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This weekend, Duke will host prospective students for the annual Black Student Alliance Invitational (BSAI). The events of the weekend—including panel discussions with current students, a mixer between the Black Women’s Union and Black Men’s Union and National Pan-Hellenic Council step show—are open to all Duke students, but serve to provide a glimpse of life on campus for students deciding between Duke and other colleges and universities. We commend efforts by the Black Student Alliance and the Undergraduate Admissions Office in conducting such a large-scale event, and as the weekend approaches, we reflect on the purpose of BSAI and what it might signal for our community.
As the major declaration process ends with the “Academic Homecoming: Major Madness” event Wednesday evening, many sophomores will indubitably find themselves picking up a t-shirt with the name of a major that they are less than excited about. Some will likely ask themselves whether they might have made a bad choice in choosing a “practical major” rather than one they are passionate about. Regardless of feelings or situations, all students should realize that although choosing a course of study is important, it need not be a high-pressure, life-defining decision.
Last Friday, in a high stakes match of politic chicken that pitted President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan against members of their own party, the Affordable Care Act was set to the guillotine. Repealing the act, colloquially known as Obamacare, had long been a goal of all three actors and groups, and each was eager to see to its demise. But the groups had different ideas about how that demise should look, and by mid-afternoon on Friday it became clear that those ideas could not be reconciled. After a short drama, Ryan’s repeal-and-replace bill was pulled from the House, and the Affordable Care Act was left, in the words of Paul Ryan, “the law of the land.” Today we explore what that means both for the country at large, and for us as students.
Jayson Tatum, a freshman forward on the Duke men’s basketball team, recently announced his intentions to leave the university and enter the NBA draft. Following the steps of his one-and-done predecessors, Tatum became the seventh player over the last six seasons to forgo his three remaining years of NCAA eligibility at Duke to pursue a professional career in the NBA. His decision to go professional after only one year as a Blue Devil is part of a larger trend in college basketball where it is increasingly becoming commonplace for players to announce their eligibility for the NBA immediately after the required one year of NCAA participation.
On Monday, James H. Ball Sr. and Wendy A. Ball, parents of Duke alumni, published a letter in the Chronicle establishing the cessation of their long-standing monetary support for the University, in light of political and atmospheric changes they have perceived to be harmful. This letter mirrors a growing trend among alumni donors of colleges and universities across the nation as campuses adopt more liberal climates. We respect the right of all donors to offer their monetary support to the University on their own terms and acknowledge their right to terminate their donations when they see fit. Nevertheless, we utilize this opportunity to respond to the Ball family in defense of a progressing university.
Yesterday, we opposed Duke’s decision to allow Charles Murray to speak on campus, echoing concerns voiced during the Middlebury College student protests in response to Murray’s visit to the school. By protesting the inappropriate invitation, these students joined the ranks of liberal college students across the nation who are labelled victims of “emotional coddling” and “intellectual impoverishment” by conservative opinion columnists. Due to such think pieces, liberal college students are charged with chilling conservative voices on campus, holding their hands over their ears to mute valid ideas and robbing others on campus of an exposure to the “real world.” However, protests like those at Berkeley and at Middlebury are not symptomatic of some soft and vulnerable class of college students who cannot learn and engage with contrary material. They are evidence of the opposite.
On Tuesday Charles Murray spoke on campus at event organized by students involved with the American Enterprise Institute and the Duke College Republicans. While our student body’s response was not on par with Middlebury’s mobilization to Murray’s visit on their campus, his visits always stoke conversations about free speech and protests. Those who support Murray’s coming to campus this year and in 2013 often cite an interest in free speech, and Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, expressed that the university had “no reservations whatsoever.” However, Murray’s previous work merits much closer scrutiny than the average speaker. In our view, AEI and DCR were wrong to invite him to speak on campus, and his presence is an affront to the very students his previous works diminish as well as the educational mission of our University, especially its commitments to diversity and academic excellence.
Amidst media fervor about Russian hackers, Republican infighting and fake presidential wiretaps, a previously controversial situation has quietly evolved beyond notice of the general populace: the nomination for Antonin Scalia’s vacated seat on the Supreme Court. On Monday, United States Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch began confirmation hearings to fill the seat. Gorsuch, a spiritual successor to Scalia, was nominated by President Donald Trump almost two months ago in a move to restore a conservative majority to the Supreme Court. Although a highly qualified judge, Gorsuch’s path to the Court was made sordid by the obstructionist malfeasance of the Republican party.
This past week, nearly 100 first-years and sophomores spent their Spring Breaks on campus participating in the inaugural offering of Spring Breakthrough. Spring Breakthrough, the brainchild of Provost Sally Kornbluth, is a five-day program offered to underclassmen during which students can take an interactive seminar course free of charge during the spring recess. In addition to free education, students participating in the program are provided meals and extra Flex points to cover dining during the duration of break.
Duke always garners attention in the media because our student body fascinates the nation. The wealth, the power and the selectivity Duke represents are the makings of any good click-bait title, so I will be giving the world a sneak peek into the secret and mysterious lives of Duke students. Just like your average undergraduate here, I am a white, aggressively heterosexual male. I like the simple things in life: beer, income inequality and disrespecting sorority sisters. My father is an investment banker and my mother is a corporate litigator, so, in order to uphold the family tradition of making life harder for poor people, I am pursuing a degree in economics.
