Duke Disorientation Guide 2019-2020


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Duke Disorientation Guide 2019-2020




Durham, North Carolina

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duke disorientation guide 

Table of Contents 
Letter from the Disorientation Guide Editors

Letter to the Disorientation Guide: Do Better

There’s only four steps...then the rest is up to you

Welcome to Duke


Thriving at Duke


Here's what I wish I knew before I took out $22,500 in student loans


Duke Farm


On unruly bodies and how to cope with being in-between


Duke Students for Justice in Palestine


Disability and accessibility


An outline of statements and questions concerning DukeEngage


History of hate and bias incidents at Duke




Letter from the Disorientation Guide Editors 
Dear Reader, 
As the editors of the Duke Disorientation Guide 2019-2020, we want to use this space to 
apologize and take accountability for our systematic and critical failure to create a 
publication that truly centers Black, Brown and Indigenous leadership, students, and 
perspectives—which is the fundamental purpose of a disorientation guide.   
A disorientation guide is meant to shed light on realities, experiences, and histories that are 
minimized, forgotten, or repressed at Duke. It is a space that is meant for the creation and 
sharing of knowledge to make the university more survivable, specifically for students 
whose lives and experiences are most often erased at the university.  
Considering these goals, this year’s leadership had an inexcusable lack of Black, Brown, 
Indigenous people, and other differently marginalized students involved in the planning, 
organization, and execution of the disorientation guide. It was not enough for us to solicit 
submissions from marginalized students but not actively center them in the 
decision-making process. By failing to do this, we engaged in an exploitative relationship 
that valued their intellectual and creative labor over the people themselves. For a project 
that wanted to challenge and upend structural racism and other forms of oppression, we 
perpetuated them instead.  
Given this and the team losing capacity over the summer, we did not continue with 
creating a full-fledged guide, putting energy into a project that was counterproductive and 
hypocritical. However, to simply terminate the project and avoid taking responsibility for 
the harm we’ve caused would have also been an incorrect decision. We also wanted to 
honor the people who had taken the time to contribute and to make their work and 
knowledge accessible. Therefore, we are releasing this year’s as a compilation of 
We still believe in the spirit of the disorientation guide as a platform for students to 
collectively conspire against the university and share strategies for self and mutual care. 
However, we recognize the extractive and exploitative process we engaged in for this 
year’s disorientation guide, and we are deeply sorry for harms we have caused in 
attempting to create a publication for—but not by—Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other 
different marginalized students.  

As long as students continue to struggle and resist the oppressive systems at Duke 
University and beyond, the work of disorientation guides will remain vital. But we know 
moving forward that we must take a step back and actively decenter ourselves in these 
struggles. Our hope is that our mistakes can be learned from in the creation of genuinely 
equitable relationships, communities, and systems and that the words in this disorientation 
guide may prove useful for students striving for justice.  
In love and reflection, 
The editors of Duke Disorientation Guide 2019-2020  
Annie and Nicholas  


Letter to the Disorientation Guide: Do Better 
Sanjidah Ahmed 
Dear Disorientation Guide Editor and Organizers,  
I love disorientation guides. I think collective knowledge-making, writing, and creation are 
incredible life-giving and subversive tools. The ethos behind a disorientation guide is 
something I will always feel in my spirit. On the other hand, how the fuck do you make a 
disorientation guide without centering the voices and perspectives of Black, Indigenous, 
and brown voices? During my time at People’s State of the University, I’ve watched as my 
fellow “anti-racist” comrades became increasingly comfortable and complacent with the 
glaring absence of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other brown folks at our organizing 
meetings. From time to time, I would sit in a room and try to bring up the issue in a polite 
way. “I am concerned with the uh demographics of this organization. If you notice, there 
are some clear absences of ​certain ​groups of people, and it’s kind of problematic given 
that we call ourselves an anti-racist organization.” There would be an uncomfortable 
silence, maybe a nod or two, and then we would go on business as usual. The same has 
been my experience with trying to bring this issue up with Disorientation Guide (DG) 
Specifically, I have confided a countless number of times in a friend, who is also the Editor 
of this year’s (2019-2020) DG, my frustration with the lack (read: total absence) of Black 
and Indigenous people in the planning of the Disorientation Guide. When I asked him if his 
fellow DG organizers had tried reaching out to groups like BSA, NASA, The Bridge, etc. I 
was told that the previous year, people from Asian Student Association (ASA) who planned 
the 2018-2019 Disorientation Guide had tried reaching out to said orgs but “they weren’t 
interested.” I then asked if the people behind last year’s DG asked not just for 
contributions but inclusion. I asked if they had tried to include Black, brown, and 
Indigenous people as organizers in planning, putting together, and thinking up and through 
the Disorientation Guide. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a really good idea.” 
Apparently, not a good enough idea to be put into practice.  
First, if the people your guide is supposed to be for, the most marginalized students, have 
no buy-in in your creative and political project, then ask yourselves: who is your project 
actually for? Interestingly, the DG organizers have compiled an impressively 
comprehensive list of the different affinity groups they want representation from: this list 
includes undocumented, first generation, Black, Indigenous, disabled students among 
others. However, no such energy has been put into recruiting these same individuals in 

actually being part of the planning and envisioning of the guide. What does it mean for 
wanting the DG to thrive on the the basis of the words, thoughts, and creative labor of 
different marginalized people (including Black, Indigenous, brown, undocumented, 
immigrant, and disabled people as per your list) when those same people were not asked 
to be at the table? Personally, I would call that extraction. 
As people constructing this narrative, collecting voices, and organizing this project, you 
have a position of power and a position of privilege you can utilize. You can utilize that to 
include us in the organizing, thinking, and creating of this project, rather than asking for our 
voices to be included in submissions after the fact. And if this indeed a project 
orchestrated by the “People’s State of the University,” then it should probably have 
occurred to you at some point that you are missing something: ​the people. 
Because I believe that the curators of the DG do actually care about these issues, I’ve 
made a list of suggestions as ​starting points ​for how you can do better:  
1. Reach out to various Black, brown, Indigenuous organizations ​before ​planning the 
guide so that they have buy-in and input from the beginning. For example, you 
could have (and can still) reach out to NASA, BSA, BMU, MSA, Mi Gente, the 
Bridge, etc. Also reach out to Black, brown, and Indigenous leaders, creatives, 
activists, organizers, and individuals and ask for their participation and input from 
the very beginning.  
2. Assign leadership to differently marginalized people. Your leadership should center 
Black, brown, immigrant, undocumented, Indigeous, (dis)abled, queer, non-binary, 
and femme folks. 
3. Make sure that you do not stop at representation or even inclusion. The most 
marginalized perspectives need to be ​centered ​and spaces must be organized in 
accordance to making them comfortable, accessible, and accountable to those you 
want to center/include/represent.  
4. Know who you are accountable to. Think explicitly of what various communities you 
are accountable to - and ask yourselves how this accountability is reflected in your 
spaces, leadership, membership, creative and production process, and your 
5. A radical creative project should ​matter t​ o those most marginalized. Do they 
communities your accountable to care about your work? Do they read and share it? 
If not, what would be a creative project look like that does excite, include, and 
center these communities? 

