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There's something about Gina

(03/21/18 4:00am)

Last week, President Trump announced via Twitter that he would be formally nominating Gina Haspel for the position of the Director of the CIA being vacated by incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Gina Haspel, a long-time member of the CIA for over thirty years, is the current deputy secretary and has been involved in many intelligence operations during her tenure within the organization. In an administration plagued with charges of misogyny, Haspel’s nomination has been praised by some conservative pundits as a victory for women and as an act that is emblematic of Trump’s commitment to gender diversity in government. Although Haspel’s position as a leading female administrator in a decidedly male-dominated governmental office cannot be denied, to paint her nomination as an astonishing milestone for women’s rights is far from the truth. Her previous background in CIA-backed torture schemes, as well as her role as a white woman in a position of patriarchal authority, decidedly go against the ideals of feminism. 

March madness mayhem

(03/20/18 4:00am)

For days, basketball fans around the country meticulously crafted their perfect brackets in preparation for this year’s March Madness. However, regardless of how much time was spent weighing odds, checking player statistics or revising outcomes, few could have predicted the number of lower seed teams that would topple high ranked NCAA giants. Within just the first two rounds, Michigan State fell to Syracuse, Arizona to Buffalo, Miami to Loyola and UNC to Texas A&M. All these losses shocked casual fans and seasoned commentators alike, but none as much as the historic 20-point battering that the No. 1 seed Virginia took from a relatively unknown underdog team. Once the University of Maryland-Baltimore County knocked out UVA, it dominated headlines everywhere. Sports reporters were asking who these kids were and how they pulled off this win that was, statistically-speaking, nearly impossible. Although, despite this upset only recently throwing UMBC into the spotlight, this university is far more than a basketball Cinderella story.

Internship blues

(03/19/18 4:00am)

Calls for fare-splitting Ubers crowding social media news feeds, a steady stream of suitcases rolling on asphalt and the palpable dread of postponed midterms: all telltale signs that Spring Break 2018 has officially come to an end. Despite the forecast of temperatures barely hitting above sixty (and even potential snow this week), summer appears much closer now that the one week respite has drawn to a close. Along with the last stretch of classes before finals comes talk of jobs, internships and prestigious summer programs. It seems that childhood summers filled with family and idle days are long gone and the pressure to achieve something, to accumulate work experience and to earn money is prioritized over all.

Vote Blitz for VP of RB

(03/09/18 5:00am)

Today, Duke undergraduates will go to the polls to decide who will be DSG’s newest Vice President for Resume-Building. The new position of VP of RB is a direct creation of DSG’s Resume-Boosting Committee, which decided to expand the executive board starting this year as a way for the organization to include more civic-minded perspectives. On the ballot for the new DSG position are three extremely talented peers who all wish to make a difference in the world through student government: juniors Mikayla Johnson, Alex Blitz and first-year Paul Jones. After carefully considering the unique, extremely original platforms of each candidate, we strongly encourage the student body to rank Alex Blitz first when voting for VP of RB today. His platform, one that emphasizes inclusion and transparency, is one that we ultimately found to be extremely visionary and completely achievable within the span of one academic year.

Observing International Women's Day

(03/08/18 5:00am)

Today March 8th, marks International Women’s Day (IWD). Ever since it was first established by the New York branch of the Socialist Party of America in 1909, millions of people across the world have used today to celebrate the movement for women’s rights. One hundred years later, the importance of bringing attention to women’s rights through International Women’s Day still remains. Given that this commemorative holiday has historically been associated with a reflection on women’s struggles in various areas of social and economic life and visionary goals for the future, it’s crucial to reflect upon the many challenges that continue to hinger women of all intersectional groups and to highlight some of the important fights that are being waged by women around the world and in our own communities. 

Vote Smith for president

(03/07/18 5:00am)

Tomorrow and Friday, Duke undergraduates will elect a new DSG president to helm the organization for the 2018-19 academic year. Students will be tasked with choosing from a pool of five extremely talented and zealous peers: juniors Kristina Smith, Sean Bissell, Sabriyya Pate and Yemi Kolawole along with first-year Jamal Burns. Their respective platforms and visions for the University encompass everything from combating sexual assault to working towards structural reforms within DSG itself. After strongly considering the specifics of each candidate’s platform, we strongly encourage the student body to rank Kristina Smith, current vice president for services and sustainability, first when voting this week. 

