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5 Questions for Christopher Schroeder

(07/08/08 4:00am)

The interrogation techniques ordered by the Bush administration for use on Guantanamo Bay detainees have sparked controversy in part due to the administration's secrecy in implementing the tactics. Duke law professor Christopher Schroeder served as assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel from 1996 to 1997, and testified June 26 before a subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary regarding the role of OLC lawyers in advising the president.


(07/08/08 4:00am)

Change comes quickly at the University, and other times not at all. New additions this fall will include a new athletics director, a new dean of engineering, a coffee shop, a yet-to-be-named Asian restaurant, and seven pole-mounted warning sirens for campus emergencies.

Barbara Kingsolver

(05/09/08 4:00am)

Barbara Kingsolver, author and recipient of the National Humanities Medal, will deliver the 2008 commencement address Sunday. "Barbara Kingsolver is a writer whose works have been read and honored around the globe," President Richard Brodhead said in a statement announcing Kingsolver's selection in November. "She's also an extraordinary speaker. When she spoke at Duke in the spring of 2006, she captured a large audience with her warmth, humor and incisiveness." She is the mother of junior Camille Kingsolver and third consecutive commencement speaker with direct ties to Duke. Brodhead said Kingsolver's connection to the University would enhance her address to graduating students. "As a Duke parent, she will understand the special meaning of Duke's commencement ceremony, and I am delighted she will join us," Brodhead said. Bestselling author of "The Poisonwood Bible" published in 1998 and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Kingsolver also established the Bellwether Prize for Fiction in 1997 to reward writers of socially responsible literature. "Kingsolver is not only a premier American writer, but her personal and educational background demonstrates the influence of having an interdisciplinary background," Paula McClain, chair of the Academic Council and a professor of political science, wrote in an e-mail last November. "Her work is inspiring and thoughtful and brings together many facets of her own life into the pages of her fiction." Kingsolver is the author of twelve books, having penned "The Bean Trees" in 1987 and more recently 2007's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life," which she wrote with her husband Steven Hopp and daughter Camille. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" chronicles her family's one-year commitment to being "lovacores"-eating only food grown by themselves and local farmers in southwestern Virginia. "It has a lot of advice for Duke students heading out in the world and taking the next few steps," said Lauren Genvert, a senior who served on the commencement committee. "I'm sure she'll impart a lot of wisdom to the Class of 2008." Kingsolver will be one of five-also including author Wendell Berry, public health leader Helene Gayle, broadcast executive James Goodmon and judge Patricia Wald-to be awarded an honorary degree at the ceremony. "Honorary degrees serve the dual purpose of recognizing extraordinary individuals and inspiring graduating students," Brodhead said in a statement April 3. "Students about to embark on their own careers, full of hope and promise, see at commencement these wonderful examples of how they might put their own learning to use in the future." Matt Johnson and Zak Kazzaz contributed to this story.

Virginia Tech massacre anniversary

(04/17/08 4:00am)

About 40 Durham community members gathered in front of the Chapel at noon Wednesday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre and protest easy access to guns across the nation. Dressed in full black and wearing orange and maroon ribbons, the protestors-mostly middle-aged women-staged a silent lie-in for three minutes to signify the small amount of time it takes for someone to purchase a gun. The demonstration was part of a nation-wide event observed by at least 80 colleges in 33 states around the country, including four other schools in North Carolina.

CCI still shows few real changes

(03/07/08 5:00am)