I hope you read this and take it to heart, and have something better to say than “Oh, I 
hadn’t thought of that. That’s a really good idea.” I’ve organized alongside some of you, 
and I’ve befriended others, and I know and believe that you/we can do better. For the love 
of liberation, do better.  
With critical love,  
Sanjidah Ahmed, Class of 2019*  


There’s only four steps...then the rest is up 
to you 
Cartier Robinson 
It’s funny how you have this image of what college will be like 
Never picturing that it would be more of a hike 
Full of ups and downs 
And doesn’t stop till you hit the speed of sound 
But don’t worry I’ll teach you how to survive 
Maybe along the way you’ll figure out how to thrive 
First step, you have to plant your feet on the ground 
Right now, you’re floating and it’s beautiful and all 
But soon you will need to find something to keep you bound 
Because when the winds of Duke comes during fall 
You’re going to need an anchor or twenty 
You’re probably asking, but what could those anchors be? 
I got a few ideas possibly plenty 
You have to find friends that don’t make you want to flee 
And I’m not talking about those “friends” you make during o-week 
I’m talking about those who challenge you and your perceptions 
Who understands your passion and values your expression 
But beware of their racial and gender misconceptions 
Don’t let this be made up by their high fashion 
Understand that you walk around privilege 
And don’t think it only comes in the form of a white man 
You don’t want to be fooled by one’s image 
Brace yourself though, this is only one part of understanding the grand plan 
Second Step, be responsive and not reactive 
Understand that it’s OK to say no 
Understand that it’s Ok to say yes 
Understand that you have to take whatever I say with a grain of salt, you know? 
Understand that college is the time for experimenting and stress 
Understand that college is not the place for getting EMS’d 
Understand that when that bill comes you’re going to want to cry yourself to sleep 
Understand that your strengths and limits are yours and don’t let them be pressed 

Understand that it’s OK to take a leap 
Understand that not everyone knows what you’re going or gone through 
Understand that it’s OK to weep 
Understand that things will make you blue 
Understand that you might find yourself anew 
Understand that things will happen when their due 
And now you’re halfway through 
Third Step, understand the art of finesse 
Almost everything will be a test 
And as unfortunate as this sounds you won’t get an A on each one 
Don’t worry though, it’s not the end of the world 
Because thanks to Duke, you’ll surely learn the art of finesse 
Which means that the connections you make 
Will help you more than the perfect grade 
I’m not saying finding opportunities will be a piece of cake 
And you won’t be fighting with financial aid 
But believe that you were meant to be here 
And that reason may not always be made clear 
Maybe what I have to say next may help you out 
And clear you of at least some doubt 
This last step has to be the hardest of them all 
And beforehand I’m sorry for sounding cliché 
This is something you will need for the rest of your life 
Which will keep you focused throughout your strife 
You ready? 
Believe in yourself 
Because although you may have your group of friends 
Who will support your many endeavors 
And shade you for your tragic mistakes 
You may also know when to respond 
And when to react 
You may know the art of finesse 
But you will not survive Duke without believing in yourself 
You need to see that you’re beyond the pages found on a bookshelf 
Despite whatever gender, racial, or sexual stereotypes you may face 
You being here is more than a special case 
With this I bring my guide to survive to a close 
Let’s see how your story goes 

Welcome to Duke 
Welcome to Duke. ​It's a perfect place​. Here we have some rules. Let us lay them down. 
Don't make waves. Stay in line. And we'll get along fine. 
All Shreks aside, though, Duke kind of is a perfect place. There's a world-class Western 
education (which is what we're all here for despite our indignation at Westernism), a dining 
hall that's more like a gourmet food court, elite athleticism on display, easy access to 
money, drugs, and sex, and virtually no lasting consequences for anything 
non-murderous. Getting into Duke was the hard part. It's smooth sailing from now on, ​if 
you don't get in your own way.  
The biggest hurdle for many incoming Duke students, particularly those of us who are 
socially liberal and fiscally conservative, will be getting a B+ in econ 101 and realizing we 
may not be the best or the brightest anymore. But with the help of a course or two in 
Nietzschean nihilism, we remember we're here for a good time, not a long time.  
Of course, there's probably going to be a bit more disorientation for those belonging to 
one or more marginalized communities, but no worries. Most of us can triumph here with a 
little positive thinking and a lot of rainbow capitalism.  
Let's solve poverty, shall we? Sweet daddy Duke has gifted 43% of us with a discounted, 
or even free, bacchanalian lifestyle of luxury with a side of education that doubles as a 
license to rule the world.  
Gradually, between steak dinners at The Commons and the Sig Ep foam party, a fondness 
builds for this charming life despite lingering working-class rage. I mean, so many of our 
new friends are Wall Street brats, Phillips Exeter Alumni, and one's even a Koch. We're 
shocked to find that none of them are ​evil. I​ t's not their fault mom lost her job in 2008. 
These are normal people whose families had presumably worked hard at some point. And 
now, we are them.  
All we have to do is keep our heads up and become consultants so we can buy mom a 
house and start a foundation for inner city kids to learn lacrosse. Our guilt is eased, we 
pass up the Nadi Light and pick up a Michelob Ultra.  
For the LGBTQ+ community, Duke might actually be a nice change of pace. We can 
spend time at the Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity. We find the community we've 
been missing. Maybe we'll take advantage of CAPS to work through childhood and 

adolescent trauma, and for the first time in our lives we feel heard. We join Mirecourt where 
everyone ​is all over the Kinsey scale. It's great. This is how America should be, how it 
could be if only Trump let trans people in the military.  
Time to intern for Kamala 2020. 
Warning: the degree of disorientation greatly increases with melanin concentrations. Model 
minorities will feel the occasional inadequacy of not being blonde Amazonian women like 
the Thetas, but there are ample cultural groups which Duke encourages us to join to feel 
more at home. Even if home is an all-white town in upstate New York. 
If we are not model minorities, however, well, we should be prepared to be featured on a 
lot of Duke ad campaigns to make us look and feel more represented than we actually are.  
Still, we can always minor in AAAS or take some cultural anthropology classes or join 
cultural groups to remind ourselves that we're not alone. we deserve to be here. Duke 
needs to recognize our magic. CAPS can help you sort the rest out. 
And then, something racist happens. A non-black person uses the N word over snap. 
Someone pencils in a swastika on a bench. Our friend's door is vandalized with slurs. 
Duke releases a statement asserting their disheartenment at the "incident." And that's it. 
Students rally on the Duke Memes page to condemn the perpetrators and the 
administration. Of course, we're hurt, angry, incensed that this place, our ​home f​ or the 
next four years cares so little for our mental and physical health that they would allow white 
supremacy to walk the halls unchecked.  
But that's the way the world works. And the student body is on our side. Things are bad 
now, but they can get better. If only Vincent E. Price was a black woman. That's the 
change we need.  
The solution? Become a successful young POC professional leading the way for other 
POCs to be in positions of power. 
So, if we don't let ourselves get ​too d
​ isoriented, there's always a path for us at Duke. Of 
course, there are exceptions to this vague outline of the 'Duke Experience.' We all have 
different and unique lives, but undoubtedly our cumulative end result is the same: static.  
Some of us might protest at the Allen Building, talk about leaving the country and starting 
an anarchist commune, or simply write angry rants in this disorientation guide. But don't 
be fooled. Duke activism, despite its better intentions, is often superficial because Duke 
really is perfect.  


They keep us perfectly sated and sedated, giving us everything we could ever want. 
Friends, community, adventures, luxury. And then, for many of us, it all falls away as soon 
as we graduate. We're compelled to chase the lifestyle we had here. We'll work an awful 
high-paying job until we get comfortable, and after that, we'll do what we love.  
But then we work, and yeah, its excruciating but we get to summer in Tuscany, and soon 
enough we've got a second home in Maine, so we have to keep working now. And by the 
time we've scored jobs for Genevieve and little Eric at McKinsey, we realize we're tired and 
our life was good and maybe everything works out for the best. Maybe following our heart 
and helping people wasn't the goal after all. Maybe raising a family and raising ourselves 
above everyone we once knew was what we were meant to do all along. Duke chose us, 
after all.  
For those of us who stay angry, we've already been fed enough ego-inflating theory to 
become academics instead of revolutionaries.  
Duke preys, in particular, on those cynical, analytical-types who claim to see the system 
for what it is. Because, after all, we are the most susceptible, aren't we? They tell us we 
are special for seeing truth about reality while subtly reminding us that if everyone were to 
see it, or worse, ​change reality​ we would no longer be special. And so, we come to Duke, 
first to display our superior intellect and then to secure it, remaining elite even amongst the 
rabble of the better-integrated Duke community who are too blind for self-loathing. 



