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Opinion | Guest Columns

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An open letter to Provost Sally Kornbluth

The Duke Graduate Students Union was pleased to meet with you this past May to discuss pay issues facing graduate student workers at Duke—namely, a stipend that falls short of the cost of living in Durham; a pay schedule that leaves us without pay for months at a time, including when we first arrive on campus; and continuation fees that make graduating more difficult and that far exceed similar fees at Duke’s peer institutions.


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Beyond the box

As volunteer advocates at the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), a nonprofit that works with individuals toward goals of financial independence, we often work alongside justice-involved community members (those who have come into contact with any part of the criminal justice system) who routinely confront a society that continues to punish them long after they leave detention in the criminal-legal system.


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In defense of Justice Kavanaugh

The confirmation process of Brett Kavanaugh marked a new low point in modern American politics. The fault for this can be found on both sides of the aisle, however, it is Kavanaugh’s opponents on the left, with their sanctimonious halo-polishing, who should be particularly ashamed of themselves.


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Housekeepers: our family, exploited

Thanks to Doan & Satisky’s excellent article, “Housekeepers to rebid for shifts, locations as union president resigns in protest,” the greater campus community is now aware of a grave injustice that has been unfolding for several weeks in relative silence.


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The Austrian School did not create the alt-right

The points which Eladio Bobadilla makes in his recent article, “Accepting Koch Money” is troubling in that it assigns cause for the rise of violent nationalism in this country to a school of thought that is, based on its underpinning tenets, fundamentally at odds with the alt-right movement. 


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Duke is getting Koch money: That should worry you

We are only a couple of weeks removed from Silent Sam coming down in Chapel Hill; it has been just over a year since Duke University removed the likeness of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Duke Chapel’s entrance; and the university’s History Department is currently working to rename the building where it’s housed, currently named after industrialist and white supremacist Julian Carr.


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When bad things happen

With the semester only days underway, we’ve already seen some of the worst of our nature in and around our campus—racial epithets, skirmishes around Silent Sam and likely dozens of other incidents that never rose to the attention of public scrutiny—often without any clear offender to blame.


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Where is the line? Asking for a friend

I would like to pose a couple of questions to those members of the Duke “family” who believe the administration is doing enough to address issues of hate and discrimination on campus. Note the quotations, meant to illustrate how loosely a term can be applied as a mere buzzword where it does not belong. The inability of our administrative “parents” to protect and educate the children with which they have been entrusted seems antithetical to my understanding of “family.” Then again, maybe minority students at Duke are the black sheep of this family. Sobering pun entirely intended.


The empty space in the Chapel's entryway a year after the Robert E. Lee statue was removed.
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Fill the void: On the empty space outside the Chapel

In 2017, President Vince Price made a bold decision. At the height of protests against monuments commemorating the Confederacy, anonymous protesters damaged the sculptural portrayal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on the exterior of Duke Chapel. Without delay, Price had the statue taken down and promised a debate. The happy result: tensions did not escalate, and Duke demonstrated an institutional awareness of its historical baggage. (Compare that to UNC down the road, where protests against Silent Sam, the Confederate statue on campus, led to no resolution. Monday, the day before classes started, protesters took it down overnight, in a widely reported scene.) Three weeks after Duke’s statue was removed, Price set up a commission which began a long debate on what to do with the newly empty space. In 2018, President Price made a decision that was less brave, unfortunately. In an email last week he decided to follow a recommendation the commission made last December: to leave the space empty. The commission had recommended doing this for a year. President Price now apparently wants the space to remain empty indefinitely. The justification, borrowed from the Dean of the Chapel, is that the empty space may be seen to represent “a hole that is in the heart of the United States of America, and perhaps in our own human hearts—that hole that is from the sin of racism and hatred of any kind.” A plaque will explain this.


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'Sing, Unburied, Sing' and us: Duke Honor Council summer reading contest winner

Acknowledging our roots as an intrinsically collaborative species, I wonder if it is entirely unrealistic to imagine a society in which individuals give and receive assistance readily, regardless of personal identity. When I reflect on society’s current status though, I realize we are moving in quite the opposite direction. It appears that though our web of diverse, global communities becomes increasingly connected every year, our personal regard for others diminishes in tandem.


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Dear Duke freshman boy,

Sexual assault is not only one of the most harmful actions committed on Duke’s campus, but it is also one of the most frequent. As one of many Duke students who did not understand the pervasive nature of sexual assault when I came to college, education on the subject has taken time. I am writing this column in an effort to start the discussion earlier, particularly for freshmen and sophomores at Duke, whose awareness could protect victims and prevent rape.