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Fighting back against alt-facts

(01/26/17 6:04am)

On Tuesday afternoon, the official Badlands National Park Twitter account sent out a series of tweets related to climate change and environmental science. The account’s action was hardly attention-grabbing (nor unprecedented) considering that its “owner” is one of many federally-recognized ecological preservation parks. However, these specific tweets were sent in the aftermath of the newly-inaugurated President Trump’s ban on Environmental Protection Agency employees speaking to reporters or distributing information about research. The ban may have been interpreted as a symbolic gag order: the Badlands tweets were quickly deleted. If it seems odd that a person would make and delete tweets about climate change from a public parks Twitter account, that is because it is. The urgency and fear that motivated a National Parks employee to desperately tweet out simple, dry facts that would bring attention to basic scientific concepts can only be understood in a context where certain facts are being institutionally pushed out of government discourse—in this case, by Donald Trump. Within his first week in office, Trump has targeted free speech, common factual archiving and clear boundaries of truth. Through various proxies, he has attempted to drag people into a world of “truthiness” and gray facts.

You, me and the trustees

(01/25/17 12:17pm)

At its weekly meeting on January 18, the DSG Senate had its first reading for an updated amendment concerning the number of seats on the Board of Trustees that are reserved for members of DSG. The amendment is a revised version of a similar proposal that the DSG Senate ultimately rejected in the spring of 2016. As it currently stands, five of the eight student positions on the Board of Trustees committees are reserved and occupied exclusively by DSG vice presidents and presidents, with the remaining three open to representatives from the student body at large. The updated amendment would instead place one DSG member on each of the five committees with a seat reserved for the DSG president. The remaining five open positions on the committees would be open to the general student body to apply for.

Women take Washington

(01/24/17 6:26am)

On January 21, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, an estimated 500,000 people took to the streets of Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March. Across the nation, they were joined by 3.2 million more in cities from New York to Los Angeles. After a bitter and divisive election cycle, the march brought together protesters of all genders, races and ages in a moment of hopeful catharsis. The movement was significant not only for its sheer size and level of coordination—sister marches cropped up in 161 cities around the world—but also because of the wide-ranging platform it espoused. While many recent popular movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter have centered on one issue, signs and chants at the Women’s March reflected a smorgasbord of causes, from women’s reproductive rights, racial equality and environmental protection to LGBTQ rights, immigration reform and disability rights. Politically, that Donald Trump’s first day in office was marked by a sign-touting flood of protesters in the nation’s capital denouncing his comments and policy proposals while voicing pride in progressivism, sent a clear message of resistance towards the new administration.

In search of economic diversity

(01/23/17 5:41am)

A recently published New York Times infographic that documented the wealth of college students’ households sent a wave of electricity through Duke’s campus, sparking discussions about income diversity at the university and Duke’s image as an elite institution of higher education. Drawing on millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records collected at the Equality of Opportunity Project, the infographic painted an image of Duke as a center of education in large part dedicated to the children of the 1 percent rather than as a great equalizer.

​Bridging the gap

(01/19/17 5:00am)

On Monday, Duke Partnership for Service held a series of community project events within the city of Durham in spirit of Martin Luther Jr. Day. We commend this effort by the organization since on other days of the year, it is difficult to encourage many Duke students to venture off campus and serve the larger Durham community.

​Reflecting on recruitment

(01/18/17 9:29am)

The start of the Spring semester always accompanies the beginning of the formalized rush processes for fraternities, sororities and other selective living groups on campus. Specifically, last weekend, the Panhellenic Association began its intensive recruitment process. During the two weekends of rush, potential new members find themselves scrambling to connect to current members of the sororities at Duke in hopes of receiving bids to lifelong sisterhoods and networks. However, success during the rush process for fraternities, sororities and other selective living groups is not governed by any precise formula. Couple the vagueness of the selection criteria with the limited number of spots available, and the rush process generates a palpable atmosphere of anxiety and excitement on campus.

A Bildungsroman of our generation

(01/17/17 2:39pm)

On Friday, President Barack Obama will formally step down after leading the country for what has arguably been an iconic eight years. With such a momentous transition of power days away, media institutions all across the country continue to examine the legacy of President Obama with both a critical and positive eye. The NY Times editorial board recently eulogized the president’s legacy, claiming that his “eloquence ranks with that of Abraham Lincoln.” On the other end of the journalistic spectrum, some have argued a more negative appraisal of the Obama years. The Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby went as far as to claim that “In almost every respect, Obama leaves behind a trail of failure and disappointment.”

As spring rises, AP falls

(01/13/17 5:25pm)

Among the new components of the Imagine Duke curriculum to be voted on by members of the Arts & Sciences Council later this semester is the elimination of Advanced Placement credit at Duke. Opponents of the elimination see the decision as an obnoxiously paternalistic decision at best and a heavy-handed cash grab at worst; proponents, however, have suggested that allowing students to use AP credits to skip classes detracts from a robust academic experience by prematurely aborting what is meant to be a full eight-semester experience. We, the Editorial Board, agree with proponents that AP credit should be removed, but believe compensatory adjustments are necessary.