Duking it out at the ballot box

(03/06/18 5:00am)

This Thursday and Friday, the student body will collectively rank eight of their extremely accomplished, talented peers for the positions of DSG executive vice-president and president. At a research university with a compact undergraduate population exceeding 6,000, the positions of DSG President and EVP can inspire a certain type of awe and reverence. Here, within a pool of some of the brightest and most talented students from all across the world, we annually elect one of our peers to helm DSG in the hopes that they will lead the student body in a more progressive direction as “The Duke of Duke.” Such saccharine idealism aside, it is important leading up to DSG election day, that students truly reflect on what it means to be a leader on this campus beyond the campaign flyers and Facebook profile pictures.

Vote Lintz for EVP

(03/05/18 5:00am)

Later this week, undergraduates will elect a new executive vice-president for the 2018-2019 academic year. Although often eclipsed by the flashier position of DSG president, the EVP represents an equally paramount leader within the organization. As stated within the DSG Constitution, the EVP is the “second- highest ranking officer of the DSG” and is tasked with duties like “[assisting] the President in the proper and orderly administration of the business of the DSG.” Constitutional specifics aside, the role of EVP is one without a specifically defined agenda. As brought up in our interviews with all four candidates, there are multiple, competing visions about what role an EVP can take in leading the student body. In the end, Alec Lintz’s vision—one that primarily promotes internal organizational improvements—represented the agenda most board members agreed with. When voting later this week, we strongly encourage the student body to rank Lintz first for EVP. 

Dissenting at Duke

(03/02/18 6:00am)

From the devastating scene at Columbine to the tragedy at Sandy Hook, a seemingly unshakable pattern has arisen in response to classroom shootings: grief, outrage and then collective silence. That was, however, until Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students began mobilizing soon after violence rocked their community. The young leaders in this wave of support for legislative gun reform have made appearances on a televised CNN town hall, daytime cable shows and have given countless interviews for journalists, further galvanizing students around the country. As a result of this, various universities—including Duke—have begun releasing statements ensuring that high schoolers organizing for this cause their activism won’t negatively impact their admission chances. While this has been met with praise by many and make institutions like Duke appear enthusiastic about exercises of dissent, the historical and contemporary attitudes towards activism on campus tells a much different story.

Housing hazards

(03/01/18 8:00am)

This week, in a letter to the brand new Blue Devils making up the Class of 2022, Duke announced a major change in first year housing policy. Larry Moneta and Steve Nowicki cited a recent uptick in roommate pre-selection—leading to a homogenizing of East Campus living arrangements—as a critical factor in this decision. The announcement assured students that the housing process change would prove to be ultimately beneficial to them and would bring about rich opportunities to meet someone entirely new. While administrators seem fully secure in this new direction, this sudden shift isn’t without its problems and implementation difficulties. 

Board of disconnected trustees

(02/28/18 5:00am)

This past weekend, the Board of Trustees voted to once again increase undergraduate tuition, this time by 3.9 percent. While this annual increase is marginally less than the typical 4.0 percent average over the last decade, Duke’s official cost of attendance for the 2018-2019 year now stands at above $70,000 for the first time. This decision, like all decisions made by the Board, was reached behind closed, mahogany doors inside the luxurious comfort of the Washington Duke Inn. Indeed, the fact that a disconnected group of wealthy, majority-white elites (the collective net worth of the Board numbering in the billions) possess the ability to simply rubber-stamp such drastic tuition increases upon thousands of students, should be troubling to many within the Duke community. 

Quenching student opinion

(02/27/18 5:00am)

Quenchers, the locally owned and managed post-workout eatery in Wilson, has always occupied a special position within the hearts of many health-savvy Duke students. It should come as no surprise that many Duke students became outraged when it was announced, through a post on Fix My Campus, that Quenchers would be replaced by Red Mango at the end of this semester. Armed with petition signatures and angry Facebook posts, the Duke community set out to challenge the decision of Duke Dining and Duke Recreation to replace the establishment. Although the internal politics of Quenchers’ replacement, as many on Fix My Campus have noted, is much more nuanced than the typical narrative of Duke pushing out local business, the decision still underscores the many problems associated with administrative decisions related to dining on this campus. 

