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A week ago, our fellow North Carolinian Keith Lamont Scott, a disabled black man, was fatally shot by a Charlotte police officer while exiting his vehicle. Officers encountered Scott sitting in his vehicle, allegedly smoking marijuana, outside his apartment while waiting for his son to arrive home from school. Police officers claim that Scott had a firearm at the time, but recently released footage shows no evidence that Scott was holding a gun, and given North Carolina’s open carry laws, even if Scott were holding a weapon, this would be insufficient to warrant his forcible disarming and death. Protests have been ongoing in Charlotte since Scott’s death as part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement which has brought attention to the disproportionate number of police killings of Black Americans.
Tonight, the first presidential debate of the 2016 elections will be aired from Hofstra University. Amidst midterms, papers and homework, students may recognize that their time is a finite resource and may not feel inclined to watch the presidential debate, dismissing this election as a foregone conclusion even though recent polls do not support this. Despite the hyper-politicization of this year’s election, however, we encourage students to truly engage with tonight’s debate.
As the specter of midterms looms ever closer, the last thing on many students’ minds is putting away notes, sitting down and spending some quality time with a novel. Actually, that statement can be broadened. Fiction’s low priority status for most students is not just constrained to the weeks around exam time: it’s lifelong and unchanging. There exists an idea that because pleasure reading is neither homework nor a resume-booster, it is not worth doing. Busy students see no benefit to cracking open a non-required novel in their spare time. While admittedly time is always short, homework is always long and Netflix is always calling, students ought to take a few breaks for fiction. Fiction is beneficial, culturally significant and just as importantly, plain old fun.
As midterm season looms, so does the familiar set of “hell week” studying rituals that accompany it: late nights in Perkins, frantic read-throughs of textbooks, high-dose coffee binges and, for some students, the abuse of prescription ADHD drugs. A 2009 study found that nine percent of the student body illicitly uses ADHD medications like Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta, most commonly to improve concentration while studying. Such prescription drug abuse raises not only moral concerns about academic fairness, but also questions about the kind of campus culture that might drive struggling students to seek dangerous resources in order to achieve academic success.
Earlier this year, the long-awaited West Union finally opened to students. Although there is certainly room to admire the beauty of West Union, in light of the almost $90 million cost of constructing the building, today we aim to critique certain negatives of the new glass box.
Last week, the U.S. News & World Report released its latest rankings of colleges and universities in the nation, ranking Duke eighth once again. Even though the U.S. News & World Report's list is often regarded as the foremost guide to college rankings, a variety of publications have tackled this business, employing their unique metrics, which are generally considered incomplete. However, during stressful job recruitment and graduate school application seasons, rankings still tend to occupy many students’ minds. Given that, we question how relevant and useful these rankings are, particularly in the context of recent national dialogue on the importance and utility of a college education.
As faculty evaluate a new curriculum, the proposed class about the Duke experience for all first-year students highlights an emphasis on reflection. Considering this and a potential requirement for students to pursue an additional program of study alongside their primary major, we recognize the importance of reconsidering the current major declaration schedule and explore the possibility of moving major declaration to sophomore fall.
In response to discriminatory policies enacted by House Bill 2, the NCAA announced this Monday that they will relocate all championship games previously scheduled to take place in North Carolina this academic year. The NCAA Board of Governors explicitly cited “cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections” as impetus for this decision – a decision which economic development officials say will amount to a projected $20 million in lost revenue for North Carolina. As private companies actively disengage from North Carolina’s public sector in response to the bill, our political citizenship as a student body (encompassing individuals directly affected by this legislature) must be re-evaluated and re-heightened.
Operating within a busy schedule of information sessions, coffee chats and events like the Career Fair and TechConnect, students have been sweating under the pressure of the lingering summer heat and the turn of a new semester, formalwear aside. The shared anxiety of planning for the future and striving toward success can invite comparison and unrealistic expectations for yourself, especially when many are seeking well-paying and prestigious jobs and internships. In what often feels like a rat race among Duke students and other applicants, it is tempting to impose value judgments on another's choices. However, rather than attend to what positions others are applying for or guessing why they are doing so, we encourage students to make their own career decisions for themselves, focusing consciously on developing themselves and introspecting on their motivations.
Fifteen years ago, American citizens carried out their daily routines—reading the mail, commuting to work, dropping their children off at school—when the national consciousness changed forever. September 11 has had an undeniable, lasting impact on the United States, from airport security to our sense of patriotism. Over time, 9/11 has been obfuscated by politicization, and the lives lost have been overshadowed by agendas using the tragedy as a platform to debate militarization and immigration. On the anniversary of 9/11, we recognize the importance of taking a step back from politics to acknowledge that this day was more than just a national loss. It was a human tragedy, and it should be treated as such.