Thriving at Duke 
Resilience Williamson 
Dear Class of 2023,  
Welcome to Duke! During orientation week, you will explore campus and discover the 
Duke Difference. Few people will delve into how to actually thrive at Duke beyond 
academics. As a first generation scholar at Duke, I have had to work overtime and recruit 
allies to overcome the challenges students face. I’m also Black, queer, and here to offer 
some strategies for navigating life and spaces at Duke. When I was a freshman, the 
biggest obstacles I faced dealt financial support, time management, nutrition, and mental 
health. Through those challenges, I learned a lot about myself and what I need to thrive 
here. So far, my journey has motivated me to advocate for myself and to forge the 
W.I.R.E.S. every student needs to navigate life at Duke.  
W—Who are you?  
Being at Duke is like being in your own mini-country. It has its own notions of politics and 
power. I realized what fires me up, frustrates me, and fascinates me just by existing in this 
space. Duke is a social laboratory where you get you to explore and experiment with who 
you are and how you move in this world. In my time at Duke, the most important question 
I’ve been asked is “Who are you?”. I had no clue who I was before Duke. I just knew who 
wasn’t or who I didn’t want to (i.e. Booboo the Fool). It took me four semesters to come 
up with a genuine and authentic answer to that question. For me, figuring out who I was 
meant changing the name that I responded to and owning what I was proudest of which 
was my resilience. Thinking about who you are reveals what spaces you want to be in and 
who you want around you. I found a ​site​ that suggest looking at your V.I.T.A.L.S, which 
stands for values, interests, temperament, around-the-clock-activities, life mission, and 
strengths, to assess who you are and what you need to thrive. Knowing who you are helps 
with fleshing out your purpose. Your purpose is key in mapping your unique pathway at 
Duke as you connect passions and interests to shape your education and future career. 
Although Duke culture is highly comparative, college is not race! We will all get the degrees 
we put in the work for.  
Being at Duke is like being at a four-year long Student Activities Fair. Any given week, 
minus finals week, there is always an engaging event to attend. Every department, every 
organization, every club is hosting events, general body meetings, or discussions 

throughout the semester. So, no matter what you are interested in, you’ll have the chance 
to explore current interests or unearth new ones. Duke provides premium access to art, 
research, and remarkable speakers. Students have numerous opportunities to intern or do 
research. And if the only extracurricular you want is a job, there are even on campus jobs 
that offer work study and non-work study positions. At Duke, I realized that I want to be 
everything from teacher to social worker, poet to lyricist, rapper to comedian, dancer to 
actress, math genius to film director, and the list goes on. As Duke students, we have so 
many dreams to pursue that it’s practically a nightmare because we fall into the trap of 
pursuing them all simultaneously to achieve the infamous notion of “effortless perfection”. 
Many of our peers try to be in every XYZ club to build their resume and stand out like we 
did in high school. However, Duke classes hit differently because the work of learning 
doesn’t end when the class ends. At Duke, you need to mentally devour textbooks, tackle 
problem sets, occupy help rooms, and attend office hours to get the average level of 
understanding for most courses. So, what you dedicate your time outside of class needs 
to matter to you. Pathways should be fueled your personal passions and interests, not 
ones you feel obligated or pressured to have. There is an “I” in interests, so you should 
look to who you are and aspire to be when choosing what to dedicate your time to.  
While we are exploring our identities and chasing our dreams at Duke, we are bound to hit 
roadblocks or get stressed out. During my first two years at Duke, I reached out to many 
resource centers on campus including Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), 
Academic Resources Center (ARC), and Nutritional Services, to work through each crisis. 
Not every center works for every student, but they’re all available for students to use while 
enrolled. If you encounter any issue, you can research centers independently, or look to 
Duke Reach to get connected with other resources. Two overlooked resources are the 
financial health counselors and the Women’s Center. The financial health counselors can 
assist with managing savings and expenses, like providing guidance on building credit or 
paying off loans. The Women’s Center has a primarily Black staff and they also provide 
counseling services along with gender violence prevention training. Overall, when you need 
it or even before you need it, seek help because it’s here and you deserve it.  
Being at Duke is like being thrown into a comic book world because students feel like they 
are surrounded by superheroes with immense talent and intelligence. You may feel the 
same way about peers you see flying through courses and assignments you’re getting 
stuck on. Remember, every superhero has a mask that we can’t see through. And, 
despite the myths, success at Duke is not effortless and requires substantially more effort 

than high school. Most work at Duke takes long hours for one assignment or project. All 
pathways at Duke will take commitment and consistent effort like any good dream would. 
As you explore who you are and your interests, you will come to decide what work is 
worth the effort for you and for your future. As you take classes, you will learn where your 
effort level is and where it needs to go to achieve whatever your dream is. If those levels 
aren’t equal, students have spectacular resources and faculty that can support your 
Being at Duke is like being an entrepreneur with your education serving as your start up 
company. And it’s up to you to develop your vision for that education and what fuels it. 
Similar to a business, you need a Board of Directors to help you manage your academics 
and support your efforts as you pursue your degree. At Duke, your Board of Directors is 
made of professors, deans, and counselors that provide insight and/or advocate for you. 
As you take advantage of resources, your Board will expand and evolve to continue fit your 
needs and help your thrive at Duke.  
Finally, Duke is an overwhelmingly beautiful and stressful place. As Duke students, we 
have access to resources, advocates to guide us, and agency to pursue vast 
opportunities. It's okay if we forget that some days because we have counselors, faculty, 
guardians, and our peers to remind us. Remember, nothing in college is effortless. The 
journey to your Duke degree is about passion, persistence and progress—not perfection. 
Class of 2023, you’ve all committed Duke. Now is the time to start forging your own 
W.I.R.E.S and commit to yourself! 
Resilience Williamson  
Resident Queer Blacktivist 



Here's what I wish I knew before I took out 
$22,500 in student loans 
Frances Beroset 
At the end of my senior year at Duke, I, like many of my peers, completed one of my last 
graduation requirements: mandatory exit loan counseling. 
The loan counselor briefly mentioned the different types of loans and repayment plans, 
pausing to mention that we only escape our loans if we die or become permanently 
disabled. As financial dread set in, and my classmates checked their phones, I wondered: 
how much did any of us really understand when we accepted our first student loan four 
years ago as high school seniors? And do we understand them much better today, as we 
face down the outcome of the decisions we made at age 17? 
If your family income is somewhere above $40,000 a year, but not high enough to pay full 
price—and you didn’t manage to snag one of Duke’s 70-ish full ​merit scholarships​—you 
probably have some student loans. Like ​most Duke undergraduates with family incomes 
over $85,000​ who still qualify for financial aid, I have taken out around $5,000 per year, for 
a total of about $20,000. That's the average for Duke, according to ​Alison Rabil​, ​assistant 
vice provost and director of undergraduate financial aid. $20,000 is close to the maximum 
loan burden Duke will expect undergraduates to take out, and the limit on federal loans for 
undergraduate education is $31,000. However, the average student loan debt per 
borrower in the U.S. is nearly twice my burden at $37,172, meaning that many students 
elsewhere take out private loans in addition to federal loans, which have lower, fixed 
interest rates. I also have no consumer debt. Many of our peer universities, however, offer 
loan-free financial aid​, perhaps due in part to their larger ​endowments​. 
So now I have my Duke degree, and I also have a slowly growing amount of debt! Here 
are three things about student loans I wish I had known four years ago. 
1) Some of my loans began accruing interest the minute I got them​. 
There are three types of loans you might be awarded: Federal Direct loans (the subtypes of 
these are subsidized, unsubsidized, and PLUS), Duke administered loans (this includes 
Perkins and "Duke educational assistance"), or private educational loans. I have a 
combination of the first two types, except they’re all considered federal loans, which is a 
little confusing. Here are my five loans:  