The U.S Supreme Court announced earlier this week that it would forego any judicial decision on the Gavin Grimm case and instead send the suit back to the lower courts for further debate. This decision comes after President Trump’s controversial decision in late February to revoke a federal mandate from the Obama presidency protecting the rights of transgender students to use public school restrooms of their preferred gender identity. The Supreme Court’s decision to abstain from the case is viewed by many as a major setback for transgender rights, already reeling from the implementation of so-called “bathroom” laws in a number of states.
Last Friday, the Provost’s office held an all-day forum on race, policing and the broader justice system in the United States. Over nine hours, speakers from across the country, including law professors, sociology professors, police chiefs and activists, gathered in panels to discuss and debate. The event, free for students, offered a chance for members of the Duke community to gain intimate knowledge of the intersection between policing and race relations that all too often makes news headlines with tragedy, but rarely generates educated conversation. Duke graduate students and professional students clearly recognized the importance of the opportunity, showing up in droves to attend the event. Duke undergraduates, however, did not. In a sad demonstration of apathy, they largely spurned the day-long event.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, Duke undergraduates will elect the next president and executive vice president of Duke Student Government.The newly-revised duties of the executive vice president will no longer include chairing the Senate, instead re-centering around external duties like executing policy agendas and connecting campus leaders to the administration. Today, the Editorial Board endorses current DSG Chief of Staff Kushal Kadakia for the role. In his interview with us and his broader campaign, Kadakia has demonstrated that he will serve as a thoughtful advocate for students from all walks of campus life. As one of the few unaffiliated students serving in the upper echelons of DSG, he brings a much-needed perspective on independent student experience to a Greek and SLG dominated system. Kadakia articulated a comprehensive plan for strengthening community in independent dorms to us, and was the only candidate this year to discuss how to level the playing field for unaffiliated students running in student government and Young Trustee races. In addition to appreciating his views on independent students, we were impressed by Kadakia’s willingness to honestly critique areas where DSG falls short, including the need to bring outside student voices to the table when undertaking projects and interacting with administration. Altogether, we believe his candidacy holds promise for moving DSG towards being more representative of the range of student interests and experiences.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, Duke undergraduates will elect the next president and executive vice president of Duke Student Government. Today, we will make an endorsement for the position of president, and later this evening, we will publish an endorsement for the executive vice president position.
With its final meetings of the semester approaching, the Arts and Science Council is deliberating the new Trinity curriculum proposal in preparation for an upcoming vote. Over the past year, members of the faculty, administration and student body were consulted about this complete overhaul of the current Trinity curriculum. As the dean of academic affairs noted, such monumental changes in trajectory “do not happen often historically,” so we utilize this opportunity to reflect on Duke’s niche among peer institutions.
The Board of Trustees recently approved a 4.3 percent tuition increase for the 2017-2018 academic year, bringing the total cost of a Duke undergraduate education to an estimated $68,298. As always, hordes of discontented students and their distraught parents went on Facebook to express their distaste at having to finance what is quickly becoming a gold-plated Duke education. Although an annual four percent tuition increase is often not surprising (it is even expected), the idea of having to fork over yet another few thousand dollars with no further explanation on the part of the administration is irksome to many Duke students. As active stakeholders of Duke University, we should be offered a concrete, detailed explanation detailing the exact reasons and provisions behind such increases rather than through a terse bureaucratic edict.
Last Saturday, the Democratic National Committee, the formal governing body of the national Democratic Party, held its first contested election for its Chair position since 1985. It comes at a historical moment when center-left parties across the world are in disarray against a rising tide of far-right populism. In France, the incumbent Socialist Party is running fourth in the polls, and Emmanuel Macron, a popular former minister who formed a new center-left party with the intent of preventing far-right candidate Marine Le Pen from taking the presidency, is predicted to lose to her in the first-round election. The past year has also seen insurgent far-right populist challenges in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy that have mirrored the run of Donald Trump last year.
Some of the last words Srinivas Kuchibhotla ever heard were “get out of my country.”
Last week, conservatives gathered at CPAC to hear a host of elected officials and activists give speeches, panel discussions and networking seminars centered around conservatism and its future in America. The spotlight quickly fell upon president Donald Trump as he unleashed a barrage of attacks on the “fake news” media, echoing his adviser Steve Bannon’s words characterizing the media as “globalist and corporatist” bogeyman.
In the midst of a monsoon of midterms and papers, harried Trinity sophomores might have seen an email from the Academic Advising Center on Tuesday reminding them that in two short weeks they would be required to submit major declarations. The email in question contained a checklist of eight or nine mandatory steps: “Create your ‘what if’ report,” “Write a brief reflection,” “Complete your advising survey,” etc. To a student who had just finished writing a paper analyzing themes of idolatry in “Paradise Lost” in an advanced English seminar or who had finally finished coding a complicated algorithm for a computer science class, the email, the included checklist and the entire major process probably seemed more like busy work than anything—something to blow off and push through. Today, we argue that without substantial revision, the major declaration process will remain just that.