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'Help me, I'm poor!': The limits of being 'Duke poor'

(02/06/19 5:00am)

Just a few weeks ago, world leaders, activists and wealthy entrepreneurs gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Against the backdrop of an extravagant ski resort nestled in the mountains of arguably the wealthiest country on earth, the forum opened with the goal of “foster[ing] systems of leadership and global stewardship... to build the future in a constructive, collaborative way.”

Stand down Northam

(02/04/19 2:28pm)

Ralph Northam, the current Democratic governor of Virginia, is currently facing demands for his resignation in response to a racist photograph from his medical school years that was included on his yearbook page. In his page from the Eastern Virginia Medical School’s 1984 yearbook, reporters have identified a photograph that depicts a young man in blackface and another dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam immediately issued an apology, admitting that he was one of the individuals in the yearbook before recanting his statement. Despite his statement on Friday, Northam now denies that either of the individuals in the yearbook is him, but does admit that he apparently did once darken his face for a Michael Jackson impersonation contest in 1984. The incident has resulted in nationwide calls for his resignation from the likes of fellow Democrats such as Joe Biden and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which Northam has responded to swiftly by saying that he would continue to serve the state of Virginia despite his past actions. 

March for what?

(02/01/19 5:00am)

This past Saturday, while Duke students were cheering on the Duke men’s basketball team as they took on Georgia Tech and others were busy grinding away in Perkins, some Blue Devils chose to attend the Women’s March on Raleigh. This demonstration was just one of hundreds that have been organized across the country since the national Women’s March in 2017. This first gathering took place in Washington, D.C., the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. While a number of issues were represented by countless coalitions and individuals, the focal point of the rally was largely Trump himself, who had been recorded speaking crudely about women and has faced accusations of sexual misconduct. As the march has gained traction nationwide, its offshoots have expanded messaging into the civil rights of women, Black Americans and immigrants, and have highlighted broader women-centric issues like restrictions on abortion rights and gendered wage disparities. 

The price of three letters

(01/30/19 5:00am)

Five days ago, Duke University took action against three fraternities on campus following reports of hazing. Duke’s chapters of Pi Kappa Phi and Delta Tau Delta have been suspended entirely, while Sigma Phi Epsilon has had new member activities suspended as the university investigates the allegations. These incidents highlight a nationally recognized issue with Greek life, but they also bring to light the unaddressed problems of Duke’s living communities, especially concerning the heavily exclusive nature of these communities.

Hear no Mandarin, speak no Mandarin

(01/28/19 5:00am)

Institutional racism at Duke has once again made national headlines this weekend, courtesy of a strongly-worded email sent by an administrator to her graduate students. In a mass email sent to all first-year and second-year students enrolled in the Master of Biostatistics program, the director of graduate studies, Megan Neely, warned her students against conversing in Mandarin while on campus. In an earlier email from Neely, she expressed similar sentiments, castigating Chinese international students for speaking in Mandarin while carrying on private conversations. It seems that for Neely and certain members of the biostatistics department, the sound of Mandarin being spoken at an international research university was too much for their monolingual white ears to handle. The consequences they laid out for students who dared to violate their linguistic mandate were, unsurprisingly, draconian: refrain from speaking Mandarin in front of professors, or risk losing work and research opportunities. [Editor's note: Mandarin is the most likely language to have been spoken by the students; Neely's email only said they students were speaking "Chinese" and did not specify.]

Centering Nathan Phillips

(01/26/19 5:11pm)

On January 18th, after marching in the Indigenous Peoples March, Nathan Phillips found himself in the company of white schoolchildren. Nicholas Sandmann and his classmates from Covington Catholic High School—many of them clad in "Make America Great Again" hats and shirts—were seen in a video surrounding Phillips and supposedly heckled the 64-year-old Omaha Nation elder. Currently, there is debate surrounding who actually started the confrontation, what the students said and what they actually believe in politically. Nonetheless, this incident shows how media in the United States plays an active role in upholding present systems of racial inequity, rather than seizing on an opportunity to work with and highlight the issues unique to indigenous peoples. 