● One Federal Perkins loan from 2016: $5,000 
● Two subsidized Federal Stafford loans, one from 2018 and one from 2019: 
● Two unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, one from 2017 and one from 2019: 
All in all, my debt is $22,500. Except… according to an email from Duke I received in 
February, my debt is higher—$23,188. I originally assumed my loans didn’t start accruing 
interest until like, nine months after graduation? Maybe six months?  
Clearly, I wasn’t paying very close attention when I signed my loan agreement, called a 
“master promissory note,” at the end of my first year of college. As it turns out, those 
grace periods I remembered from my ​entrance ​loan counseling are reprieves from required 
payments, not accruing interest. Only subsidized loans don’t accrue interest during college 
and six months afterwards. That’s what the “subsidized” part means—the government 
pays the interest for you while you’re in school. My $7,000 in ​unsubsidized​ loans have 
accrued around $600 in interest while I've been in college, and will continue to accrue 
more interest even if ​payments​ are deferred during that nine-month post-graduation grace 
period, or if I decide to go to graduate school. I need to pay the accrued $600 of interest 
before my loans go into repayment, because otherwise that will be added to the principal 
of the loan and lead to me paying more interest in the long run. 
2) The public service loan forgiveness program I was planning on using is more precarious 
than it sounds. 
The average interest rate for all my loans is 4.6 percent, which means I’ll accrue a little over 
$1,000 in interest per year—about $3 per day—though over time the amount I accrue per 
year will decrease as I chip away at the original loan balance of $22,500, called the 
A document Duke sent me in February estimates that my monthly payments will be $241 a 
month. Of course, I’ll be making multiple payments because I have multiple student loan 
servicers. By my math, if I pay around $241 a month for ten years, I’ll pay off the loan, but 
also pay around $6,000 in interest. 
I now have a decision to make: burn my savings from college to pay down some of my 
loan debt now, before it begins accruing interest, or keep the money in savings and 
instead enroll in a program which will allow me to make lower payments based on my 


income, and hope that I can successfully have my remaining loans forgiven at the end of 
10 years of working a low-paying public service job. 
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was created in 2007 to wipe away the 
remaining debt for public servants who worked for the government or certain nonprofits for 
at least ten years and made at least 120 on-time student loan payments in that time. The 
first class of students who completed those ten years became eligible to actually apply for 
loan forgiveness in 2017. Relying on the program is more of a gamble than it sounds: 
according to the headline of a NYTimes article from September of last year, “​28,000 Public 
Servants Sought Student Loan Forgiveness. 96 Got It​.” This is in part because many 
received bad information​ from their loan servicers. And the program might be cut entirely in 
the future, depending on how Congress votes. 
If I enroll in an income-based repayment plan but don't end up qualifying for the program, I 
won't pay off my loans for several more years, and I will pay thousands of dollars more in 
interest over the life of the loan. At this point, I'm not sure if it's worth the gamble. 
3) You don’t actually have to accept the loans you’re offered. 
The financial aid website says students are “awarded” loan amounts. These aren’t actually 
awards… they’re debt. And that means that you don’t have to take them on if you can find 
other ways to pay tuition and live. This sounds foolish now, but it never occurred to me 
that I could, and perhaps should, decline the loans I was “awarded.” Especially during my 
senior year, my living expenses were much lower since I live off campus (Duke charges 
about $1,000 in rent for your shared dorm room) and don’t buy a meal plan. I didn’t need 
to take out all the loans that I got. 
It’s easy to get blinded by the prestige of Duke when you first get in—especially with an 
acceptance rate of ​around 5 percent​. I could have gone to a different school and 
graduated without loan debt, and it’s possible that I should have. Ultimately, I picked Duke 
because I thought it would be the best opportunity to learn as much as I could. I don’t 
regret that choice today, but was $22,500 plus interest worth it? Ask me again in ten 
This piece originally appeared in The Chronicle at 


Duke Farm 
Lina Leyhausen 
After one year at Duke, I can proudly say that I haven’t failed anything yet. I did get little too 
close to that during my second semester - as it turns out, I’m not great at managing my 
time well. Almost every week of the entire year looked the same for me: I tried to plan 
things out on Monday, ended up getting stressed and letting too many things pile up to do 
on Thursday, Friday, and the weekend, and then sacrificed food, sleep, and happiness to 
try to get everything done on time. I had the quintessential Duke problem of having too 
many commitments and not enough time for all of them. 
Living like that was not great for my mental wellbeing. It is very hard to think about your 
long-term goals or about why you are happy to be where you are when you are too 
stressed about getting forty math problems done in two hours. Just like everyone else, I 
worked really hard to be at Duke, but I never actually gave myself time to enjoy that once I 
got there. There’s always a new goal – get an A on a test, keep my GPA up, finish a 
project for a class or a club. Simply experiencing life at Duke was never an option. 
One of the best decisions I made during o-week, though, was to go on the Saturday 
faculty outing. I chose to go to Duke farm. I really don’t know what I was expecting that 
day, but I wasn’t expecting to drive fifteen minutes away from Duke into an area that felt 
like it was in the middle of rural North Carolina and visit what is, in my opinion, the most 
peaceful part of campus (even if it isn’t actually on campus). 
I will briefly introduce the Duke farm experience. Visualize, for a moment, a curving road 
flanked with tall trees. You just passed a field full of horses and a sign advertising a 
strawberry farm and now all you can see is woods and occasional houses. You see a huge 
open field and a tall fence on your left – there it is – and you almost miss the driveway but 
find it in time to turn in. 
The gate isn’t locked. You can’t actually see any people, but there is a long white tent right 
by the entrance (you look inside and see bushes of peppers growing). Next to it are rows 
and rows of different plants, neatly labeled and irrigated. You see a few tarps covering 
empty beds of soil and a row of beehives along one fence. You pass a column of colorful 
flowers that would look great in your dorm room. A bit of wandering takes you to the 
middle of the farm, where a small, red-painted pavilion resides, overgrown with leaves and 
what looks like large zucchini. Breathing in and out feels amazing – you are surrounded by 
plants and forest, so the air is really fresh – and you can smell rich soil, cut grass, and 
perhaps harvested vegetables. You finally spot a person, who is pushing a wheelbarrow 

full of plant stalks and leaves. They point you towards a larger pavilion at the back of the 
farm, next to a red shed and a collection of farm tools. 
The farm has community work days twice a week. A typical volunteer session there will 
start with everyone who has come to help standing in a circle and introducing themselves 
– on the Duke farm, everyone is on a first-name basis, and everyone makes an effort to 
pronounce each other’s names correctly – and then tasks a divvied out from at to-do list 
from a white board. People work and chat and get as much done as possible in two 
hours, and anyone who is interested gets a pair of clippers during the last few minutes to 
harvest any vegetables or flowers they want to take with them. 
It’s a very wholesome experience, and it’s one of my favorite things about Duke.  
Self-care is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot at different Duke-sponsored 
events, and it’s something I never felt like I needed to practice. Getting my work done is far 
more important, right? Even the very simple activity of going to the farm to volunteer once 
a week turned into too much of a chore because I often put it in my calendar for Sundays, 
then ended up with too much homework to catch up on, and then didn’t go because I 
was busy or because my friends did not have time to come. Even when I did go to the 
farm, which was often during the first semester and less so during the second, I felt like I 
was wasting time because I could have been working on an essay or a problem set. I’m a 
Pratt star, after all – I should be focusing on the things relevant to my major. 
What I realized after some time, though, is that I have to unlearn the mentality that 
everything I do should be something I can put on a resume. Visiting the Duke farm, taking 
a break, or even drinking a cup of tea is not going to help me get a degree in engineering. 
It is, however, going to keep me sane and functional while I do that. Feeling guilty about 
visiting the farm or not visiting the farm when I meant to isn’t productive either – I’m 
working on turning it into a stress-free experience. Being in college takes a lot out of you 
(notice that I have barely mentioned all of the time and effort that goes into participating in 
extracurriculars and having a social life). Doing something just for yourself once in a while 
isn’t going to hurt you.  
I also need to learn to forgive myself for my bad decisions. If I procrastinate a problem set 
for two hours, logic dictates that I should cut the two hours I dedicated to visiting the farm 
out of my schedule to finish that problem set. Logic can be stupid, though, and doesn’t 
provide for the fact that even if I don’t visit the farm, I will probably procrastinate again for 
another two hours later. Those are two hours that could have been spent outside, 
harvesting sweet potatoes, picking some zinnias for my dorm room, and generally 
recharging my emotional capacity to handle life at Duke.  


