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LDOC can do better

(04/03/13 10:35am)

Some students are uneasy about Last Day of Classes headliner Travis Porter’s sexist and demeaning lyrics. The rap group will perform despite the protests, but its morally questionable lyrics remain cause for concern. Misogyny and violence pervade popular rap lyrics, but does their ubiquity justify their inclusion in the LDOC lineup? Or rather, does the normalization of these messages exemplify what is so concerning about Travis Porter’s invitation?

How to fix Writing 101

(04/02/13 6:49am)

First initiated as part of Curriculum 2000, the only mandatory course for all Duke undergraduates—Writing 101—is a good idea that has become a flawed tool. This is a pity because there is a strong need for a mandatory first-year writing course that prepares all students for college-level writing. Today, we offer some advice to the program’s administrators on how to improve the Writing 101 experience. A better Writing 101 course would focus less on highly specific topics and more on the core set of writing skills required for college-level work.

Mutual benefits

(03/29/13 7:46am)

A recent partnership between Duke and the University of Virginia seeks to combine the two institutions’ resources to promote the teaching of Creole and Tibetan languages. This effort to expand opportunities for students to study these “low-visibility languages” will tangibly benefit both the students enrolled in these courses and the academic communities at both schools. The partnership represents a creative and intelligent use of institutional resources—potentially serving as a model for balancing the university’s financial constraints with its pedagogical aspirations in a time of increased budget-consciousness.

Support equality

(03/28/13 7:54am)

The debate surrounding same-sex marriage gained a lot of attention this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday the Supreme Court heard arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor—two different cases involving same-sex couples. Although official rulings on the cases will not be out for some time, tensions between those in support of same-sex marriage and those against it have reached a boiling point.

Cover gender reassignment

(03/27/13 10:07am)

The Duke community should embrace Duke Student Government’s March 20 resolution to add sex reassignment surgery to the list of procedures covered by student and employee health insurance. Sexual reassignment surgery is far from just a cosmetic procedure—students whose gender identities mismatch the sex they were assigned at birth must battle with this identity issue, which can deeply disrupt the agency of transgender individuals.

Boys versus girls

(03/22/13 7:34am)

The recent release of the Greek Culture Initiative’s Report on Gender and Greek Experience has brought the topic of Duke’s campus climate, particularly sexual assault, back into the spotlight. Having covered the Greek Culture Initiative, we would like to turn to yet another critical study, the Report on Gender and the Undergraduate Experience, which confronts vital cultural issues, particularly academic culture and how men and women experience it differently.

Unacceptable contact

(03/21/13 10:05am)

Duke has a sexual assault problem. The Greek Culture Initiative report confirmed an ugly reality of the Duke social scene: Unwanted sexual contact continues to occur at an unacceptable rate. The key word here is “unwanted,” which denotes a clear communication gap that has allowed for behavior that is at best disrespectful and at worst traumatizing.

A new take on pre-med

(03/19/13 8:43am)

An innovative new way of selecting students for medicine seeks to alleviate the intensity of pre-health requirements—allowing pre-med students to explore other areas in college—without sacrificing the academic ability of its applicants to perform as doctors. Furthermore, it aspires to produce personable, worldly doctors who can handle the changing requirements of the modern-day medical profession.

Increase credit for labs

(03/18/13 9:22am)

Duke must respond to discrepancies in course credit assignment for time-intensive lab classes, often in natural sciences, that meet for four or more hours per week compared to a lecture-only course. Duke should assign 0.5 or 0.25 credits to lab sections to recognize the additional time these courses take up. When the lab is focused on technical skills or experiment design—not concepts closely integrated with lecture material—the standalone lab course, graded independently of the full-credit course, is also a good idea. This practice, already implemented for several chemistry lab courses, should be extended to other courses as necessary.

Big bad Bull City?

(03/07/13 12:52pm)

An article headlined “Durham crime crosses over into Chapel Hill” was published Tuesday in The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to being journalistically unsound, the article itself reveals the problematic biases embedded within the narrative of these two cities and their relationship, which arise out of the framing of the writer’s reporting.

The lacrosse legacy

(03/05/13 1:16pm)

One of many cases filed by members of the 2005-2006 men’s lacrosse team against the University and additional defendants was settled last week. As we reflect on this incident in which exotic dancer Crystal Mangum falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape at a 2006 team party, its place in the broader history of Duke becomes clearer. We can begin to see how it has molded and continues to mold our campus culture to this day. For many people both within and outside of the Duke community, this case continues to define Duke’s identity. Today, we discuss an approach to historicizing the lacrosse scandal in terms of how it has affected and continues to affect administrators, students and media coverage of the University.

Get your fix

(03/04/13 11:21am)

As Duke expands into China and attempts to navigate the changing landscape of higher education, it continues to confront huge institutional problems that consume a large portion of the administration’s time and energy. We should keep in mind, however, that while these big issues require substantial and sustained attention from the University, students face a completely different set of concerns as they go about their daily lives. Many of these concerns—from lighting on campus to an ineffective lost and found system—are small and seemingly trivial, but together they constitute the everyday experience of students and thus deserve attention.

Put arts in the liberal arts

(03/01/13 10:38am)

If buildings help build community, then it comes as no surprise on a campus with massive and highly visible structures dedicated to the sciences and engineering that the arts at Duke are seemingly invisible. As a top-notch university that prides itself on the richness of its academic life and the diverse interests of its student body, it is unbecoming to have had such a blaring dearth of artistic space. Student dance groups had to schedule their practices between Zumba and yoga while only art majors and students enrolled in art classes had access to work studios. Such deficits stifled the creative energy of students and made the arts an elusive endeavor. Fortunately, with the opening of the Arts Annex last September, this paucity was partially addressed as the arts community now has a space to call home.

Use caution with corporate dollars

(02/28/13 10:50am)

In this era of looming sequestration, budget stalemates and increased scrutiny of all federal funding, universities across the country are constantly being pressed to obtain the money necessary to fund critical research. Duke is better positioned to maintain and expand its research operations, even in an era of decreased National Institute of Health resources. Duke receives a significant portion of its research dollars from corporate sources and has led the nation in total corporate research funding received for the past 10 years.