Complicit in Cameron

(01/23/19 5:00am)

As it does every year, January brings with it the usual seven-minute C1 conversations: discussions about experiences while studying abroad, arguments over every part of the rush process, surface-level complaints about Duke’s destructive academic culture. And finally, exasperated sighs of how awful it is to sleep in an unheated tent for six weeks in anticipation of one basketball game inside Cameron in late February. These topics help to make easy small talk with acquaintances that for a short time we can consider friendly, but scratching at the surface of these experiences avoids a deeper analysis of these events. Amidst all this small-talk of potentially winning a sixth national title, campus seems to have glossed over problems that plague our basketball program and athletics as a whole.

Shaun King: The man behind the keyboard

(01/21/19 5:00am)

As part of Duke’s Martin Luther King Jr. week commemoration, Shaun King will come to campus Wednesday to deliver a talk at the Reynolds Theater in the Bryan Center. Shaun King, a writer and civil rights activist, is perhaps best known for his extensive social media presence, which he uses to highlight numerous social justice causes such as Black Lives Matter. A testament to his popularity in liberal college circles, tickets for King’s speaking event have been sold out, although interested individuals will be able to watch a live stream of his talk on Duke’s Youtube channel. Despite his popularity and prolific social media presence, King is decidedly a controversial figure—both on the left and the right of the political spectrum. More than just praising King as a paragon of “woke-ness” in our age of digital social media activism, we should take time to critique and ruminate on the many controversies surrounding Shaun King as an activist and leader.

The Folt in our stars

(01/18/19 4:00pm)

On the other side of the Triangle, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chancellor Carol Folt announced her resignation from the institution Monday. Her exit comes at the heels of a tumultuous Fall semester marred by controversy over the place of the Silent Sam confederate statue on campus. Student groups at UNC specifically criticized the statue for symbolizing and memorializing white supremacy and anti-black violence to a diverse student body. Controversy over the statue’s place on campus subsequently led to student protests that climaxed in December of last year with the arrest of two students including Maya Little, a current Ph.D. student in the history department at UNC. Alongside her resignation notice, Folt also announced the removal of Silent Sam’s pedestal, marking the most decisive administrative action yet on the controversial confederate monument. 

The notorious A.O.C.

(01/16/19 5:00am)

In a recent 60 Minutes interview, newly sworn-in Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested a controversial revision to America’s progressive tax code. The modification she proposed—raising the marginal tax rate to 70 percent for high earners on income over $10 million—was met with alarm from top-brass conservative lawmakers and media outlets. House Minority Leader Steve Scalise instigated a Twitter battle on the subject, labeling her proposal as a way to strong-arm Americans into funding “leftist fantasy programs.” Despite such a policy having broad support from Americans, leading economists like Paul Krugman and even conservative figures like Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon, Ocasio-Cortez was slammed as “batsh*t insane” and radical.

On R. Kelly and how we fail black girls

(01/14/19 8:00am)

Earlier this month, two million viewers tuned in for the premiere of Lifetime’s six-part documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly”. The docuseries chronicled the R&B musician’s reported legacy of alleged abuse, predatory behavior and child pornography charges throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Episodes prominently featured the testimony of R. Kelly’s victims, as well as clinical specialists and activists like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. Among this wide swath of voices, a common observation was situated at the center of nearly every interview. Survivors and commentators alike remarked that Black women and girls aren’t seen as victims in situations of sexual violence as a result of societal misogynoir. This documentary reveals a disturbing pattern of racist institutional failings endemic to the American criminal-legal system—failures only further complicated by the state violence that Black citizens routinely face from the same law enforcement officials that claim to protect the public from abusers like R. Kelly.

2019: Looking back, going forward

(01/09/19 5:00am)

The spring semester of 2019 has officially begun, and with the new academic term brings familiar campus rituals. Eager young freshmen—suited up in blazers and decked out in cashmere—graze the open houses of Duke’s Greek and SLG organizations, armed with flatteries in their quest to carve out a social niche on West. Worldly juniors coming back from study-abroad find themselves back inside the Duke bubble, struggling to situate back into the stressed-out syncopations of campus life. Seniors, the last cohort to still remember Grace’s Cafe (you are still dearly missed) and the class of 2016, find themselves in the role of elder statesmen on a campus that has changed dramatically over the past four years since they arrived on East that fateful morning in August of 2015. 