So please, let me tempt you into one of the cardinal sins of college life – taking a break. 
I’m not saying you should visit Duke farm to do this (though you totally should). For me, the 
farm represents a place where I can simply exist in the moment. I go there, I feel better, I 
get to spend time taking a new perspective on things (many of my first semester essay 
topics were developed while harvesting peppers), and I just enjoy being outside for a while. 
I recommend finding the place at Duke that does that for you – the place where you can 
go to simply not worry about things (though this should not be Shooters). College throws a 
lot at you, so find a place where you can breathe, take a break, and temporarily remove 
yourself from the situation. Don’t worry – those problem sets will be waiting for you when 
you get back. 


On unruly bodies and how to cope with 
being in-between 
Alizeh Sheikh 
“Orient/Occident, archaic/modern, rural/urban, 
fundamentalism/enlightenment, Islam/Europe, past/future. By embodying 
the unstable relationship between these supposed opposites, racialized 
Europeans occupy a heterotopic space: in the present but at odds with what 
is considered possible. Their lived reality produces narratives that can only 
be heterotopic in their focus, not on gaining a legitimate place within the 
national space/time, but on showing its artificiality and on negotiating various 
spaces at the same time.” 
—Fatima El-Tayeb, queer diaspora studies scholar, UC San Diego 
I started feeling out the contours of my own heterotopia at age 13, when I began grappling 
with my sexuality. The imperative question at the time was “Why am I the way I am?”, an 
inquiry that I saw as a kind of summit whose apex signaled my own growth and 
self-actualization. I believed that the end of my confusion was contingent on answering this 
question in some tangible way, preferably with an answer that was concise in the way that 
feels final. By answering it I could be an adult; by answering it I could move on from myself 
to the larger world. 
But I found myself caught up in descriptors, with the names I’d rotate between never 
sticking and always lacking the explanatory power that I sought. Gay? No. Bisexual? 
Maybe. Queer? And what about gender identity and/or expression? Woman but butch? 
No. Woman but femme? No. Woman but neither? Or, perhaps, woman who’s too scared 
to figure out what the hell is going on?  
I’ve spent six or seven years unsuccessfully attempting to answer these questions, and 
I’ve begun to settle on the possibility that perhaps my whole set-up, from the get-go, was 
and has been flawed. I’d presumed that questioning was part of the process of growing 
up, a means to the adult-like stability I desired, and my maturity would be indicated by my 
finding the right self-descriptor. But I never found that right namesake, the kind that fits like 
a second skin. The better question was, and is: Can this confusion, this questioning, ever 
end? Or does its purpose go beyond being a mere rung on a ladder to something secure, 
settled and thereby better? 


As a brown, queer, Muslim American woman, I live in an external state of contradiction 
that I consider to be part and parcel with my inability to find a stable gender identity and 
sexuality to map onto my own body. I’ll play chicken-or-the-egg games with myself: Is my 
inability to make sense of my own body borne out of my living at the intersection of a 
supposedly dichotomous East/West? Or, is my inability to own and proudly represent any 
sort of coherent, self-contained immigrant identity a result of my failure to make sense of 
something so fundamental as my own, living, breathing human body? 
I spent last summer doing research on immigrant identity, and I met a middle-aged 
American man who argued that it was the children of immigrants, not immigrants 
themselves, who are deviant and dangerous. “They have cognitive dissonance,” he said, 
because they are caught between two countries, unable to confer allegiance to one or the 
other. I initially deemed the comment prejudiced and preemptively discarded it. But a few 
weeks later I met an immigrant father who asserted that although first-generation identity is 
spread thin between the United States and the places our parents (and our parents’ 
parents) called home, immigrants’ kids’ struggles with identity merit greater empathy, not 
derision. And I’m that moment, something I’d never expected to come full circle suddenly 
did so. It was like flipping between the two faces of a coin passed between palms, a truth 
revealed in the fleeting transition between two states. I’ve at times wondered whether I’ve 
fulfilled the foreboding of cognitive dissonance, and whether that makes me deviant or 
“I think after a certain amount of lived time—not being recognized, or, 
floating in between periods of recognition, makes maintaining a consistent 
body hard … Edge-walking (in an identity way) produces porous bodies 
partly because some residue of the imprint made by how others see you, no 
matter how “off” it might be, also sticks, begins to inform your actions, your 
sense of self.” 
—Jess Arndt, author of short story collection “Large Animals” 
Much of my attempts at figuring myself out have involved trying to parse between the 
internal and the external, an effort I now realize is trivial. I just can’t tell the difference 
between the two. And Judith Butler would say that that’s the point, that trying to do so is 
completely futile, that body and identity is society. “What’s me?” and “What’s affected 
me?” are easy to ask but difficult to answer, because oftentimes they are one and the 
same. Different influences overlap in a way that makes it impossible for me to make sense 
of myself and my body, to figure out what, if anything at all, can be salvaged under the 
weight of those external forces. Would I still be queer if I were born and raised in my 
parents’ country? If I were more religious? If I were blonde and white and American would I 

still be queer? Would I still be me? If I grew out my moustache and body hair would I still 
recognize myself in the mirror? Would I like what I’d see?  
My attempts to make sense of my body have been obscured and complicated by my living 
between supposed opposites. I cannot tell the difference among external influences, let 
alone between them and the idealized, unadulterated me that I’ve perpetually sought out. I 
fear the consequences of growing out my body hair and moustache not merely because it 
will challenge my self-conception of womanhood, one that hangs more on the thin thread 
of convention than any sort of internal consensus, but also because it will embody the 
unique shame of being a hairy brown body in a Western world. Body hair on brown bodies 
is not only unwomanly, but it is uncouth, uncultured, dirty and barbarian in a way that has 
been racialized and colonialized. And even if I can semantically differ between these forces, 
my fear feels like a homogenization of them all, a general pulse that traces back to 
nowhere in particular. As Roxane Gay has written, the shame of an unruly, undisciplined 
body can feel so visceral that it seems to come from within.  
“The world [I’m working toward] would be one where each of us moves from 
a place that recognizes radical relationality — the ways in which our fates are 
deeply intertwined with all other things, all other beings, human and 
nonhuman, around us … What would it mean to live your life knowing that 
your life is radically bound up, intimately bound up, with those who seem so 
distant from you? I think you’d have to move in a really different way, make 
really different decisions in your life.” 
—Gayatri Gopinath, queer diaspora scholar, New York University 
Dichotomies and categories are the organizing principles we use to make sense of 
ourselves, to identify ourselves and to recognize our allegiances. But, if as Fatima El-Tayeb 
suggests, my embodying supposed opposites reveals the artificiality of their distinction, 
then I must lack a vocabulary by which to definitively and absolutely identify myself. I am 
neither East nor West, immigrant nor American, masculine nor feminine. I am somewhere 
in-between, but “in-between” is a flimsy descriptor (to say nothing of its inability to explain) 
because it doesn’t describe me as I am. it describes me in relation to others, in relation to 
some artificially imposed binary. And “queer” isn’t much more helpful, either, because it 
describes a subject relationally to the norm, outside of it or as some funhouse mirror 
version of it.  
If searching for the clear-cut stability of categorization is futile, then how am I to make 
sense of myself? What language is there available to me, and what, if anything, can I hold 
on to? Will new linguistic possibilities arise? Or, is it even necessary for me to find that kind 
of stability? Is a a life of fluidity, of self mixed with everything else, one that is feasible? The 

thought of an identity that must be considered relationally—in order to be considered at 
all—terrifies me. An independent identity is an impossibility that I crave but must cope 
without. Networks of race, gender, colonialism, immigration, sexuality — everything — are 
too expansive to ever comprehend, and myself as a relation would be situated as a knot at 
their intersection. It’s possible that I’d end up being incomprehensible, too. The 
questioning becomes no longer a stepping stone to some greater, larger resolution, but 
the answer itself. The idea feels radical enough to be inconceivable, but the desire for 
some schema, some sense of self-understanding, is enough to carry me away. 



