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Historicizing North Korea

(09/18/17 4:00am)

Last Friday, North Korea successfully completed another round of missile launches as one landed several thousand miles off from northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. This test further heightened tensions with the United States and continued to stoke the flames of combative rhetoric between the Trump Administration and Kim Jong-un. Fear and uncertainty over these missile test runs has served as fodder for deepening divisiveness and has made the looming threat of nuclear confrontation seem increasingly viable to a bellicose Trump. All of this has manifested in predictably panicked news coverage as well as the obfuscation of historical and contemporary realities worth hashing out in order to gain a better sense of this political moment.

Diversity beyond percentages

(09/15/17 4:00am)

There is no shortage of conversation on diversity and multiculturalism coming out of Duke Administration, especially when in reference to the student body demographics. Over the years, this discourse seems to have produced some results as shown by a steadily increasing percentage of minority students at Duke, an area where other elite schools are stagnating. University officials chalk it up to a diverse applicant pool, courtesy of intentional efforts by the admissions office. While the process of recruiting and contacting historically underrepresented groups to join the Duke community is a crucial step towards promoting diversity, it is far from the final effort that should be made to foster a more hospitable campus. The current issue facing the university lies in solely focusing on bringing more students of color and lower socioeconomic statuses to campus, applauding ourselves for doing so and then not providing them with continuous institutional support that can ensure success once they arrive.

Duking it out over college rankings

(09/14/17 4:00am)

U.S News & World Report released its annual list of the so called “Best Colleges” in the country last Monday night, and since then, the results have been circulating across campus. Much to the surprise of current Blue Devils and Alumni alike, the new 2018 rankings placed Duke at 9th best in the national universities category, one spot lower than last year’s score of 8th. News of an unfavorable move within the data set widely considered to be the bible of college matchup, has inevitably disappointed many students, as evidenced by the many memes related to the topic featured on the Duke memes page. To see the university seemingly devalued overnight obviously has disheartened many within the Gothic Wonderland. It is important, however, to step back and consider the underlying reasons behind why such an arbitrary college ranking system seems to matter so much to certain members of the Duke community.

Join the editorial board

(09/13/17 4:00am)

If you think that journalism is going to the dogs, the newspaper is dying and opinion writing is moldering in the Trump era, there exists an obvious solution. Turn the tides and add your voice to the discussion; join the Chronicle’s independent Editorial Board! You might believe that your voice is unwanted—that as a social conservative, a democratic socialist or a down-the-middle centrist, there is no place for you on an ostensibly stodgy, institutionalized Editorial Board. If so, you are happily mistaken. This Editorial Board—like all good ones—is not bound by stale ideological homeostasis. At its best, it works by taking a potluck array of ideologically diverse people and opinions and swirling them together in debate until something magical happens—the social conservative and the democratic socialist find a point of agreement; a consensus opinion is formed, a solution is drafted and the structure of an editorial is formed. The process is not always easy, nor should it be. The board regularly takes up weighty issues, controversial policies and important people. This oftentimes that means criticizing and interrogating established institutions at Duke like the administration leadership or Greek organizations. When criticism is in the air, the loud process of editorial formation can sometimes be less than mellifluous. But we strongly believe that through discussion, even semi-heated discussion, we can arrive at solutions and opinions better than those we could arrive at with only a single person’s input and thoughts. Discussion and unified debate allow us to contribute something special to the student body and Duke community: a refined voice that adds value to discourse and prompts people and organizations to pay attention to key issues. In that way, joining and writing for the Editorial Board fulfills a civic and community duty—active engagement in discourse. A duty that can be fulfilled by marching in protests as well as contributing to necessary dialogue around contemporary issues by helping to write daily editorials read by thousands of students, faculty and staff. As a voice on the board, you will help form a broadcasted opinion that speaks out against injustice and praises progress. If you feel strongly that Greek organizations ought to advance efforts to combat sexual assault, believe aspersions should be cast upon putative Holy Grails on campus (including unpaid internship opportunities and the beloved Duke study abroad program) or even stand staunchly against all of our opinions, join us. Debate with us. Write with us. Use your passion to add to our voice and shape our editorials. Choose to not only be a student who learns in the classroom for the sake of learning, but one who learns so that they can apply their knowledge in the service of society as Duke’s mission statement requires us to. As our university, our state and our country rapidly hurtle through change and evolution, we on the Editorial Board seek to understand those changes and write opinions we believe will help others to understand and judge them too. We encourage you to join us and prove that yes—in 2017, journalism is still a powerful force. Email Sydney Roberts at as soon as possible to receive an application.