Lesson plans and handguns

(02/26/18 6:00am)

Since the U.S. was once again struck by a horrific mass shooting on February 14th, there have been non-stop calls to action coming from all corners of the nation. Gun reform activists and shooting survivors—fearful the violent rampage that took the lives of seventeen students in Parkland, Florida would once again be subject to the now-routine cycle of grief, debate, then public amnesia—have put forth demands for legislators to act now. In response to the mounting pressure to act, President Trump publicly embraced a potential policy endorsed by the National Rifle Association: arming teachers in the classroom. His vaguely outlined and data-absent proposal included a pay bonus as incentive and federal funds for undefined amounts of training. However, President Trump isn’t the only public official touting this direction. The North Carolina State Legislature isn’t ruling out this course of action as they develop a new committee for school safety. Despite the proposal being entirely unreasonable for most other comparable countries, it has gotten a troubling amount of traction as of late, necessitating an outline of how deeply dangerous it would be to add more guns to the already volatile safety situation. 

The status of statues

(02/23/18 6:00am)

Earlier this week—after months of courtroom visits and campaigns of political pressure—the remaining charges were dropped against protesters involved in the toppling of a Durham confederate soldier statue last summer. This marks a significant victory for the highly-publicized protesters who have faced criticism in the long-standing debate around the fate of Civil War monuments, a national conversation that reached its most recent boiling point in the wake of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally that result in the death of a counter-demonstrator, Heather Heyer. In light of the retracted charges, it would serve us well to revisit and reflect on why the future of these statues remain a contentious talking point.

Illuminating the light rail

(02/22/18 6:00am)

In 2011, Durham residents voted to increase sales tax by a half-cent to fund a light rail project connecting Durham and Chapel Hill. Seven years later—and little to show for that decision—residents of both cities are still waiting to see what the future of the $3.3 billion project will look like under President Trump’s infrastructure plan. Durham Mayor Steve Schewel maintains confidence that the plan will still come to fruition considering that the line will not only connect three major universities in the Triangle, but also two of North Carolina’s largest employers: Duke University Hospital and UNC-CH. While this projected plan has generated excitement among many—including Duke students that may want an alternative to taking a pricey Uber ride to Franklin Street on Halloween—there are serious local effects when light rails are built and these potential externalities must be thoroughly considered if Durham is going to responsibly develop into a larger, transit-oriented city.

'68 to '18

(02/21/18 5:00am)

It is 2018, which means that it has been fifty years since that iconic year in Americana: 1968. For millions of Americans who lived through ‘68, the events that year defined a generation and still continue to impact current events today. Looking back at the many demonstrations, assassinations and scandals that defined 1968, we can note some obvious parallels to the present experiences of so many Americans in 2018. 

Shame on Nancy MacLean

(02/20/18 5:00am)

In a talk given two weeks ago about her new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, Duke history professor Nancy MacLean controversially postulated a link between libertarianism and autism, claiming that many of the ideology’s leaders “seem to be on the autism spectrum.” Her comments have since sparked outrage within many conservative and libertarian circles, including here at Duke. Duke Young Americans for Liberty—formerly known as Duke Libertarians—have specifically formed a petition calling for Duke University to publicly condemn MacLean’s statement. The petition has generated 74 signatures so far, but no official comment from the University has been released as of now. 

An Americana death: Part III

(02/19/18 5:00am)

As the Editorial Board, we express our sorrow for the tragedy in Parkland, Florida that has resulted in the deaths of 17 schoolchildren and teachers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those stricken with a tragedy that now seems intractable from the news cycle. Yet we also recognize the futility of prayers in absence of initiative being taken to prevent the next atrocity. Moreover, gun control is often addressed only after mass shootings and not also in response to tragedies like the 586 gun homicides in Chicago in 2016 alone. We intend therefore to reflect on this most recent tragedy as part of a greater trend within an American narrative so willing to sacrifice the safety of innocent citizens to protect our Second Amendment rights. 

Failing the 40 percent

(02/16/18 5:00am)

On Tuesday, a superior court judge sided with Duke junior Ciaran McKenna, permanently barring Duke from suspending him over sexual misconduct allegations. Last November, after two hearings and an appellate process, the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) found McKenna responsible for violating the University’s sexual misconduct policy, concluding that McKenna had sexually assaulted a female student. When McKenna’s second attempt at the appellate process was denied, he sued Duke for misapplying the “reasonable person standard.” His case is one of many shedding light on the extremely troubling aspects of our University’s student conduct process. 

Fix my parking

(02/15/18 5:00am)

For the past several weeks, the Duke Facebook group “Fix My Campus” has been flooded with complaints from undergraduates lamenting the injustice of the current parking system. The complaints range from multiple tickets being issued on one day for the same offense to encroachment tickets for parking on fainted lines. These complaints are nothing new with published complaints going back at least ten years. Moreover, such grievances also highlight a number of flaws within Duke’s current Parking and Transportation Services that desperately is in need of reform.