes, yawning, rubbing their eyes and sipping coffee—oat milk infused, naturally. Professors assumed their lecterns, delivering learned wisdom to disinterested youths. Most were on Facebook, as is customary. But for the usual disruptions—the noisy tabling on the BC plaza, the crazed gaggle around dear Nugget, the occasional spasm of student activism—Duke was at peace. Then, everything changed when the rankings dropped.
Let’s play “Guess the Candidate.” Imagine a presidential candidate who threatened to “opt out” of NAFTA if they could not secure a better deal. Suppose this candidate opposed “amnesty” and wanted “to secure our borders… for the sake of [America’s] sovereignty.” This individual argued that immigrants must “pay a fine,” “learn English” and not take part in “criminal activity” if they wanted citizenship. The unidentified candidate was also proudly “opposed to Iraq from the start” and affirmed that marriage is a sacred “union between a man and a woman.”
Tragic, jarring and disturbing, mass shootings have become a fixture of American politics. Mass shooters have targeted our houses of worship, our schools, our workplaces, our stores and our communities.
In his inaugural column, my friend, David Min, thrust a dagger into a largely nonexistent foe: sincere centrists. Lambasting the mild and moderate wherever they cower, Min argued that centrists “adopt their political affiliation as a result of privilege and general political apathy.” Delving into the psyche of these “Centrist Chads,” Min supposes that they ignore the obligation to seek “absolute truth” and instead “begin with the assumption that moderation is an objective good...”
As Drill Sergeant paced through our formation, peering into the stationary eyes of the assembled Cadets, he periodically barked: “Thinkin’ and blinkin’ Cadets! That is all that is authorized at the position of attention.”
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are in possession of divided attention spans, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain predictable tendencies, that among these are excitement, arousal, and reaction– and to secure the control of these passions, the author must direct them with great purpose and careful calculation, so as to properly court the consent and readership of the content consumers– (Becker’s Declaration of Sentiments, 2019.)
Dear Mr. Williamson,
A common value defines the Duke experience. It pops up on path signs around Cameron and Wallace Wade Stadiums. Proudly and prominently, it marquees on basically every item of Duke promotional material and across Duke’s expansive web presence. In the many notifications from President Price and the occupants of the Allen building, the administration often reaffirms its commitment to this value: diversity.
I disagreed with quite a bit of the content of my fellow columnist Lizzie Bond’s latest column, but I want to focus on one point in particular: her assertion that “Duke students who arrive [at Duke]… discover that an on-campus residential community is a luxury, not a right.” Let’s slow down and consider whether or not human beings inherently have a right to community, both because this question is important in and of itself, but also because our answer to this question has serious implications for how we ought to structure the future of housing at Duke.
For most Duke students, Thanksgiving was a much needed break from academic demands, internship applications, and general responsibilities that define our lives on campus. But apparently there is no rest for the wicked. On November 23rd, the day after Thanksgiving, the Chronicle reported that posters from a group called “Identity Evropa” appeared on Duke’s campus. Part of the broader alt-right movement, Identity Evropa is one among many organizations who hope to apply lipstick to the pig of white nationalism. Calling themselves “identitarians,” members of the group aim to infiltrate college Republican organizations in order to inject white supremacist ideas into the mainstream. Sadly, this is not the first instance of hateful people announcing their presence at Duke. Less than a week before the Identity Evropa incident, a swastika was painted over a mural devoted to victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. That too was but the most recent incident in a spate of anti-Semitic attacks that have repeatedly marred Duke’s campus. In response to these hateful events, various student groups, from The Chronicle's independent Editorial Board to DSG to the Graduate and Professional Student Council to the People’s State of the University, have all called on the Duke administration to implement a “robust hate and bias policy.” As someone of Jewish heritage, these acts on campus pain me and I empathize with the good intentions of those proposing the hate speech policy. But even though I understand how they feel, I still don’t think censorship is the answer.