Remember the 11th of September

(09/12/17 4:00am)

It has been sixteen years since a catastrophic terrorist attack devastated New York City, and with it claiming thousands of innocent lives. 9/11 drastically altered both the lives of New Yorkers and the future of our nation. Every year Americans across the country observe a moment of silence or partake in prayer for the thousands of lives that were lost on that late summer day. While these respects are imperative to honor the loss of our fellow citizens, it is also vital to actively reflect on the events of September 11, 2001 in a more intimate manner. While we listen to the annual roll call of the lives lost, we should be cognizant about the effects that time has had on our memories and attachments to 9/11. We should reflect on how this day changed our country, New York, and our individual lives. 

Always a Blue Devil

(09/11/17 4:00am)

Everyone moves to their own beat. On this campus, everyone hums along to their own melody of hopes, dreams and ambitions that we push toward each day we wake up in our Gothic Wonderland. But with storms uprooting parts of the South and wildfires ravaging the West, we become painfully aware of our own frailty against the inevitability of tragedy. We pause and mourn the trauma that hit far too close to home for many among us. And some days, we carry heavy hearts, as we did this Friday when our classmate, Bobby Menges passed away. On these days, we stop as the sound of campus dims, as our own fears of death and its inevitability echo in our heads. 

Between housing and home

(09/08/17 4:00am)

With every new year comes renewed waves of academic rigor, the uptick of extracurricular commitments and the endless cycle of job recruitment. Preoccupied with opportunities like these at beginning of the semester, an average Duke student likely would not consider housing to be exactly on par with quintessential campus experiences like pulling all nighters with friends or organizing club events. However, living communities at Duke, given the three-year housing requirement, are far more fundamentally transformative than they are given credit for. The Crowell and Craven quads were long overdue for renovations, yet members of these quads who were relocated to shiny new Swift Avenue apartments are reporting being less than satisfied with their experiences so far. Particularly in terms of the dorm community. Charged with fostering these communities are resident assistants: undergraduates and graduate students who choose to facilitate connections within dorms while also living in them.

DACA beyond the numbers

(09/07/17 4:00am)

Nearly a week ago, President Vincent Price proactively penned a letter to President Trump arguing against repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. He cited the incalculable benefits that noncitizens and DACA recipients bring to campus as well as stressing a commitment to protecting all Duke students. However, despite opposition from Price, community leaders and politicians, the Trump administration moved ahead this week and announced the timeline for ending the program. This decision has incited panic and fear for the nearly 800,000 people protected by the Obama-era measures, including members of the Duke community, who are are once again finding themselves dehumanized and being reduced down to numbers and data points in public discourse. While Price’s words stood in stark contrast to the tepid responses of President Brodhead’s tenure, it is nonetheless concerning that his letter continues the trend of treating undocumented immigrants as only worth the sum of their academic achievements or the labor they produce.

Breaking bread on West

(09/06/17 4:00am)

A staple of the first-year experience here at Duke is dining at the beloved freshman dining hall, Marketplace. The first-year meal plan is designed so that our transition from enjoying meals at home to eating at Duke is guided by an access to a variety of meals from several buffets and the ability to dine exclusively with the freshmen community. This wholesome and communal experience shifts drastically sophomore year, when almost all our meals come from West Union and are eaten in a to-go container in the middle of our 10:05 physics lecture. Unfortunately, alternatives to West Union are inaccessible to most students who do not have access to pots and pans in their dorms. Those who do possess pots and pans face a limited assortment of fresh produce from the vendors on campus. There are tangible health and lifestyle issues that stem from the eating habits that the dining plan currently encourages. Luckily, there are also tangible solutions and long-term benefits.

Antifa fact check

(09/05/17 4:00am)

After the tragic death of an anti-fascist protester in Charlottesville early last month, President Trump came under intense criticism for his flawed official response to the tragedy. Specifically, the assertion he made regarding both white nationalists and the crowd protesting the white nationalists as being both equally at fault for the violence that transpired was condemned throughout the media as obtuse and factually distorted. The gaffe-prone president was inundated with criticism from politicians on both sides of the aisle while the White House prepared for the possibility of a legislative backlash as a result of this most recent explosion of public outrage. 

To run, or not to run

(09/04/17 4:00am)

With the academic year barely in its second week, many on East Campus are still in the midst of deciding which of the various extracurricular or co-curricular activities to join on campus. Quite naturally, these earnest freshmen—or at least a good number of them—will be turning their attention towards Duke Student Government’s annual elections for first-year senators. In a season characterized by aggressively shared Facebook posts, catchy slogans and endless campaign flyers, it is important to consider why so many Duke first-years feel so inclined to join DSG so early in the academic year. 

Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide

(09/01/17 4:00am)

As students finally settle back into the academic year, it seems that the Duke bubble—the seemingly impervious metaphysical barrier that prevents the many problems of the troubled outside world from disturbing the utopian tranquility of the Gothic Wonderland—has yet again set the mood of campus life. However, it would behoove us to remember that the lives of our fellow students do not begin or end within the walls of Duke. It is specifically pertinent to regard the experiences of students of color, who may be faced with assimilating back into campus life after a racially charged and emotionally taxing summer. The many concerning events that took place, throughout the Southeast and right here on our chapel steps, can understandably arouse particularly vulnerable and hostile feelings among black students especially. 

Preparing for post-Harvey

(08/31/17 4:00am)

As students scrambled to travel back to campus this past weekend, another struggle for relocation occurred in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall along the Texas coast. Displacement continued as catastrophic inland flooding affected the Greater Houston area (evacuations were not ordered locally for safety reasons) and the after-effects continue still as  torrential rain continues in more eastern areas, flooding thousands of homes. This tragedy elicits comparisons to another severe storm that struck as university classes were beginning in the fall of 2005, Hurricane Katrina.     

New year, new wages

(08/30/17 4:00am)

The start of the semester has brought more changes this year than just new classes and construction projects. In recent days, Duke announced plans to roll out a series of minimum wage increases for contracted workers and employees  on campus. Beginning July 1, 2017, the new baseline pay will be $14 which will be raised another dollar per hour the following year. This wage boost can mean a lot of things for employees and it’s important to understand the historical and political context  that this decision exists within.  

New year, new wages

(08/30/17 4:00am)

The start of the semester has brought more changes this year than just new classes and construction projects. In recent days, Duke announced plans to roll out a series of minimum wage increases for contracted workers and employees on campus. Beginning July 1, 2017, the new baseline pay will be $14 which will be raised another dollar per hour the following year. This wage boost can mean a lot of things for employees and it’s important to understand  the historical and political context that this decision exists within.

An unpardonable pardon

(08/29/17 7:00am)

Despite the objections from political figures like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senator John McCain and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, President Donald Trump officially fulfilled his controversial promise to pardon America’s most infamous sheriff, Joe Arpaio. At a campaign-style rally earlier in the week, Trump had asked the roaring crowd if the sheriff was “convicted for doing his job”. For those familiar with Joe Arpaio, the obvious answer was no — that two separate judges had not ruled against Arpaio for simply doing his job, but rather, had ruled against the Sheriff because he had systematically violated the civil rights of Americans by pulling over any drivers who looked Latino and had subsequently ignored a court order to stop. Although coverage of the Arpaio pardon has been understandably superseded by other news, the message that this pardon sent is so flagrantly distasteful that it merits a close study.

Bringing down Mr. Lee

(08/22/17 7:17pm)

Last Saturday morning, the Duke community awoke to find out about President Price’s decision to remove General Robert E. Lee’s effigy from the entrance of the Chapel. The carving of Lee has been at the forefront of a campus-wide debate that is itself an offshoot of a nation-wide conversation involving the historical integrity of Confederate monuments. On the heels of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville - which was gathered in part to object to the removal of a Confederate monument in a city park - Durham made national headlines last Monday after a group of protesters converged on the county courthouse and toppled a Confederate monument. Consequently, following such politically strained events, the Gothic Wonderland’s own carving of Robert E. Lee came under national scrutiny as well.

Healing the healthcare debate

(08/20/17 9:51pm)

In the past week, the news cycle has been jam-packed with a stream of controversial proclamations courtesy of President Trump’s Twitter account and heated debates over hot button topics. This includes a dramatic continuation of the long fought battle against the Affordable Care Act waged by Republicans that has been a reoccurring to-do item since Republicans took control of Congress. The rhetoric around healthcare has remained the same since Obamacare was first introduced, centering around the ideals of freedom of choice, the role of the market and costs of coverage. However, it’s easy to become desensitized to the consequences of debates that usually had in terms of numbers and budgets. The most recent attempt at repeal has further emphasized the morbid way healthcare and death are talked about in the political sphere, a trend that needs to be addressed and ended.

A school of dunks and drunks

(08/16/17 3:18pm)

Earlier last month, The Chronicle reported on the high instance of on-campus drinking at Duke. According to a recent survey by the American College Health Association, nearly 72.2 percent of Duke undergraduates reported consuming alcohol in the past month—nearly 10 percent higher than the reported national average. The same survey found that Duke outpaced other peer institutions in the usage of marijuana with nearly a quarter of all surveyed Duke students reporting to having smoked cannabis within the last 30 days.