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Pursuing student-faculty interactions

(08/30/16 6:18pm)

In the midst of the start-of-the-year flurry, first-years often hear a popular aphorism uttered amongst floods of advice: “make the most of your four years.” Making the most of a college experience necessarily requires taking advantage of the most essential resource on campus— faculty members. Conversing with faculty members can certainly seem intimidating: professors, TAs and teachers inherently hold power over students. If students can transcend initial discomfort, however, faculty communication of any degree can prove to be quite beneficial.

Realizing responsibility

(08/26/16 2:44pm)

On Wednesday, President Brodhead delivered a convocation speech to the Class of 2020 in which he stressed the importance of being a citizen of Duke rather than just a student. He rightly noted that in addition to providing privileges and rights, citizenship carries the weight of responsibility to a community. Today, we explore three responsibilities of Duke citizens: contributing to the intellectual environment, ensuring that the campus’s conscientious diversity persists (and is strengthened) and promoting and honoring the community standard.

Reforming the presidency

(07/25/16 11:39am)

Amidst the election of a new president of the United States, Duke too will see the selection of a new leader. President Richard Brodhead, after thirteen years of service, announced that he would step down from his position at the end of the 2017 Spring semester. As the search committee tasked with choosing his replacement vets candidates, the president’s unique position in the administration ought to be examined and reconsidered.

Rules of engagement

(07/03/16 8:23pm)

Those who tuned in for one or more of the 12 debates during the primary season might have felt something similar to what John Kasich voiced during the February South Carolina CBS News debate. Surrounded by a flurry of ad hominem attacks and non sequiturs haphazardly hurled by his fellow debaters, he lamented, “This is just crazy. This is just nuts. Jeez, oh man.” A cynic might claim that Governor Kasich was just trying to earn some easy contrast points against his opponents. A more charitable person, however, might argue that he was making a statement about the declining health of debate in both the Republican primaries and the country at large.

Reflect and Engage

(05/02/16 2:42pm)

Seniors prepare to bid farewell to Duke, capturing snapshots of an ever-growing university for which the only constant is continuous change. Over the past year, by shedding its antiquated edifices, both literal and not, Duke has created and expanded spaces for interfaith reflection, global engagement and intercultural discussions. The most meaningful evolutions, however, have occurred to the foundation of the university itself, driven directly by students, faculty and staff. In a year marked by protests, when even curriculum proposals highlighted a need to explore the “Duke Experience,” we turn to reflect on the essential lessons of a Duke education and its impact on the shaping of campus outside the classroom.

​Calling for action from task forces

(04/26/16 4:39am)

The impending culmination of the academic year has sparked no response from Duke’s many task forces, which have failed to produce any tangible results during this year. Created by the administration to combat persistent campus issues and acute incidents of strife, these committees and task forces were charged with the issuance of revealing reports and powerful recommendations. However, just as student activists this year have highlighted, the status quo reveals a disappointing truth about these task forces. They become opaque soon after their creation, going dormant in the eyes of students. Because the task forces are granted the authority to contribute to suggest fundamental changes to the University, they must be held to the utmost level of accountability for which public documentation of goals, times and accomplishments is imperative.

Pass but alter the DSG Board of Trustees amendment

(04/25/16 5:08am)

Tomorrow, the Duke Student Government Senate will vote on a bylaw amendment that seeks to open positions on standing committees of the Board of Trustees to the whole undergraduate student population. In the status quo, DSG vice presidents are automatically assigned to these standing committees, often in ways that do not line up with their roles in student government. The proposed amendment would continue to appoint the president and vice president of facilities, the environment and the arts to committees but open nine positions to all undergraduates via an application and interview process. Although we encourage the Senate to pass the proposal, we believe several amendments must absolutely be made.

A fresh meal plan for first-years

(04/22/16 5:50am)

As the year winds down, food points dwindle and study obligations increase, the pressure for freshmen to both use swipes at the Marketplace and maximize study time spent on West Campus can easily become overwhelming, temporally and financially. The first-year meal plan creates anxiety in planning when and where to eat and poses challenges for students on financial aid. Unanimous opinion supports adoption of a more conscientious and convenient meal plan for first-year students, some of whom are forced to use flex points for those final days at the end of semesters.

​Demanding DSG accountability

(04/21/16 5:25am)

Last week, 32 percent of undergraduates voted in the Duke Student Government elections for committee senators and vice presidents. While campaigns and DSG emails in the lead-up to the election focused on the list of candidates present on the ballot, they failed to emphasize the referenda students would also be asked to weigh in on, one of which called for a re-evaluation of the funding mechanism for the Chanticleer, the student yearbook. Although the referendum was purely informational, its lack of clarity and previous publicity highlighted clear problems with the DSG information propagation and voting system.