2017: Looking back and forging ahead

(01/12/17 6:54am)

As Duke students trudge into the first days of a new semester and people across the United States begin the 2017 work year, a certain lugubrious aura of dissatisfaction seems to permeate the national mood. According to Gallup polls, only 27 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction the nation was taking, and less than half of Americans are confident in the president elect’s ability to successfully govern. Politically polarizing events and trends from previous year(s)—accusations of Russian hacking, the presidential election, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the rise of the “alt-right” and racial unrest—divide our nation into belligerent tribes. Especially on college campuses, the mood seems cynical, almost pessimistic, as the world transitions into 2017.

Change in the new year

(01/11/17 5:10am)

As snow melts away, taking winter break with it, Duke’s campus and students ready themselves for a fresh spring semester. Seniors, all too aware of the dwindling number of days they have left at Duke, will think back to their early years on campus, reflecting and reminiscing over past experiences and looking to make as many new memories as possible. Non-seniors will become wrapped up in the cyclical frenzy of rush, tenting, concerts and the joyous (if temporary) relief of new classes. Even on their separate tracks though, both groups will eventually become enveloped by the fever of spring as they look anxiously and excitedly towards summer. As they sprint through spring semester, changing, growing and evolving, their school will do the same.

​Less procrastination, more collaboration

(12/08/16 5:04am)

Final papers season has arrived, and for many of us, the grueling writing process it brings with it can be dread-inducing as we slog through piles of articles, open soul-crushing numbers of browser tabs and agonizingly inch toward required page counts. Consequently, we fall into a vicious cycle of procrastination, where the prospect of starting to write becomes increasingly daunting as time passes, until we are left with no choice but to pull frantic all-nighters before the deadline. Research on student writing habits find that this fear and anxiety many students feel about writing is far from uncommon. One study found that 80 percent of students interviewed procrastinated on more than 80 percent of their course-related research assignments, and that more than 85 percent of all students across the disciplines experience writing difficulties at some point during their university career.

Protest for progress

(12/07/16 3:14pm)

This past Saturday, The Loyal White Knights of the KKK planned to make their presence strongly felt in the state of North Carolina. Their grand march, intended to be a celebration of the election of Donald Trump and a reassertion of white supremacist ideals, was instead relegated to a small vehicular caravan in Roxboro. And although the planning of the KKK march demonstrated a resurgence in public white nationalism, the real story of the day was the effectiveness of the protests that drove them off and the general efficacy of such demonstrations as a mechanism of democracy.

Learn Spain, not Spanish

(12/06/16 5:03am)

In light of the upcoming revisions to the Duke Trinity curriculum, today we visit the unpopular foreign language requirement. The Trinity College of Arts & Science website argues that the foreign language requirement fulfills three goals: personal growth, global understanding and professional growth. We believe that the requirement should indeed fulfill those goals but that it fails to in its current state. In today’s editorial, we propose a more nuanced alternative to it that better fits student needs and manages to meet each of Trinity’s goals.

Ushering in the Price administration

(12/05/16 3:02pm)

On July 1, 2017, Richard Brodhead will formally step down as the 9th president of Duke University after over 13 years at the helm. In his place, current University of Pennsylvania provost Vincent Prince will begin his tenure as the 10th president of Duke University. Price will inherit from Brodhead a dynamic university that consists of 15,000 students, 3500 faculty members, 36,000 employees and over 150,000 active alumni. When he begins his service to the university, he will inherit a task of gargantuan proportion equal to those numbers: successfully administrating Duke’s colossal multifaceted campus community.

Casting Castro

(12/02/16 5:14am)

Death, in general, is complicated to talk about and emotionally charged, but the death of controversial political figures can stir up even stronger feelings. In the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, we are faced with the same question we had when Antonin Scalia and Nancy Reagan died earlier this year: how do we talk about and remember highly politicized people after their passing? The recent election has magnified already heightened feelings of polarization and division, making finding a balanced analysis of a politician's life nearly impossible. This is especially true for a person as polemic as Castro. In order to truly understand figures like the late Cuban leader, it is important to step back and contextualize his rule, taking a holistic approach to examining his life.

Putting students first

(12/01/16 5:16am)

In the wake of Donald J. Trump’s victory, students and faculty across the nation have signed petitions calling on their universities to protect undocumented students, who face threats of deportation under the incoming administration. President-elect Trump has promised to deport millions of immigrants and has proposed ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a law that grants undocumented students who arrived in the United States as children work permits and temporary protection from deportation. School leaders have voiced concerns that DACA-beneficiaries may be particularly vulnerable under the proposed immigration laws because of a federal database with their information. In response, a petition calling for Duke to establish itself as a “sanctuary campus” has received more than 500 signatures, and President Richard Brodhead has signed a statement joining over 350 university presidents in support of maintaining DACA.

An obstruction of justice

(11/30/16 5:01am)

After December 19, all healthcare facilities, abortion clinics and hospitals in Texas will be required by state law to properly bury or cremate fetal remains. Despite intense debate around the new legislation since it was first proposed in early July, Republican Governor Greg Abbott swiftly approved the law this month. In defending the new legislation, he asserted that he did not believe fetuses should be “treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.” While the law can be viewed as a compromise intended to make amends for ideological differences, it presents an unjustified barrier to a constitutional right to abortions, even before questions of the abortion issue itself enter the conversation.