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Yesterday, we scrutinized the procedural failures of administration’s investigations of EVP Tallman Trask’s 2014 hit-and-run incident, as well as what allowed Parking and Transportation Services' hostile and discriminatory work environment to persist. Today, our title hearkens back to what Provost Sally Kornbluth stressed in the wake of April’s noose incident: if we remain as bystanders to racial macro- and micro-aggressions, “we’re all complicit.”
On Monday, the Duke community learned the shocking story of an alleged criminal incident involving Executive Vice President Tallman Trask. Before a football game in 2014, Trask hit a game day parking attendant with his car and allegedly called out a racial slur as he abruptly left the scene. Shelvia Underwood, the attendant, sought medical care for a muscle contusion and possible elbow fracture shortly afterwards. Trask “categorically denied” hitting Underwood with his car until The Chronicle presented him with a copy of the apology note he had written to her for the incident.
As Duke students vote today and tomorrow for the next leaders of DSG, voters across the nation are participating in this year’s Super Tuesday primary races. In total, 25 percent of republican primary delegates and 21 percent of democratic primary delegates will be allocated during these contests. Yet, even with the large number of delegates to be decided today, if results continue to split vote and delegate counts as they have in most past races, presidential nominations will continue to be contested following Super Tuesday results.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, students will elect the next president and executive vice president of Duke Student Government, along with the next chairperson of the Student Organization Funding Committee. Per what we have written on several past occasions, it is our hope that the results of this election will reflect a student body that wants DSG to work through student voices, prioritize projects instead of launching in a million different directions and make students feel like they are being heard on campus.
In two short weeks, major declarations will be due for those in their fourth semesters. For some in the sophomore class, this means a deadline looms, ominous and daunting. For these students, the tyranny of choice wields its power with the cruel paralysis of decision-making. For others, the deadline is little more than a bureaucratic annoyance—another form to fill out and a trivial paragraph to write to explain a decision that seems almost pre-determined. Today we write to the former group of students. To those still on the fence, caught between different visions and dreams for the rest of their development at Duke, we have but two words: be bold.
At the beginning of this semester, the Imagining the Duke Curriculum Committee proposed a conceptual framework for reworking Duke’s undergraduate curriculum. Among the questions the committee considers going forward is how they can design a “robust pass/fail policy to further promote academic experimentation.” Improvements presented as part of the new curriculum have the potential to be part of Duke’s counterbalance against the pre-professionalism we discussed yesterday.
On the to-do list carried around by each Duke student, the pursuit of a summer internship accompanies a litany of classwork and extracurricular engagements to which students are obligated. In the wake of financial recruiting and on the tail end of consulting applications, many of Duke’s juniors already boast coveted positions in prestigious firms. Yet, the worries of summer employment plague more than upperclassmen: first-years and sophomores also feel the anxiety of improving their resumes with shiny internships. Today we ask to what extent pre-professionalism negatively competes with our intellectual and professional growth at our liberal arts institution.
In yesterday’s editorial, we offered advice for activists who protested a Greek mixer last Friday and for the students looking onwards and listening. Unfortunately, as the post-protest discussion over social media has demonstrated, the aggressive nature of the demonstration stole attention away from the issue being protested—the state of prisoners’ rights and treatment, particularly in Durham.
Throughout this year, we have lamented the growing violence of disagreement on campus and the seeming endlessness of the increase in volume required to be heard in “debates” that have become more like shouting matches on both local and national stages. These concerns manifested yet again on Friday when the “Kappa Kops” party, an annual incarceration-themed party hosted by two Greek organizations, was protested by a group of students, some of whom were asking for the abolition of both prisons and Greek life.
Just five weeks into the spring semester students have begun to feel the mounting pressures of midterms, applications for summer experiences and the general demands of Duke’s busy campus. A great deal gets lost to the balancing act of student life and to the high expectation nature of our stresses. Unfortunately, the biggest hit from our lifestyles is received by student health—mental and otherwise. Yet given these varied stressors and the longstanding issues surrounding mental wellbeing on campus, the use of short-term illness notification forms for mental health remains ambiguous. As Duke comes off of last week’s mental health awareness week, the policy on STINFs deserves revisiting.