About a year ago, the Campus Culture Initiative Steering Committee released a report with findings and suggestions for improving student life. The 36-page document targeted six key areas for change, with specific recommendations ranging from disbanding selective living sections to raising admissions standards. A year later and after numerous meetings with students and another two administrative reports, however, few policy changes have resulted from the controversial document. And a look back into the University's archives shows a history of similar reports over the decades, raising questions about whether any progress has been made on several recurring issues of campus life. "Many if not all of the recommendations made in the CCI have probably been made before," said Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek, Trinity '76 and Grad '78, who has held her position for 27 years. "Some of them were made to a greater extreme with the CCI [report], but there's a fairly significant relationship or commonality to past reports." What sets the CCI report apart? In the 1992 Founder's Day Speech, Reynolds Price, Trinity '55 and a James B. Duke professor of English, described the lack of intellectualism he perceived among students and encouraged an overhaul of policies and practices, including the elimination of greek life. Price's speech incited an intent search into Duke's campus culture that culminated in "Work Hard, Play Hard," a comprehensive report written by former dean of the Chapel William Willimon in 1993. Seven years later, Willimon penned "Old Duke, New Duke," which echoes a number of the same themes from his earlier report, especially alcohol prevalence and student-faculty interaction. The first Willimon report describes the student apathy Price cited in his speech, and suggests improvement in residential life, greek life and alcohol policy. Last year's CCI report addresses similar themes and also characterizes Duke's social scene as more destructive than constructive to its community. "The [Steering] Committee came to better understand problems that exist-ranging from simple acts of uncivil speech and intolerance to what some have called a 'culture of excess'-and it worked to identify points of progress that could help Duke achieve its institutional aspirations," the report reads. But Wasiolek said the CCI report's much more comprehensive nature sets it apart from past documents on campus culture. "The other [reports] were more singularly focused. I can't recall one that tried to bring all of those [campus issues] together and spoke specifically to race and to gender," she said. Provost Peter Lange, who wrote the September 2007 Interim Report on Undergraduate Education as a follow-up to the CCI, said past reports focused more on the negative elements of campus life, whereas current discussions highlight strengths and outline ways for improvement. "Rather than just talking about getting rid of something, we talk about enhancing options and alternatives," he said. Although the themes of these reports remain similar throughout the years, Wasiolek said the environment they originate from changes over time. "The process may be very repetitive and similar, but the people involved in it and the culture that's being examined are very different," she said. 'Creative dissatisfaction' Wasiolek said issues that are pervasive in higher level education are generally re-evaluated as part of the natural process of a university's self-analysis. University Archivist Tim Pyatt, Trinity '81, said Duke's relative youth and sense of "creative dissatisfaction" encourage it to push for continual improvement. He noted that studies of campus culture and life have been produced almost every decade, and sometimes more frequently, since the University's inception. "The University's culture is one that doesn't rest on our laurels," said Tom Harkins, associate university archivist for research services. Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki, who himself authored "Uniting Old and New," a report released this week outlining plans for a revamped campus, noted that Duke students seem to be more critical of their university than other students at other colleges. "I think Duke students are probably a little too cynical because they haven't been listened to in recent history," he said. "I'd like us to be more positively self-critical-not to complain about things, but talk about how can we change together." Making future change The two new reports issued in the past year were influenced by several findings of the CCI report and the discussions that followed. Nowicki's report provides concrete recommendations for addressing space issues while envisioning the changes to Central Campus. He said, however, that future proposals will aim to address the other issues highlighted in the CCI report. But some students have noted that the top-down efforts to examine student life and the slow pace of institutional change are reasons to question the efficacy of campus culture reports. Lange and Nowicki said students must engage in the discussions that follow such reports in order for the policies to be well-informed and successful. "I just think that you can't change things from orders on high if the students don't embrace it [or] don't come up with it," Nowicki said.

'Here it goes again:' Crazies rev up for Duke-UNC

(03/07/08 5:00am)

OK Go learned a new phrase last night: "Go to hell, Carolina, go to hell." Throngs of Krzyzewskiville residents and non-residents alike gathered in the Card Gymnasium parking lot to celebrate the famous blue-on-blue rivalry while rocking out to band OK Go in the first-ever K-ville concert. Throughout the show, students sporadically shouted the rivalry chant in their enthusiasm for the upcoming game. Dressed up in formal suits while facing a crowd mostly clad in sweat suits, band members praised tenters' spirits and their ability to brave the K-ville experience. "Tim [Nordwind] lived in a tent for a month once. It wasn't pretty," lead singer Damian Kulash said. "What I'm saying is, we sympathize. You're f-ing out of your minds." The pop-rock band performed for an hour, returning to the stage to play two extra songs in an encore. Several students said they were eagerly waiting for OK Go to bring out the treadmills to perform the choreography made famous in their "Here It Goes Again" music video. "They could have imported them from Wilson [Recreation Center]," suggested sophomore Anne Jiao. Junior Vincent Ling, head of production for Duke University Union's Major Attractions committee, said the group could not perform on treadmills due to liability issues. Despite the lack of their endearing dance moves, OK Go rocked out K-ville in a concert rounding out a week of pre-Duke-Carolina-game festivities. They played hit singles "Here It Goes Again" and "A Million Ways"-the latter performed on a raised platform in the middle of the student crowd. Student rock band Stella by Starlight opened the concert with a variety of music, throwing in a couple club songs-including "Crank That" by rapper Soulja Boy Tell'em-at the end of their performance. Returning for an encore, the four members of the headliner band donned suit jackets that lighted up graphic letters on their backs to spell "OK Go." "It added a pretty quirky touch to the show," Ling said. Kulash kept with the lively tone by climbing onto mega-speakers, and at one point he leaned out into the audience from the stage and supported himself with sophomore Adam Barron's hand, threatening to crowd surf. "His hand was firm and warm and manly," Barron said. He added that the band interacted with the audience well and brought high energy to the concert and crowd. "They were perfect for K-ville," he said. But sophomore Lucius Walker said the band did not appeal to his taste. "I thought [they] sucked. OK Go is a mediocre band, and they give me too much of an indie-emo vibe," he said. Despite his different musical preference, Walker said he thought the concert idea was a great improvement to the usual personal-checks festivities DUU hosts. "For something that hasn't been done before, it went really well," said junior Chamindra Goonewardene, chair of the Major Attractions committee and DUU president-elect. "It's something that we're definitely looking into doing next year." The show was the last DUU concert of the year. "It was a free concert everyone got to enjoy, so it was a really good way to end the year," Goonewardene said.