Duke Students for Justice in Palestine 
Ever wondered what it would be like to explore the sacred land of your 
ancestors, where you can bask in the beauty of the very olive trees 
your grandparents farmed, visit the sacred holy sights of your culture, 
and be weightless, floating in the Dead Sea? 
Lucky for you, if you’re a Duke student who happens to be between 
the ages of 18 and 26 and of Jewish descent, this could be your 
reality—an all-expenses paid trip to Israel through Duke "Birthright."  
**offer not available to students who are Palestinian refugees**  
Unfortunately, if you’re a Palestinian living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip 
today, none of these amenities are available to you either. 
What you do have, however, is an apartheid wall and 
strict checkpoints manned by heavily armed Israeli 
soldiers which restrict your day-to-day movement, 
the constant worry of illegal land seizures by the 
Israeli government for the erection of more colonial 
settlements, a severe lack of basic resources 
(particularly in Gaza where 97% of your water is 
contaminated!), and a better-than-average chance of 
being incarcerated, maimed, and/or killed. 


In continuing practices such as the “birthright” trips to Israel and the Jewish Agency Israel 
Fellowship, which brings former members of the Israeli military to campus for two years at 
a time, Duke is brazenly displaying support for the ongoing occupation-induced genocide 
of the Palestinian people by encouraging cultural and academic exchanges with an 
apartheid regime. 
Duke students for Justice in Palestine is an organization committed to ending the 
oppression of the Palestinian people first and foremost by educating Duke students and 
the Durham community about the grave atrocities daily done unto the Palestinians in 
hopes of galvanizing Duke’s immensely powerful social capital to make a point that 
marginalization—of any kind—will not be tolerated by the university, its students, alumni, 
and the community at large. In the spring of 2019, Duke SJP participated in international 
Israeli Apartheid week, hosting daily events to educate and activate Duke's campus. This 
included the erection of a miniature replica of Israeli's 25-foot high, concrete apartheid wall 
which currently divides the West Bank into bantustans.  
Duke SJP is also advocating for a cultural, academic, and fiscal boycott of and divestment 
from the state of Israel, to ensure that the vast resources and power of Duke, its faculty, 
and student body are not harnessed in support of settler-colonialism or the subjugation of 
the Palestinian people.  

SJP stands in solidarity with all marginalized groups affected by systemic injustices such 
as imperialism, white supremacy, the patriarchy, capitalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, 
and myriad other forms of discrimination as we firmly believe that all struggles for liberation 
are intertwined. From Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons to Latinx held in 
concentration camps at the U.S.-Mexico border, from the murders of unarmed protestors 
in Gaza to the slayings of unarmed black men across the United States, and from the 
mass incarceration of the Palestinians to that of black and brown Americans, we stand 

together so that, one day, we may rise. But we are also united in our differences as we 
choose to respect and cherish all, even when the powers that be tell us to do otherwise.  
Already Duke’s SJP has found 
intersectional success through our work, 
alongside various aligned Durham 
community groups as part of the Durham 
2 Palestine campaign, which passed 
landmark legislation through the Durham 
city council expressly ending Durham’s 
practice of training police officers 
alongside the Israeli military. This action 
helped to begin the demilitarization of 
Durham police, ensuring that Israel's racial 
profiling and torture tactics will not be 
used on our black and brown community members.  
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom 
of the Palestinians.” 




Disability and accessibility 
Duke Disability Alliance 

Accessibility and Campus Culture: 
Duke, despite its claims to be all-accepting and accommodating, is nowhere near as 
inclusive and accessible as it can be, even though it has every ability to make it so. The 
truth is that Duke often favors “aesthetics” and “convenience” over true accessibility. This 
means that students must go through a months-long process to request accommodations 
from the Student Disability Access Office (SDAO), accessible entrances to buildings are 
not well marked and are hidden far from main entrances, and some areas of campus are 
entirely inaccessible. Multiple floors of many buildings are inaccessible, while the 
Languages Building is entirely inaccessible. The majority of bathrooms on campus are 
inaccessible due to lack of automatic door openers. The campus also includes some 
seemingly unexplainable half-hearted attempts at accessibility, like automatically-opening 
doors leading only to a stairwell (West Union) or to inaccessible doors (LSRC). If students 
require accommodations or services from SDAO, they will find it to be understaffed and in 
itself, relatively inaccessible due to it being located in Central Campus rather than West 
Campus or East Campus.  
Duke student campus culture oozes with perfectionism and this only makes it harder to 
speak about disability issues.​ It's important to remember that not all disabilities are visible 
and just because an issue is not talked about that often, it does not mean it's not there.​  
This is what DDA hopes to address in this coming school year: raise awareness and create 
more dialogue on campus so Duke becomes less ableist and more inclusive. ​Here is what 
some students had to say about the campus culture at Duke in a 2018 DDA accessibility 
“The competitive nature of Duke often obscures students from understanding or 
empathizing with the troubles and limitations placed on others.” 
“The campus culture is superficial. Everyone tries to act like they are ok.” 
“Duke is not conducive to positive and healthy wellbeing.” 
“It’s competitive. It makes me feel like a failure and decreases my willingness to try.” 
“It is disastrous to my mental health.” 
To learn more about disability and accessibility on campus, please visit DDA’s website and 
view our activism goals at ​https://sites.duke.edu/disabilityatduke/dda/ 



Duke Disability Alliance (DDA): 
DDA's mission is to make Duke more inclusive and accessible by fostering conversations 
about disability issues, expanding accessibility on campus and in the community, 
encouraging positive perceptions and full appreciation of people with disabilities, and 
promoting their legal rights. We strive to engage the entire Duke community to make Duke 
a better place for those with and without disabilities.  
Over the past two years, awareness on disability issues has increased significantly. From 
gaining greater recognition and representation in Duke Student Government to beginning 
to establish a dedicated campus center for individuals with disabilities, DDA has come a 
long way in helping create a more accessible and inclusive Duke.​ But there is still a lot of 
work to be done. 
To learn more about or join DDA, please email the DDA exec at 


An outline of statements and questions 
concerning DukeEngage
Alex Chao and Catherine McMillan  
DukeEngage has a relatively significant presence within Duke; they proudly state that it is 
the “​leading reason that high schoolers cite for why they are applying to Duke​.” With over 
400 participants each year, around ​20 percent of each graduating class​ will have 
participated in DukeEngage. Duke paints a pretty picture of its intelligent students 
venturing out to make small impacts that aggregate to a net good that Duke is putting out 
into the world, but this is clearly not the case. It is impossible to completely dissect and 
analyze such a program in one piece. However, this outline is meant to begin to 
contextualize DukeEngage and consider some critical questions as you begin to 
contemplate what to do this upcoming summer.  
How DukeEngage Began 
DukeEngage was created largely as a result of the ​men’s lacrosse scandal​. 
Three men on the lacrosse team were falsely accused of rape, causing nationwide 
contention. To pivot the media and incoming applicants away from the negative 
coverage, Duke launched a campaign to market certain values, among them civic 
engagement and service-oriented programming. Thirty million dollars split evenly 
between the Gates Foundation and the Duke Endowment spurred the DukeEngage 
program, an initiative intended to allure students on all-expense-paid programs 
across the country and the world.  
DukeEngage Training  
DukeEngage Academy is the ​largest university based civic engagement training program​ in 
the US. 
It’s comprised of two days filled with small group discussions, activities, and 
lectures from Duke staff, faculty, and nonprofit personnel. The goal is to prepare 
students for potential problems that may arise on programs and inform participants 
on proper protocol for how to engage with different communities and cultures.  