Forecast for the next two weeks? Flyers, profile pictures and platforms galore. In this round of Duke Student Government elections, Annie Adair, Tara Bansal and John Guarco have entered their names as our three presidential hopefuls. Two others are vying for Executive Vice President and three for chair of the Student Organization Finance Committee. Today we turn not to the candidates and their campaigns but to an inspection of DSG in the status quo and our vision for the organization.
The latest round of Duke’s very own Me Too Monologues wraps up on campus this week with Thursday’s monologues for contingent faculty. Me Too has become tremendously popular on campus, overcoming self-selection problems that previously concerned us. With hundreds of attendees, its stories now reach and hopefully resonate with a diverse cross-section of our student body. We worry however that, through no fault of its own, Me Too can represent a strong but short-lived inoculation in discourse surrounding identity, struggle and vulnerability. Though anonymity best allows authors to not hold back and to fully challenge viewers to think about how life at Duke can be hard, there surely needs to be push for more ways to bring these issues into daily conversation.
Last week, we wrote about the importance of writing purposefully—putting quality over quantity and producing thoughtful, well-planned pieces instead of empty commentaries. Today we turn to the quality and depth we ought to require of our reading. Old-fashioned as it sounds, people do not read in the same way they used to. We go through Buzzfeed listicles like potato chips and skim Facebook’s trending stories and Twitter’s 140-character blasts for news. While we crave intelligence and informed opinions, our attention spans are shorter and our time more thinly stretched.
United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who had served on the bench of the nation’s highest court for the past 30 years, passed away this weekend. Justice Scalia was famous for his controversial but airtight dissenting opinions that helped focus Supreme Court debates on interpretation of the original meaning of the constitution. A solidly conservative justice, Scalia was renowned for the high quality of his majority opinions and the total acumen of his dissents. He was a husband and father of nine children who rose from a childhood raised by immigrant parents to hold the highest American office of his chosen profession.
With Grace’s Café set to close at the end of the semester due to expensive kitchen renovation costs, Duke Dining and the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee again enter student conversations. We are asked to say farewell to a beloved Duke eatery, further limiting on-campus options for students attempting to manage culinary wants and healthy habits. Though this summer’s full opening of the West Union promises relief for West Campus, we take this moment to evaluate dining at Duke and a typical student’s eating experience.
Last month the public because aware of a student’s Title IX complaint filed against Duke. The opened federal investigation will “review handling of sexual misconduct and harassment complaints involving students, faculty and staff.” While reports of the opened investigation relate three high profile cases of sexual assault at Duke in the past year, there is no way to surmise what case, known or unknown, generated the complaint.
It’s not often that an English major, M.D./Ph.D. student, East Campus resident assistant and Bollywood dance team captain gather to debate vociferously. But in Flowers 201, these students hold great debates around our humble conference table. Twice a week, their voices and others from across campus come together to gracefully mold, shape and weave together answers to the hard questions we confront. Together, they take on issues ranging from the intricacies of social life to the financial responsibility of our University. We are the Editorial Board, The Chronicle’s independent voice that stands apart. Today, we invite Duke’s best and brightest to join the fray.
Though Duke has been affected across campus by seemingly endless construction, no project has been planned, approved and executed as quickly or painlessly as the interfaith prayer room in Keohane 4B, which had its grand opening last week. Dubbed The Mosaic and nestled in a former computer lab, the room features prayer mats and different religious texts, blank walls facing east toward Jerusalem and northeast toward Mecca and space to store shoes while in the room. The Mosaic is a great effort by Housing, Dining and Resident Life, answering student demand for quiet and reflective spaces on campus.
Undergraduates write all the time. We write to fulfill assignments in our classes, to communicate our research, to contribute to The Chronicle and other campus publications and to facilitate our extracurricular organizations through by-laws and communiques. Duke has a steady and strong stream of written production on campus. With the establishment of The Tab and The Rival this year, we see reflected more than ever in our campus the passion of students to report and express themselves through publication.
For the past few weeks, many Duke students have expressed concerns over a lack of parking spaces, for commuters and non-commuters alike, particularly in the Blue Zone. Duke Parking and Transportation services has responded inadequately to the increased demand for parking space and has failed to communicate effectively with students regarding game-day parking and alternative options. Though important to note that these problems are not unique to Duke and are generally less severe than at state universities where the cost of parking is even higher, the confluence of these and campus transportation problems we noted last week points to larger institutional failures that warrant redress.