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PSA to first-years: one of the items on the Chronicle's 101 things to before you graduate is "go to the activities fair as a freshman, sign-up for 10+ clubs, and get spammed with emails for the next four years." The activities fair is today. Go out on the quad and enjoy all the resources that will only be available to you for four years.
In the last few days of this past semester, in between my last final exam and my flight back to Houston, I got the FOMO that I’ve come to expect, find amusing and also dread at the same time.
First off, I apologize for referring to you as a "sorority girl." Even given what I'm about to write below, I recognize that you already deal enough with the negative stereotypes associated with Greek life, and I’d like not to contribute to them. What I’m about to write may not even apply to you. However, I've also learned that clickbait titles are, well, clickbait, so bear with me here.
I'm sure you've been showered with praise (and stickers?) since getting your acceptance letter to Duke, so I'll skip all of the congratulatory messages. That being said, you should recognize it as a privilege to be accepted, and I do hope you come.
At the end of last semester, I remember telling one of my advisors that I had been settling into Duke slowly but surely, that my classes were interesting but not unmanageable, that I had found a niche of friends, and that I think I was more or less ready for second semester.
Last fall, I was hosting a high school senior in my dorm for an overnight campus visit. She had already submitted her early decision application before visiting campus, so I thought I didn't have to do much more to convince her to come.
A few weeks ago, Chronicle columnist Addison Merryman wrote the column "Narrative and post truth," lamenting the degree that narratives, rather than the capital-T “Truth,” would shape our society. He quoted G.K. Chesterton:
"Amy, you need to rush so you can write the annual Chronicle article about how rush sucks!" So said a friend of mine.
In my OneNote notebook, I have a section called "Writing" for my Chronicle columns. Every week, I sit down and write and/or revise a column I'm working on. Throughout the semester, it's grown to include roughly 10 completed columns and drafts.
At the beginning of the year, freshmen were told that 31 percent of Duke students are in committed relationships and that 75 percent of students were interested in a relationship. This statistic, collected as part of the Duke Social Relationships Project conducted by Stephen Asher across four years of Duke students, looks legitimate at first.
A mannequin of Donald Trump with the head ripped off. Collective screams of "F*** Donald Trump" on the quad at 1 a.m. The "crying party" on the third floor of the Sanford building during the watch party. People running down the hall in my room in despair. Rumors that people were drinking their denial of the election results away.
One day in my documentary studies class, we were discussing a reading that mentioned that 90 percent of the photographs submitted in a photo competition were about 10 percent of the world. I asked: is the other 90 percent of the world important, and if so, why aren't people focusing on it?
If there is any subject that's uniquely and unfairly stigmatized at Duke, it's math. I've heard the phrase "I hate math" more than I've heard "I hate philosophy" or even "I hate organic chemistry." And even if the problem stems from the general K-12 attitudes towards math education in America before, but I'd argue that Duke's math department only compounds the problem.
I've been hearing two messages both explicitly and implicitly at Duke: “take advantage of all the diversity" and "find your niche." And as it's coming to that point in the school year where I'm starting to question whether I can sit with a table of new people at Marketplace anymore, it feels significantly easier to follow the latter than the former.
When DSG President Tara Bansal said during convocation to "never let yourself be comfortable," members of the Class of 2020 changed seats, traversing the various benches in the Duke Chapel, and I didn't budge. I had lost the person I had come to convocation with and was sitting with a new group of people.