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This week, Governor of Missouri Eric Greitens has made headlines after admitting to an extramarital affair and being accused of blackmailing a woman with compromising photographs. A Duke alum and former Angier B. Duke scholar, Greitens received the Truman and Rhodes scholarships. He served our country as a Navy SEAL; for his service, he received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He donated his combat pay to the nonprofit The Mission Continues, was named a top social entrepreneur by the Manhattan Institute, and in 2005, was appointed a White House Fellow by President George W. Bush. Before Greitens won the Missouri gubernatorial election in 2016, St. Louis Magazine profiled him: “If the man has an Achilles’ heel, it’s perfection.” With only a glimpse at his resume, even the magazine’s hyperbole appears reasonable. However, in light of recent news, the comparison of Greitens to Achilles seems false. Achilles did not choose his weakness, but Greitens surely made his choice carefully. To echo the words of prominent Missouri Republican, Paul DeGregorio, Greitens’s life “[is] all about his ego and his ambition.”
This past Saturday, residents of Hawaii received an alert that they would be faced with immediate annihilation via a ballistic missile. Although the alert was sent in error by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, this egregious mistake reveals a dangerous lack of preparation and protocol in the event of an actual nuclear attack, if it were to occur. Hawaiians, at the time, did not know what sufficed as “adequate shelter” nor did they know how they could best protect themselves during those hectic thirty-eight minutes of seemingly impending doom. Many simply resorted to frantic phone calls and texts to loved ones in what they believed would be their last moments before a nuclear holocaust. Considering that a missile from North Korea would, theoretically, only take thirty minutes to reach Hawaii, this panic revealed that without an established protocol in place, an emergency notification system may do more far more harm than good.
President Donald Trump’s recent, obscene remarks concerning immigration have incensed many, both domestically and abroad. In this latest debacle, Trump asked several Congress members during a discussion on alternatives to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) why the US accepts people from “sh*thole countries.” According to reports, he continued by inquiring why the United States would want Haitians immigrants and later told Congress members to “Take them out.” Although Trump and some GOP senators have rejected the claims about his commentary, numerous world leaders and members of the public have swiftly condemned Trump’s language. However, with this newest transgression dominating the news cycle, it’s fair to wonder what these types of comments mean in the larger context of the Trump administration’s rhetoric as well as American immigration history in general.
This Monday, the Trump administration announced its decision to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to nearly 200,000 Salvadorans immigrants. This designation has allowed citizens fleeing disastrous conditions following a series of devastating earthquakes to legally live and work in the United States for the past 17 years.Initially enacted in 2001, TPS was granted to undocumented immigrants from El Salvador under the Bush administration. As part of reconstruction efforts, TPS was implemented partially under the impression that Salvadorans seeking refuge in the U.S would send part of their earned income back to their relatives in the ravaged Central American nation. Once he took office, Former President Obama continued his predecessor’s legacy by renewing these protections, allowing the initial eighteen month policy to span across almost two decades. Now, with President Trump’s decision to terminate them, affected Salvadorans have until September of 2019 to leave the country and their lives here behind.
Rush is upon us. For hundreds of first-year students at Duke, the following few weeks will represent an endless, stressful schedule of constant socializing and partying in order to secure a place in one of the many selective Greek organizations on campus. Unfortunately, the well-established social primacy of Greek life has the ramifications of inculcating a toxic, exclusionary social culture that many of us had hoped was left behind in our respective high schools. Often, in order to be recognized as valuable in Duke’s Greek-dominated social scene, one must gain accession to the most elite of fraternities the campus has to offer. However, being admitted into these time honored brotherhoods isn’t as simple as having the charisma and wit to charm older members. These organizations often select new members on the basis of things like finances—manifesting as whether or not hopeful students have the ability to pay dues—leaving lower income prospective rushees at a disadvantage from the get-go. Consequently, the fraternity-spearheaded culture—to which we sometimes find ourselves prisoners of—further risks ingraining deep socio-economic divisions into Duke social hierarchy. Moreover, the deeply entrenched gender essentialist nature of Greek life fraternity-sorority leaves some to wonder where non-binary members of our community can find a place of belonging. At an institution that promotes knowledge in the service of society and equality above all, this seems mildly concerning at best.