But is two days really enough time? 
Given the condensed time-frame, training content is jam-packed into only two days, 
making the takeaways of the program surface level or incomplete. Additionally, 
there is no way of enforcing attentiveness or evaluating what students actually learn 
from the training.  
Admin has discussed the possibility of changing training from a two-day academy 
to a semester-long house course. However, the Assistant Director for training and 
student development noted they might not be feasible given busy student 
schedules. Engineers, student athletes and ROTC members ​would all be ineligible 
due to their full course load, they explained. 
What percentage of DukeEngage participants actually comes from this demographic? If 
not in a house course, how can DukeEngage better prepare students for cultural 
immersion and civic conscientiousness? 
Domestic vs. International 
The 2017 strategic plan for DukeEngage aimed for 35% of participants serving 
domestically, which was achieved. Eric Mlyn, previous director of DukeEngage stated that 
“We feel we have an ethical obligation to be more involved in the United States,” he said, 
[however, he added] that DukeEngage ​is not planning​ to further increase that percentage. 
What does this mean? Mlyn acknowledges the fact that being involved in the United 
States is important, yet he says that DukeEngage isn’t interested in having much 
more than ⅓ of participants be domestic. Domestic programs are easier to manage 
and are less prone to attracting savior complexes. Or, in other words, a colonialist 
mindset, stemming from power and privilege, that attempts to “save” or “civilize” 
existing communities, all the while being an outsider. What does it say about 
DukeEngage that they’re content with keeping the ratio ⅔ international? 
The Durham program was extended to a split program between Durham, NC and Durham, 
UK in 2013 after a period of disinterest.   
While this is just one example, what does this say about the values and aspirations 
of DukeEngage itself? Why divide a student’s ability to make an impact at both 
organizations by ​catering to the appeal of international travel​? Admin have 
acknowledged the fact that the short length of DukeEngage is a hindering factor in 
making a meaningful impact on a community. Yet they were quick and willing to 
further shorten a program, splitting the time to make it more appealing.  


Is DukeEngage really about civic service?  
Duke doesn’t try to hide the fact that DukeEngage is student-oriented.  
Reflections and required surveys consist of questions such as “How were you 
challenged?” or “What did you learn?” rather than “How did you affect the 
community around you?” There seems to be little critical conversation about the 
impact, positive or negative, that DukeEngage has left on the community. Even the 
motto supports oneself: Challenge​ yourself, c
​ hange​ your ​world.  
What does it mean when Duke puts the concerns of the community as a second concern?  
DukeEngage only sets up projects in areas where the community partners and Duke have 
a mutual agreement.  
What voices are silenced through this mutual agreement? A community partner 
might be a branch of an international nonprofit. Programs can be refreshed year 
after year with no consent from the members of the community being exploited for 
learning purposes. What about projects that have been cancelled after one year? 
Duke can simply pull out and move on with no consequences while the impact has 
already been done.  
The future of DukeEngage 
There have been ​several changes in DukeEngage leadership and management​ this past 
academic year. 
Charlie Piot, professor of African and African American Studies and Cultural 
Anthropology, succeeded Eric Mlyn as the second executive director of 
DukeEngage. Also, DukeEngage has been institutionally absorbed by the Kenan 
Institute for Ethics. With his experience in launching and running a DukeEngage 
program, Piot may steer DukeEngage in a different direction, but it is unclear what 
power dynamics are in play and how much control Piot actually has over the 
Some takeaways from recent DukeEngage participants 
Alex, Durham Durham 2019 
I generally had negative experiences during my DukeEngage. There were many lapses in 
communication and organization, and it felt pretty unfulfilling. To prevent specific negative 
clutter, I’ll fill this space with other thoughts. If you are considering the Durham Durham 


program though, I would be more than happy to be a resource and share more in depth 
experiences—just reach out to me through email.  
At the end of the day, Duke’s main goal is money, and DukeEngage provides an avenue 
for that, both by bringing in new students and giving current students an experience 
worthwhile enough to generate alumni donations. While Duke’s purpose of DukeEngage is 
student-oriented, by approaching it with a community-oriented perspective, it is still 
possible to have a transformative and personally fulfilling DukeEngage experience. 
Choosing the right program can provide a truly unique learning opportunity. International 
programs generally revolve around a certain task such as planting trees, teaching, building 
bridges, while domestic and independent programs pair students with nonprofits. Reach 
out to students who have done the program in the past. Research the program directors 
since they can really make or break an experience. Most importantly, remember to 
continually and carefully consider the consequences surrounding how your identity and 
placement interact. Stay conscious and stay critical.  
Catherine, Boston 2019 
Overall, I thought it was a good experience. And I attribute that largely to the stellar 
leadership of my program director. 
He began our group discussions with three key checkpoints: 
● Operational​: the day-to-day logistics and concerns 
● Experiential​: how our internships were going and establishing consensus when 
planning excursions as a program 
● Aspirational:​ asking ourselves important questions on how to do the inner work to 
be more conscientious and what changes we want to bring back to Duke 
While this just happened to be the structure of our Wednesday meetings, I believe that any 
DukeEngage program can have more structure and meaning by using this model. This 
three-pronged approach to our gatherings ensured that we, as a community, knew the 
expectations and goals of our program.  
If not a program to make legitimate change in the world, at the very least DukeEngage 
should be an experience that encourages and enables critically cognizant students to 
arrive on campus with more humility, integrity, and above all, a deepened understanding of 
how to engage with other communities as an outsider. 


History of hate and bias incidents at Duke 
Shania Khoo 
NOTE​: ​This is by no means is this a complete timeline. And this is also an overwhelming 
timeline. Institutional memory, the collective set of facts, experiences, and knowledge held 
by a group of people, feels so extremely short at Duke University. How Duke conveys our 
own history - how we remember certain people and events, as well as how we fail to 
remember others - influences the way generations of students, staff, and faculty position 
and identify themselves. I set out to curate this timeline to both remind us of Duke’s ​recent 
history with hate and bias against people of color, women, LGBTQIA+ folx, and so many 
other people and celebrate those who came before us who have worked tirelessly to 
change the status quo. 
hate and bias incidents at Duke  
student advocacy and activism related to Duke (particularly pushing 
student advocacy and activism “unrelated” to Duke 
1960s: ​The Duke University Security Division, the precursor to the Duke University Police 
Department, ​arrested at least 64 gay men for the crime of “homosexuality” in the 1960s​, 
forever changing their lives and disrupting their education. 
1961 - 1968​:​ ​Soon after Duke University admitted its first black graduate students in 
September 1961 (the undergraduate schools would be integrated the following year), ​a 
few students organized the Students for Liberal Action​. Its concerns included academic 
freedom and racial integration as well as what would become a galvanizing issue on 
campus: Duke's treatment of its largely black contingent of nonacademic employees. 
November 13, 1967​: ​Allen Building Study-In​ - African American Students staged a sit-in 
in front of President Knight's office to protest the use of segregated facilities by student 
groups. The Student-Faculty Administration Committee had been holding a meeting to 
discuss a policy regarding the use of segregated facilities, and later in the week student 
groups were no longer permitted to use segregated facilities for their events. 
February 5, 1968​: ​Students protested the affiliation of Duke University with the Dow 
Chemical Company​, who produced napalm which was used in the Vietnam War. Dow had 


been on campus that day to recruit employees, and refused to answer questions 
regarding the production of napalm to be used in Vietnam. 
April 4-12, 1968​: ​Over 2,000 Duke students, workers, faculty and members of the 
Durham community participated in a ​Silent Vigil to commemorate Dr. King, and 
subsequently held a march to the home of Duke’s president, the Hart House​.  

1. President Knight sign a newspaper ad calling for a day of mourning and that 
Durham residents work towards ensuring racial equality 
2. President Knight resign from his membership at Hope Valley Country Club, a 
segregated country club 
3. Duke establish a $1.60 minimum wage for non-academic workers 
4. The acceptance of collective bargaining for non-academic workers 


After 8 days of long negotiations where protesters camped in President Knight’s 
home, marched, survived tear gas and constantly countered critiques mainly fueled 
by respectability politics, the administration agreed to gradually phase in increases 
in wages, and appoint two committees (task forces) to “study the university’s 
relationship with its non-academic employees” 


Photos: ​https://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeyearlook/4460769504/in/photostream/  


Wikipedia Page: 

February 13, 1969​: ​The Allen Building Takeover​: Approximately 60 Duke students 
occupied the first floor of the Allen Building February 13, 1969, to protest the University’s 
failure to meet the needs of black students. Their ​demands​ included the creation of a 
Department of “Afro-American” Studies, increased enrollment and financial support for 
black students and a black student union. Protesters remained in the building until after 
5:00 p.m, when their exit ignited a clash on the main quad in front of Perkins Library 
between students gathered outside and police. 

