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In recent years, unthinkable amenities like tanning beds, poolside cabanas and spherical “nap pods” have taken the place of dismal dormitories and labs in universities across the country. The phenomenon of “country club” colleges refers to mostly middling universities that have diverted funds from academics towards opulent facilities in an attempt to lure students. While Duke may not fall into this breed of resort colleges, the University still participates in an amenities arms race among elite universities. Is Duke merely fighting a necessary battle in the competition for applicants, or do our investments send a certain signal—perhaps wrongly—about our educational priorities?
“Bloodied and haggard, he slumped onto the cell’s charcoal floor, a cigarette dangling from lips swollen and oozing something awful. His shirt— the candy-striped stamp of a man hunted and harried—rebelled against the bleakness surrounding him. It was the only remaining evidence of his life on the lam.” (This is our attempt to answer “Where’s Waldo, Really?” one of the University of Chicago’s 2012 application questions.)
If you take a close look at the Bid Day pictures of Panhellenic sororities or composites of Interfraternity Council fraternities, you will notice an unmistakable trend: the predominance of white people looking back at you. Put another way, if an alien landed at Duke, not knowing anything about campus greek organizations, it might guess that the primary determinant of Panhel or IFC membership—versus membership in the National Pan-Hellenic Council or the Inter-Greek Council—was white skin.
On Wednesday night, tap dancer extraordinaire Savion Glover performed to a packed audience at Page Auditorium. Glover, whose creative fusion of traditional tap and African dance is world renowned, is only one artist in a terrific lineup from this season of Duke Performances. Previous performers from this season include Reggie Watts, Bela Fleck and Meredith Monk. Performers such as Mike Daisey, the China National Symphony Orchestra and Diavolo Dance Theater are slated to perform in the upcoming months.
Are Asian students disadvantaged in the college admissions process? A recent surge of articles in The New York Times and other publications has raised the question of the existence of “Asian quotas” at top universities.
Cameron Crazies have been lauded as one of the most creative and energetic student sections in the history of college basketball. In early 2012, when national media outlets picked up declining student attendance, Duke student interest in basketball became a national headline. However, if the surge of tents in Krzyzewskiville this season serves as any indication, these trends in basketball attendance may not be as significant as once thought.
For many, Panhellenic “Bid Day” is an emotional event. The highly visible nature of the recruitment process—culminating with an enthusiastic celebration on West Campus with members wearing identical T-shirts and chanting sorority cheers—underscores the exclusivity of each group, and differentiates its members from those who have not joined. Taken together with the distribution of bids for Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inter-Greek Council and selective living groups, this week can seem overwhelmingly important in one’s Duke career, as individual freshmen embark on their own divergent journeys and the collective Class of 2016 fractures into smaller and smaller subgroups.
There are points in one’s Duke career when it is easy to feel lost, and this time of year is definitely one of them. Freshmen barely have just learned what it means to be a college student, and many are now in the throes of rush. Sophomores are choosing their majors. Many juniors have just come back from abroad. Seniors are trying to decide what to do with their lives.
Like most things high school students agonize over—Facebook friends, woefully uncool parents—the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses students take probably matters much less than they think.
Think Before You Talk, a new, freshmen-led campaign to reduce the use of derogatory words like “gay” and “retarded” in everyday conversation, is a praiseworthy attempt to tackle an important issue. We particularly applaud the initiative for its focus on language, which we agree can needlessly foster hostile attitudes that have no place on our campus. We urge the campaign to consider tweaking the popular one-size-fits-all approaches to addressing Duke cultural issues and to continue thinking creatively.
Monday, we outlined the general structure of what the forthcoming Duke IDEAS program will look like. With details of the program yet to be hammered out, we would like to raise a few important concerns during the program’s initiation and development phases.
Duke IDEAS is a natural culmination of recent conversations about the University’s curriculum, namely a desire for integrative learning—a remedy for the disjointed education students receive inside and outside the classroom—and a hope for interdisciplinarity to be pursued with care. This new interdisciplinary program, which is an acronym for Interdisciplinary Education and Society, hopes to bring together faculty and students from all 10 schools of the University, offering undergraduate and graduate certificates. As of Fall 2013, students can choose to study one of five broad themes: Brain and Society; Education and Human Development; Energy; Global Health; and Information, Society and Culture. These themes were created based on the society’s most pressing contemporary problems and, given Duke’s unique resources, the problems we are best equipped to tackle.
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn. tragedy, heavy attention has been placed on the debate surrounding stricter gun control regulations. Public and private universities have entered the conversation as well, calling for tougher laws to protect students, faculty and staff. Last week, President Richard Brodhead joined his colleagues from nine U.S. universities in calling on the Obama administration and Congress to address gun violence.
The humiliation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continues. Last month, a comprehensive investigation at UNC revealed that many athletes had been receiving credit for no-show classes and unauthorized grade changes within the African and Afro-American studies department since 1997, more than fifteen years ago. The deeply entrenched fraud—which extended to 216 courses, some composed of more than 40 percent athletes—has been a devastating embarrassment to the university.
Duke students survived the return of Quetzalcoatl over the winter break but, if last semester is any indication, the coming year will confront the University with challenges that are just as earth-shaking, at least in a less literal sense.
The expansion of Program II has been discussed as a possible avenue to achieve the interdisciplinary goals that Dean of Arts and Sciences Laurie Patton has outlined for Trinity College. Program II fills an important but small niche at the University. But it should not be expanded for the sheer purpose of furthering interdisciplinarity, which can be fostered in more rigorous ways.
The last day of classes means little in the way of relief for most Duke students before a finals week consisting of stress, an unhealthy amount of caffeine and a K-Ville dry run in Perkins. Yet some students will have early freedom this evening thanks to a lack of finals.
Talking about sex makes for better and healthier sex. This is especially true when attempting to obtain consent, which is often defined as the informed willingness to engage in sexual activity. Thanks to many people—groups like Common Ground, Prevent Action Challenge Teach and the Women’s Center, as well as individual student activists—dialogue about consent on campus has increased in recent years. Yet confusion persists. What is consent exactly? How does one obtain it, especially when alcohol is involved? How can we educate the general student body on the best practices of consensual sex?
Have you ever found yourself in a class that spends weeks recapping material that you learned last semester? Have you ever been frustrated in an upper-level elective where some students have never heard of basic concepts from the department’s introductory course?
In Monday’s editorial, we argued that there are three general stages in any student’s undergraduate education: pre-major exploration, training in the core language and methodology of a chosen discipline and, finally, the integration of that specialized knowledge with one’s broader interests and its application to real-world problems. While we agreed that integrated learning is a worthy goal, integration must be preceded by specialization if it is to be productive.