Welcome back to Duke everyone! As some of our beloved university’s 15,000 students head back into the safety and warmth (relatively speaking of course) of the Duke bubble, change seems to be in the air in the spirit of the new year. On East, the sound of old, first-semester first-year friendships disintegrating in the face of rush has finally overtaken the sound of construction with the completion of Duke’s newest mega-dorm. Here in the offices of the Chronicle, the electoral process for selecting a new editor in chief for the 114th volume is underway in order to truly “Make the Chronicle great again!” Meanwhile, on editorial board, things are very much the same despite the new year; merrily we go on critiquing and commenting on campus life and the outside world in our safe little glass box in West Union.
With reading period on the horizon and the onset of winter weather gracing campus, many Duke students and faculty members are already preparing for the holiday season ahead. One of the more difficult aspects of this time of year is hunting for those perfect gifts for the special people in one’s life. The Editorial Board has decided to alleviate some of that strain by collecting the wish lists of some prominent campus groups. As the collective voice of the student body at Duke, the Editorial Board has subsequently submitted these wish lists to the office of President Price for further consideration.
In their time on campus, most Duke students will eventually see some of their peers working jobs ranging from wrestling with jammed staplers behind the library information desk to scanning armfuls of late night snacks in the Lobby Shop. Those classmates are likely some of the many undergraduates employed by the university through work-study programs as a part of financial aid packages offered. Students are often compensated at around $10 per hour and have a wide range of positions available on DukeList with varying hours. On the surface, it may seem like a great opportunity to supplement a pizza budget or save up to buy a new gadget, but part-time employment can also often be a burden that comes with being low income at Duke.
On Tuesday, an article published by the Chronicle highlighted Duke Student Government’s many issues with attendance policies yet again. Although the article did suggest that as a whole the organization has somewhat improved upon its past problems with poor attendance, it nonetheless struggles with this chronic issue under Ganguly’s tenure, evidenced by judicial proceedings against a number of DSG senators with unexcused absences. The problems faced by DSG are in no way unique. Whether it be an intramural sports team or a student-led activist group, many clubs and organizations at Duke have most likely dealt with poor attendance issues among a high-achieving student body. At an elite university with so many accomplished students involved in a wide-variety of campus pursuits, it is worth exploring why exactly certain organizations like DSG are currently dealing with poor attendance issues.
Finals are approaching, bringing with them high levels of anxiety and stress. From first-year students nervous for their first bout of Duke final exams to seniors worried about uncertain post-graduation plans, finals week is a period of heightened mental exhaustion. Similar mental fatigue surrounding the Duke experience is not uncommon during other times of the year, including during rush or job recruitment. We encourage students who face converging pressures from each facet of life to not feel as if they are uniquely suffering in a sea of “effortless perfection.” Seeking treatment for pain, depression or other negative feelings is normal and encouraged. Moreover, in light of recent criticisms of CAPs and other treatment options on campus, it is imperative that the administration improves upon its commitment in providing adequate mental health resources for the many Duke students who suffer from mental ailments.
Just before 2 a.m. ET, the Senate passed a heavily annotated and mystery-shrouded tax reform bill that is projected to add a trillion dollars to the US deficit. Republican leaders spent the days leading up to the vote desperately adding provisions to sway GOP senators who were still wary and making last minute changes to the bill—with some even scrawling handwritten revisions into the margins. The content of the bill itself is deeply worrisome, but what is also a cause for alarm is the unsanctimonious method by which it was ramrodded through Congress. This decidedly undemocratic process seems all too painfully familiar in an administration that has become so comfortable with circumventing legislative tradition and procedure. Moreover, complicit within this legislative tax heist against the American people is the Republican Party, which has reached a historic low in its dishonorable political double standards in the Trump era.
On Monday, a White House ceremony that was to honor World War II Navajo Code Talkers transformed into a disgraceful display of racial insensitivity when President Donald Trump mockingly referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” Trump, perhaps not so ironically, gave the speech while standing in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson, who in 1830 signed the Indian Removal Act that forced thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral lands. Similar to his past racially insensitive remarks, Trump’s comment immediately drew harsh criticism from Native American groups, leaders, politicians and the families of the Navajo veterans.