This year, the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies department will host a series on transgender studies and the humanities with support from the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Mellon Foundation. In light of their commendable effort, today we suggest further avenues to bolster Duke’s effort to promote trans-specific scholarship, advocating for the expansion of funding and course offerings for the field of transgender studies.
Dedicated readers of The Chronicle may have noticed by now that along with the handful of alternating biweekly columns, random letters-to-the-editor and aleatory published community comments that make up the newspaper’s opinion section, there is one stalwart piece of writing that appears every day—a 520-580-word column penned by an author who goes by the odd name of “Editorial Board.”
In light of an upcoming new curriculum, we revisit Duke’s emphasis on a liberal arts education. This curriculum aims to teach us diverse ways to analyze any question and, hopefully, use the answer to better our communities. It is a critical thinking degree. Such an education finds its roots in ancient Rome when the major “arts” included music, astronomy, geometry and arithmetic. In recognizing this, we notice the missing mathematics requirement in our liberal arts curriculum and encourage the implementation of the requirement by weighing its benefits and drawbacks.
September 10 is World Suicide Awareness Day, which we utilize as a time to reflect on mental health issues affecting students on campus. Many students during their Duke careers feel isolated amongst their peers, plagued with unsettling transitions and burdened with educational expectations. For incoming first-years, new environments create stressors in unpredictable ways. For outgoing seniors, potentially-uncertain future plans can initiate uncontrollable anxiety. Converging pressures from each facet of life tend to accumulate with time, and many students feel as if they are uniquely suffering on a campus that brings others joy.
Two weeks ago, Duke Student Government president Tara Bansal addressed first-years as part of Convocation. Standing at the podium, she offered them a piece of advice: “Whatever you do, never allow yourself to get comfortable.” As the 2016-17 school year begins, we, in turn, would like to offer that advice to the whole of DSG. It is our sincerest hope that by focusing on improving communication, restructuring internally and returning to its fundamental purposes, DSG can turn the tides of student apathy and remove the grounds many have had for perennial criticisms of it.
Last week, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew vitriol from fans when he chose to protest racial inequalities in America by refusing to stand during the national anthem. While Kaepernick’s act of protest was, legally, a legitimate exercise of the First Amendment, critics accused him of being unpatriotic and anti-American. The outrage surrounding Kaepernick's protest raises deeper questions of what it means to be patriotic, and whose free speech the public deems legitimate.
On August 23, just as graduate students around the country were preparing to return to campus, the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) issued a ruling with the potential to greatly improve workplace quality for a great many of them. In a 3-1 decision, the NLRB determined that graduate students at private universities, like Duke, are workers who have the right to form unions and collectively bargain. Their decision comes after a decades long struggle for the proper recognition of graduate student research and teaching work at private universities. As the campaign for graduate student unionization at Duke moves forward, undergraduate students may be asking themselves, "What does this mean for me?" In today’s editorial, we explore the answer to that question and ponder the effects of unionization on graduate students, themselves.
This semester has brought a considerable amount of new things to campus: West Union, the class of 2020 and, for rising seniors, the anxiety of post-graduation planning. On top of their normal classwork, seniors are now pressed with the intimidating task of preparing for a life outside of Duke. For some, that means mastering the MCAT; for others, that means persevering through Ph.D. applications; for others still, that means beginning harrowing hunt for a job; for all, it means serious thought about the meaning of a successful life. As the semester and year carry on, seniors would do well to reflect on how they define personal success. They would also do well, as their eyes turn beyond Duke, to consider how they might help out their younger peers in order to line them, too, up for success.
Yesterday, we published an editorial in which we stressed the necessary role of safe spaces on college campuses. The editorial was written in response to ongoing discussions about a University of Chicago dean’s controversial letter to freshmen, in which he denigrated safe spaces, declaring them inconsistent with the ideals of academic freedom. As Duke establishes the Sanford Safe Space and expands the Center for Multicultural Affairs into the Bryan Center, we find it imperative to delve into the spirit of Dean Ellison’s letter, explore the context that led to its issuance, critique its wording and argue against the false dichotomy it presents.
This month, a letter written by the University of Chicago’s dean of students to its incoming class reenergized the stream of think pieces online about safe spaces. The debate is often complicated by the tendency of participants to dig into their positions at the very mention of “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.” We believe however, that the ferocity and political nature of the debate has obscured the simple values behind safe spaces. We challenge students to think with clear minds on these issues and reflect on their role in creating a cooperative and productive university community for themselves and their peers.