Silence Sam for good

(12/07/18 6:42pm)

On Monday, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees proposed the creation of a multi-million-dollar facility to house Silent Sam—the confederate statue on campus that students toppled in August. In addition to the staggering cost of constructing the building itself, the operating costs are estimated to hover around $800,000 annually. This announcement sparked the latest wave of student protests on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Monday night, hundreds gathered in opposition. Two students were arrested following demonstrations—one of whom was Maya Little, a graduate student and vocal leader in the movement to remove Silent Sam. As the week has progressed, activists have continued to express disapproval and called for teaching assistants and faculty to withhold grading in protest.

The cruelty of ICE

(12/05/18 5:00am)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Samuel Oliver-Bruno on Friday, November 23, and deported him less than a week later. Samuel is a longtime North Carolina resident, having lived in Greenville for two decades until 2011 when he returned to Mexico with his family to take care of his ill father. He returned to North Carolina in 2014 in a search for proper medical treatment for his wife Julia, who had been diagnosed with lupus. It was also during this time that he began taking theology classes at Duke’s Divinity School. While Samuel was originally given a permit to live in the United States due to Julia’s illness, changes in immigration policies under the Trump administration made it impossible for him to apply for renewal. At the time of his arrest, Samuel had been living in sanctuary at the Citywell Church in Durham for 11 months and had spent over 23 cumulative years in North Carolina before being deported. 

Reflecting on H.W.

(12/03/18 5:00am)

George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died Friday, marking the end of a career in public life that has spanned over five decades. A World War II veteran and a Connecticut yankee, Bush moved to Texas after graduating from Yale to pursue a career in the region’s booming oil business. The newly branded Texan then pursued a career in Republican politics beginning in the 1960s, serving as a congressman, ambassador to the United Nations and director of the CIA throughout the next two decades. Picked up by Ronald Reagan to be his vice president in 1980, Bush eventually succeeded Reagan in 1988, easily defeating his Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis in a landslide victory. As president, his administration is probably best known for directing a U.S-led military intervention in the Gulf region, which was widely seen as an American foreign policy victory in the wake of a lingering “Vietnam Syndrome.” After being defeated by Clinton in the 1992 election, Bush retreated from political life, devoting his time between various humanitarian activities and public speaking—even serving as commencement speaker for Duke’s Class of ’98. 

Kids, leave them teachers alone

(11/30/18 5:00am)

Course evaluations for Fall courses went live on DukeHub Tuesday—a reminder that the semester is drawing to a close as we begin the familiar process of providing “constructive” feedback behind the safety of anonymous laptop screens. In as much as these forms signal a familiar end-of-semester ritual, they can also feel somewhat unremarkable to the average upperclassman. Unless your professor has been uniquely inspiring or aggravating, your TA noticeably cheerful or unhelpful, chances are, course evaluations occupy little of your attention during this hectic time of the year. At the same time, these reviews can have a significant impact, particularly on the careers of non-tenured instructors such as teaching assistants and adjunct faculty members. 

Your Asianness and you

(11/28/18 5:00am)

Recently, a new Facebook group, Subtle Asian Traits, has taken the internet by a storm. Common posts are filled with glimpses into childhood homes, cultural in-jokes involving Cantonese phrases and screenshots of texts from parents. The group was created in September by a group of Chinese-Australian school friends and has since grown exponentially to over 700,000 members in under three months.

Fascism and the impulse to surveil

(11/26/18 5:00am)

Despite the majority of undergraduates spending the past week on brief reprieve from campus, Duke still managed to make local news headlines over Thanksgiving break. On Friday, students found multiple stickers and flyers on West Campus bearing the logo of Identity Evropa, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist organization that targets college-aged white men for recruitment. This comes after a semester’s worth of white supremacist hate speech incidents—vandalism of Mary Lou Center, pumpkins carved with swastikas, ‘It’s okay to be white’ flyers on East Campus and a swastika painted over the Pittsburgh shooting mural—which have averaged out to nearly one every three weeks.

A very Duke Thanksgiving

(11/19/18 5:00am)

Thanksgiving. A time for gathering around the dinner table with family and desperately avoiding eye contact with your uncle as he tries to start a conversation about political correctness. A time for retelling historically inaccurate and heavily sanitized versions of colonialism that conveniently skirt around all that genocide stuff.  And, most importantly, a time to give thanks. This year, Editorial Board wants to take a moment to reflect on all the things we are grateful for at our university.