​Welcoming alumni back to the Duke community

(04/20/16 6:24am)

Thousands of alumni descended on campus last Friday, reveling in cherished memories, old friendships and immortalized exploits over the course of Alumni Weekend. While alumni weekend seems to attract large crowds, it is concerning that personal interactions between alumni and the campus only visibly manifest this one time each year. Many students feel that post-graduation, all Duke wants from its alumni is their money. Even just before graduation, undergraduates are asked for a senior gift as a foot in the door. To some extent, the loosening of the relationship between alumni and campus is natural, as old ties fade and college relationships are replaced by professional ones. However, it is important to recognize and take advantage of the fact that our alumni are a tremendous resource, not just for the University or in a pecuniary sense, but as a multidimensional resource for students.

​Affirming athletic excellence

(04/19/16 6:05am)

Duke's place as an athletic powerhouse is inextricably tied to its reputation as a university. As a relatively young university, Duke’s swift ascent to the highest echelons of elite colleges has oft been attributed to its assertive dominance on the literal playing field (or court) during the early 1990s, which translated into an exponential growth in the number of applications for undergraduate admission. Today, Duke has been established as an undeniably excellent center of academics with consistent increases in applications regardless of success or scandal in athletic pursuits. Considering that, today we will examine the nature of sports at Duke and the position of the athletes who compete in them. We will especially seek to answer questions of what sports add and detract to Duke and whether student athletes benefit from or are benefited from by the university.

​Inspecting internships

(04/18/16 5:47am)

The return of warmer weather and roaming packs of high school tour groups on campus can only mean one thing: summer break is nearing, and with it, internship season. Over 90 percent of employers have expressed a belief that students ought to complete at least one internship before graduation. That expectation has brought an immense pressure upon students to participate in internships, especially in the context of a still uncertain job market. As many students discover, however, a large number of internships, despite demanding long hours, offer no compensation, making it difficult to justify taking them over a job or higher paying opportunity.

​Reform LDOC

(04/15/16 4:43am)

As the second to last full week of classes draws to a close, students are counting down the days remaining until another Last Day of Classes. For the twenty years since its 1997 inception, LDOC’s bacchanal has consumed main quad with massive crowds, a morning to evening programming schedule and unofficial daylong drunkenness. But as fun as it is to let loose before finals, our designated day of campus-wide music and celebration is in serious need of reform.

​To ReEngage or DisEngage?

(04/14/16 6:30am)

In less than a month, students complete the academic year and depart for the sun, sand and balmy breezes of internship season. For over 400 students, however, the closing of the academic calendar brings DukeEngage Academy, the orientation program for those participating in DukeEngage this summer. The perennial academy attempts to inoculate students against the pitfalls of disingenuous volunteering. However, the persistence of problems with the programs merits our reevaluation of the effectiveness of DukeEngage.

Prioritizing the needs of women

(04/13/16 5:17am)

After over two decades spent in its central location adjacent to the West bus stop, the Women’s Center is slated to be relocated to the Crowell Building on East Campus next year. Founded 27 years ago, the Women’s Center is tasked with providing a safe, comfortable and educational space for students of all genders on campus. Throughout its history, the center has sought to empower women and promote gender equality through various programs and initiatives. Given the importance of the center’s mission to “promote a campus culture that ensures the full participation and agency of women students” and its status as a high-priority, oft-used resource, we question the administration’s decision to relegate it to a remote and less accessible venue.

Vote Kadakia, Bullock, Lettie Tuesday

(04/11/16 5:19am)

A common theme has begun to emerge in our reactions to DSG: concern that elected officials have failed to convince the average Duke student that DSG is an organization working for their interests rather than for self-satisfaction. DSG works best when it serves as a conduit, relaying the ideas of the student body to the administration, rather than acting unilaterally. Likewise, DSG vice presidents are most effective when they listen to and inspire the senators that work in their committees rather than commanding them. In addition to heeding senators, though, a strong VP must ensure that external voices are recognized and that the ideas of those voices are implemented. To this end, we encourage voters to consider which candidates will encourage DSG to improve the interface between students, student government and administration so as to help DSG focus on issues the student body finds salient. Below are our VP endorsements.

​Looking up from our laptops

(04/08/16 5:19am)

As accepted students from the Class of 2020 pour into Durham this month to visit campus, they look to get a taste of campus life with our bus rides, dining halls and residential dorms. Though Blue Devil Days provide prospective students with an enjoyable experience, they only provide glimpses of Duke’s academic ecosystem, especially inside classrooms. While the quality of Duke’s intellectual experience is undeniable, we believe laptops are depriving us everyday of a full educational experience. While beneficial in some settings and for some purposes, more often than not they distract us to the point where we only see portions of our classrooms in the peripheries of our laptop screens.