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Beyond the box

(10/15/18 4:00am)

As volunteer advocates at the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), a nonprofit that works with individuals toward goals of financial independence, we often work alongside justice-involved community members (those who have come into contact with any part of the criminal justice system) who routinely confront a society that continues to punish them long after they leave detention in the criminal-legal system. As they begin the slow work of rebuilding their lives and rejoining their respective communities, they must navigate limited housing options, employers who refuse to hire them, bureaucratic and nightmarish expungement processes and a public conditioned to fear and disregard them. One consistent barrier is the “Box”—a question on the initial employment application asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. Resulting in the disproportionate rejection of African-American and Latinx job applicants, this Box represents a prejudice ingrained in so many employers against the formerly incarcerated. It is a codification of denied opportunity to those seeking economic stability for themselves and their families. We witnessed countless individuals confront the disappointment, discouragement and rejection generated by the Box, and being forced to start over again. More often than not, we witnessed this rejection when CEF members applied to jobs at Duke University and its Health System.


We killed the Bull City Connector

(07/03/18 2:47pm)

Last summer, I was in Detroit as the city opened its highly-anticipated reinvestment in public transportation: the QLine. It’s an above-ground streetcar trolley that runs down Detroit’s main street, Woodward Avenue. It glistened and smelled fresh; its clean seats and big windows emanated newness. The QLine’s construction costs came out to be a whopping $144 million—a mix of public and private investment—but luckily for other passengers and me, it offered free rides all summer.




Chroncast: Rush Series

(03/22/18 1:49am)

Rush is a ubiquitous part of Duke culture. But why? What does it give us? What does it take away? Chroncast presents: the rush series. Where we explore the impacts of selectivity and housing on Duke’s culture.  This week, we sat down with Trey Walk, a Trinity junior who dropped his SLG last December. Find out why here.








Tragedy of the Congress

(10/13/17 4:00am)

On Dec. 14, 2012, a young man armed with a semi-automatic weapon burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School and fatally shot 26 people–20 of whom were small children. On Jun. 12, 2016, another young man with an automatic weapon open-fired on a crowd at Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people who had gone out to enjoy a night of dancing. On Oct. 1, 2017, an older man with an automatic rifle murdered 58 people from the 32nd floor of a hotel, indiscriminately open-firing on a crowd of country music festival-goers.


'Anywhere can serve a kale salad'

(09/15/17 4:00am)

When Mayor Bill Bell took office 16 years ago, the city of Durham looked nearly unrecognizable compared with its appearance today. There was no American Tobacco Campus, no DPAC, no Parlour, and little to do in the downtown corridor. When Bell took office, he pledged to undertake an unparalleled revitalization effort that would sweep the city in the following decade. The investment brought billions of dollars to the city that renovated old tobacco mills into livable spaces, attracted novel start-ups and businesses, and made a Durham a destination for arts, food, and culture. 


Engaging in DukeEngage

(09/01/17 4:47am)

Last fall, DukeEngage surpassed Duke Men’s Basketball as the most heavily-cited reason on Common App applications that prospective students yearn to come to Duke. With a budget of $30 million, the program aims to get students involved with civic leadership and cultural immersion in cities across the world. The program offers Duke students the meaningful (and free) opportunity to serve in a new community and contribute, ideally, to some aggregate change.


What those statues really mean

(08/26/17 5:54pm)

As students pour in groves back onto campus, back into the sweet embrace of the Durham heat, they return to a city more turbulent than ever, and perhaps more resolute too. Durham is in the throes of a mayoral race in which seven candidates are battling for the seat, and our nation at large has been forced to confront the ugly hate that continues to haunt our cities. In the face of a rumored KKK march, Durhamites rallied together at the courthouse downtown, where days earlier, activists had dismantled the Confederate monument out front. What began as a moment of bravery and solidarity quickly turned to celebration. In the heat of August, we beat drums and danced, black, white, old, and young proclaiming that there was no place for white supremacy in Durham: not in the form of a march, and not in the form of a statue. 


Looking back, going forward

(07/29/17 7:55am)

In a shiny glass conference room on the ninth floor of the main Quicken Loans office, a tour guide asked a group of 16 Duke students if they knew what an HBCU was. We are guests here in the city of Detroit, participating in a DukeEngage program and serving several community partners across the community. Maybe a few of the students were sleeping or not paying attention, and many of our group is international, often unaware of bits and pieces of American culture. Regardless, 3 or 4 of us raised our hands. The vast majority of the room stared blankly at our tour guide as he spelled out the acronym: “Historically Black College or University.”


Kids will be kids...except here

(04/21/17 5:10am)

At age 16, I wore braces and small clips in my hair, threw myself into trends like Tom’s and made the silly decisions that most kids make. Unlike many kids, I did not have to worry about serious trouble at home, nor need to resort to shoplifting for everyday necessities. I was lucky, and often given the benefit of the doubt despite my poor decision-making skills. I got the simple freedom of being a child.