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Clarify the gender-neutral policy

(10/31/12 7:55am)

Responding to a proposal forwarded by Duke Students for Gender-Neutrality, Duke’s administration committed last year to accommodating gender-neutral housing on campus for the 2013-2014 academic year. Duke Student Government has recently crafted an updated proposal that fleshes out the details for implementing gender-neutral housing and calls for the administration to make as much of Duke’s campus able to accommodate gender-neutral housing as possible. We support DSG’s proposal and agree with its underlying contention that expanding gender-neutral housing remains incredibly important in promoting equity on campus.

Affirming diversity

(10/30/12 9:39am)

According to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag, race still matters—and should matter—in the college admissions process. But with proceedings for Fisher v. University of Texas underway this month, the Supreme Court’s ruling may forbid public universities from taking this stance. While the ramifications of this decision for Duke and other selective private universities remain uncertain, it is vital that we, as stakeholders in the University, reflect carefully on what these policies do for our school.

Justify legacy admits

(10/29/12 8:38am)

Last year, we wrote an editorial in which we criticized the University’s legacy admission policy for being unfair, as legacy status has no bearing on an applicant’s merit. Moreover, taking legacy status into account does not attempt to correct social inequities, nor does it promote diversity. After discussing the issue with Christoph Guttentag, director of undergraduate admissions, we still maintain that the University’s legacy policy is unfair. But, rather than reject the policy outright, we first want to hear the University’s justifications for the policy, if it has any. Currently, Duke does not present a well-founded defense for the legacy admissions policy, but it must as long as the University is excluding certain applicants based on an unfair criterion. As far as we can tell, administrators are content to blindly accept the status quo. We want to start a conversation about why.

Business as usual

(10/26/12 8:54am)

The practice of entrepreneurship and the practice of innovation have become entangled in American culture and at Duke. Entrepreneurs earn wide admiration in the public sphere for their ability to reinvent and revitalize, but entrepreneurial activity has incorrectly come to define our idea of what it means to innovate.

The Big Four

(10/24/12 8:45am)

Duke students talk about it informally all the time, but at the Career Center it has a special name. William Wright-Swadel, Fannie Mitchell executive director of career services, and his staff call it “The Big Four”—lawyer, doctor, consultant and banker—the small set of careers that Duke students seem to deem acceptable.

More openings in the arts

(10/23/12 8:25am)

Convincing Duke students to work in arts-related fields after graduation can be a hard sell. Unlike consulting or finance companies, arts organizations often do not have the money or manpower to recruit. Furthermore, even the students who get hired in the arts are unlikely to get a big paycheck. There’s an even bigger disincentive in the long-run: Successful arts careers—think a big-time movie producer or acting agent—are characterized by unexpected and even risky turns. Duke students tend to love predetermined tracks, and there are few of those in the arts.

The comeback kids of Duke football

(10/22/12 6:56am)

A few short years ago, the idea of a packed student section at Wallace Wade Stadium cheering on a Blue Devils team competing for bowl eligibility would likely have elicited laughter. But now, for the first time in 18 years, the football team has the last laugh. Saturday’s hard-fought victory serves as an inspirational reminder of values that have characterized Duke athletics for generations. Specifically, we are struck by the efforts of the team itself, a community that was willing to give it a chance and the continued contribution of athletics to our campus culture.

Make ACES informative

(10/19/12 4:35am)

Registering for classes might not be the most exciting aspect of the Duke experience, but it is certainly the most ubiquitous. Every student utilizes the same ACES site to pre-select and then register for classes every semester. While the process generally functions smoothly, a few small tweaks to the way courses are listed and the ACES interface would benefit both professors and students.

Sustaining advocacy

(10/18/12 7:58am)

Duke Student Government has recently concluded two successful advocacy campaigns, convincing the administration to repeal the statute of limitations for sexual misconduct and expand the size of the future LGBT center. DSG, though sometimes derided for its ineffectiveness, has proven that it is capable of identifying issues that matter to students and crafting efficacious campaigns to pursue them.

Keep admissions out of Facebook

(10/17/12 7:40am)

We have all heard some version of the story: a college admissions officer casually looks up a promising applicant on Facebook, sees a questionable photo or status that cannot be unseen, and suddenly the applicant’s fate is in jeopardy. According to a recent survey, 35 percent of college admissions officers that searched for applicants on Facebook or Google—about 25 percent of all surveyed—found material that hurt an application. Duke officers are not prohibited from searching applicants on the Internet, but they do so rarely and do not put much stock in the information they find.

Vote like you mean it

(10/11/12 7:34am)

Nov. 6 is looming. The main focus, of course, is on the race between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney. But there are other public offices up for contention that will influence American economic, social and foreign policy in the upcoming years. The deadline for registering to vote is tomorrow, and we urge you to do so as soon as possible.

The new Duke

(10/10/12 7:09am)

Change is coming to Duke. After meeting with President Richard Brodhead, we are more convinced than ever that the nature of undergraduate life at our institution—from the students to the curricular design—is in the process of a fundamental shift. Often under the banner of interdisciplinarity, the administration is changing the University’s priorities and hallmarks—perhaps at the expense of older ones. We anticipate these changes permeating admissions, campus culture and academics offerings.

Fundraising by the bootstraps

(10/08/12 7:37am)

Universities are like Renaissance masterpieces—they both cost a lot of money, and each one has its own unique personality. But unlike Renaissance masterpieces, which exist in timeless stasis, universities can autonomously raise money and change their personalities. Duke’s latest capital campaign, Duke Forward, is about personality. It is as much about asking how to spend our money as it is about raking money in, and to answer that question we must immediately ask another: What should Duke be, now and in the future?

Science, sexism and solutions

(10/05/12 6:16am)

According to a study released in September by researchers at Yale University, both male and female science professors consider female undergraduates less capable than their male counterparts, even when students of both sexes exhibit the exact same accomplishments and skills. The study asked biology, chemistry and physics professors from six large, unnamed research universities—half public, half private—to evaluate undergraduate applications for a laboratory manager position. When identical applications were submitted, except for a gendered name change, professors were less likely to offer a job and career mentoring to “Jennifer,” the hypothetical female applicant. If they indeed offered her a job, it was at a significantly lower salary, almost $4,000 less on average. The discrimination persisted even when the professor’s age, sex, field or tenure status was controlled. Although these findings were likely the result of unconscious bias rather than deliberate sexism, this study is alarming and has serious implications for college women studying science.

Dispelling myths about CAPS

(10/04/12 5:27am)

Wednesday, we explored the culture of invulnerability that often causes Duke students to become distressed and lonely. On one hand, relief can be found in starting a conversation about mental health just among students. On the other hand, Counseling and Psychological Services can offer helpful resources as well. Today we dispel several negative myths about CAPS that prevent students from using their services. In an ideal universe, the lines between CAPS and student life would be blurred, inspiring formal and informal resources to work in tandem to improve students’ psychological well-being.

Eliminate the statute of limitations

(10/02/12 6:38am)

Duke’s statute of limitations for sexual misconduct violations, reduced last January from two years to one, continues to vex many on campus. After investigating the policy change, a task force assembled by Duke Student Government has drafted a well-reasoned proposal to eliminate the statute of limitations entirely, citing conduct policies of other universities and the unique trauma associated with reporting sexual assault.