Last Saturday, The New York Times published a controversial article that profiled the seemingly benign daily existence of a Tony Hovater, an Ohio neo-Nazi. The backlash has been swift and unforgiving, leading the Times’s national editor to publish a response explaining their editorial decision to publish the article. Though we respect the journalistic spirit upon which this article was written, its crude implementation must nonetheless be condemned.
On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal by chairman Ajit Pai to repeal net neutrality. While the term has been generating a significant amount of buzz, the complex web of interests and politics behind it can make it difficult to understand. Net neutrality refers to an Obama-era FCC measure to regulate the internet as a utility and “[prohibit] broadband providers from elevating one kind of content over another.” With its future in the balance as of late, this hot button regulatory classification has been the subject of heated—and potentially fabricated—debate in the internet comment section of the FCC website, a discussion forum only possible because of the very utility whose fate the proposal controls. This decision will undoubtedly have ramifications for all of us, and these ongoing exchanges allow us to evaluate the power money has in our political system.
In light of recent sexual assault and harassment charges against iconic cultural icons like Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K and Charlie Rose, various high-profile media outlets and production companies have officially severed their ties with these once acclaimed public figures. The message being sent by the entertainment industry is clear: sexual assault and harassment, no matter how iconic the perpetrator is, will not be tolerated anymore. Despite the clear decisiveness on the part of the media for disavowing themselves from these high-profile perpetrators, a lingering question still remains: what to do with their iconic work?
Waking up to new, unsettling headlines implicating powerful men in instances of coercion and sexual violence have now become the new norm for many. This past week was no exception when allegations of sexual harassment were leveled against Charlie Rose, an American television journalist, talk show host and Duke alumnus. His alleged behavior comes as a shock for some admirers, even with the outpour of accusations placed against prominent figures like Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. and Harvey Weinstein. While Charlie Rose wasn’t the first person to be accused since the “me too” hashtag went viral—and, unfortunately, will likely not be the last—his connection to Duke necessitates a conversation about how our university fails to prevent predators and the ripples of harm that neglect can cause.
On Sunday afternoon, Duke senior Gabrielle Stewart was announced as one of 32 Rhodes Scholars in the United States, making her the 46th student to accrue such an honor in the university’s history. Stewart is also a Benjamin N. Duke Scholar, which is one of three fully merit based scholarships offered by our institution. Both programs theoretically function, first and foremost, to reward talent and noteworthy promise in the recipient, as opposed to need-based awards that are primarily concerned with demonstrable financial constraints. While students receiving merit-based aid at Duke are no doubt extremely accomplished individuals, a deeper analysis of what circumstances facilitate those types of extraordinary achievement is needed.
Last Thursday, Justin Caldbeck, the disgraced ventured capitalist and Duke alumni (Trinity, ‘99), was on campus to speak to students in a finance class about the dangers of “bro-culture.” Caldbeck famously resigned this past summer from Binary Capital, a leading venture capital firm in the Silicon Valley, amidst a wave of sexual harassment claims by female peers in the industry. According to Bloomberg Businessweek and The Chronicle, Caldbeck gave a 51-slide presentation to about 50 students in which he highlighted the toxic masculinity inherent within the Silicon Valley and at Duke. Caldbeck, in speaking to the class, also stated that he took “full responsibility for his actions” and highlighted the “importance of speaking out against sexual harassment.”
On Tuesday, at least a hundred gunshots were heard at Rancho Tehama Elementary School in Northern California, where four were killed and two were injured, and all the while America shrugged. This tragedy was most recently preceded by a shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas that claimed the lives of at least 26 community members. In total, thirty lives were lost in the course of a week. While the shooting in Sutherland Springs attracted large-scale media coverage, the nation has largely been silent in the aftermath of Tuesday’s shooting. It seems that for the most part, for most of the country, the elementary school shooting simply never occurred.
Scholars at Princeton University recently unveiled their “Princeton and Slavery” project, which aims to “investigate the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery.” The efforts of Princeton researchers to acknowledge their university’s connection to slavery comes as part of a recent wave by some of the nation’s most elite universities to atone for past institutional wrongdoings. Georgetown University has announced perhaps the most concrete strategy for atoning for its past role in selling 272 slaves, providing admissions preference to their descendants. As many schools across the country come to terms with less savory elements from their institutional histories, we at Duke should also seek to reckon with our own historical skeletons that remain buried within the catacombs of the Gothic Wonderland.