Photos: ​https://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeyearlook/4460743420/in/photostream/  

May 1969​:​ ​Anti-war protestors marched from an SLF rally on the Chapel steps to Wade 
Stadium yesterday to emphasize their demand that the administration consider before 
October 1, 1969 the removal of ROTC from the Duke campus. 



Carrying signs of "Bring the Troops Home Now" and "End Militarism" the marchers 
were greeted with obscenities and cries of "kill hippies" from a hostile crowd already 
stationed at the stadium...The war protestors were threatened with shouts of 
"Lizards get the hell out" and "Let's move the bunch of asses." 

May 1970​: ​Lots of protests, strikes, boycotts, and sit-ins​; overall nearly 1000 students 
engage in anti-war activities, protesting the escalation of war in Cambodia and Indochina.  

Students had demands to end ROTC, AROD, and all research at Duke. 


​Photo from protest  

1974​: ​Duke President Terry Sanford denied the request of the Duke Gay Alliance to add 
sexual orientation to the University non-discrimination policy​. It would be fourteen long 
years before the policy was changed​. 
November 1975​: ​In 1975, the Association of African Students presented a similar list of 
demands as in 1969.  

The Chronicle​ reported that the group quietly gathered outside the Allen Building, 
and the president of the association, Clemon Richardson, handed out copies of the 
demands to students.The demands included departmentalizing the Black Studies 
Program and increasing the number of black faculty.  


The students entered the Allen Building and walked up to the second floor, where 
they presented their list of grievances to several administrators. A line of more than 
100 students formed behind Richardson, watched quietly and then silently walked 
out again.  

November 1979​: ​The Black Student Alliance held a march and rally during Black 
Solidarity Week to “awaken the University community to black-related problems and 
needs,” according to ​The Chronicle​.  

Approximately 250 African-American and white students marched from East to 
West Campus, singing songs such as “We Shall Overcome” and “Lift Every Voice 
and Sing.” 


They rallied with 400-500 individuals to protest the acquittals of the six Klansman 
who ​killed​ a Duke employee and four former Duke Students—all of whom were 
powerful local activists and Communist Workers Party Supporters. 

August 1981​:​ ​In July 1981, Terry Sanford initiated negotiations with former U. S. President 
Richard Nixon (Duke Law '37) to locate the Nixon presidential library on the campus of 

Duke University, Nixon's alma mater. When this information was revealed to faculty 
members during the week of August 10, 1981, ​many opposed the proposition, citing 
Sanford's failure to consult the faculty prior to initiating negotiations. 
1983​: ​Eleven years after the first queer student group was established, the Student 
Government Association revoked its charter. There was a fear that the group might 
“promote homosexuality” which was still against state law.  
May 1985​:​ 60 graduating seniors organized a ​silent vigil​ outside the Duke Chapel during 
baccalaureate ceremonies to encourage Duke to divest from South Africa due to 

Six demonstrators were ​arrested.  


One year later, the Board of Trustees set a deadline to ​withdraw​ all investments 
from South Africa if apartheid practices continued. 

November 19, 1987​:​ ​Students marched in the “Take Back the Night” rally for gender 
justice.​ The march was sponsored by the Coalition for a Women's Center at Duke. Both 
women and men marched from the Bryan Center Walkway to the Ark on East Campus. 
April 1989​: ​A ​march​ was held on National Black Student Action day, this time with 
students marching from East to West Campus. The march ended in front of the Allen 
Building, where BSA President and then-junior Craig McKinney presented a list of goals to 
Provost Phillip Griffiths. 

The march, one of 40 to 80 taking place at colleges around the country, was an 
attempt to accelerate and intensify University action on a list of nine concerns 
compiled by the Black Student Association.  


Their concerns echoed those of previous years, such as increased 
African-American student recruitment, expansion of the African-American Studies 
program and a Division of Minority Affairs. 

November 1991​: ​Days before the anniversary of the Kristallnacht, or the "Night of Broken 
Glass, a ​full page ad​ appeared in the Duke Chronicle that claimed the Holocaust was a 
April 1997​: ​Campus police handcuffed and frisked black student, Calvin Harding​, 
mistakenly thinking he was the thief of a recently stolen laptop. 
September 1997​:​ Students boycotted class as a part of a “speak-out devoted to 
confronting strained campus race relations,” ​The Chronicle​ reported. Students set up a 

podium on the chapel steps for an “open-microphone” forum about race on campus. Two 
hours into what was deemed “Race Day,” a long line of students continued to form, 
waiting for their turn to speak to a crowd whose maximum size reached 500 people. 
Fall 1998​: ​A group called Students Against Sweatshops persuaded the university to 
require manufacturers of items with the Duke label to sign a pledge that they would not 
use sweatshop labor. Duke has 700 licensees (including Nike and other major labels) that 
make apparel at hundreds of plants in the U.S. and in more than 10 other countries, 
generating almost $25 million annually in sales.  

Following months of negotiations, in March 1998 Duke President Nannerl Keohane 
and the student activists jointly announced a detailed "code of conduct" that bars 
Duke licensees from using child labor, requires them to maintain safe workplaces, 
to pay the minimum wage, to recognize the right of workers to unionize, to disclose 
the locations of all factories making products with Duke's name, and to allow visits 
by independent monitors to inspect the factories. 


Duke students published a coloring book explaining how (and where) the campus 
mascot, the Blue Devil, is stitched onto clothing by workers in sweatshops. 


The Duke victory quickly inspired students on other campuses, including Yale, UC 
Santa Barbara, Georgetown, and University of Wisconsin.  



Feb 1999​: ​Duke students stage a 31 hour sit-in in the president’s office to insure that 
campus apparel doesn’t come from sweatshops​. Duke University agreed to push for a 
tougher code of conduct for clothing manufacturers that produce merchandise bearing the 
university's name. 
March 2001​: ​About 140 students, many weeping, joined a silent procession​ to the Duke 
president's office Thursday morning to present 261 individually-signed petitions asking the 
university to issue a progress report on earlier minority student demands and to formally 
protest an advertisement in the March 19 Chronicle about "Ten Reasons Why Reparations 
for Slavery is a Bad Idea and Racist Too." 

They demonstrated outside President Nan Keohane’s office​ demanding that The 
Chronicle, their campus newspaper, provide a full-page of ad space for students to 
respond to Horowitz’s attack and that they forfeit the $793.80 fee they received 
from Horowitz. 


April 8, 2002​: ​Asian American Studies Teach-In: Students Christina Hsu ‘03, Nancy Lee 
‘04, Stephanie Liu ‘05, Dipta Basu ‘03, and Namita Koppa ‘03 form the Asian American 
Studies Undergraduate Working Group, a multiracial coalition with student and faculty 
supporters. BSA, the Freeman Center, and Diya all wrote letters of support to the 
administration. They were inspired by recent hate incidents on campus, identifying an 
ignorance of Asian American issues as the root cause. This could be alleviated by an AAS 
program. The organizers of the teach-in are members of Visiting Professor Seung Hye 
Suh’s “Asian American Literature and Culture” class and members of AASUWG. Around 
100 people attend. 



2002 Documents 


'Organizers of Duke Teach-in Seek New Asian-American Studies Program'​ — The 
Chronicle, Kira Rosoff 

April 8, 2002​: ​Proposal submitted for AAS at Duke, written by students Christina Hsu and 
Tony Kwon, argues the importance of AAS, lays out a timetable, and is signed by more 
than 1,000 students. 

‘​Students submit Asian American studies proposal​’ — ​The Chronicle, James 


‘​Asian American studies would enhance University​’ — ​The Chronicle, AASWG 

September 2003​:​ ​Sigma Chi throws a "Viva Mexico" party​; The party - which included 
invitations in the form of expired green cards and a "border control" at the door - was 
derogatory towards Mexicans and Latinos, and as a continuing example of how Latinos 
are marginalized on campus and beyond.  
September 2003​: ​Alpha Tao Omega fraternity president Kyle Jasey said questions were 
raised about his fraternity's upcoming "Ghetto Fabulous" party, and wanted to know 
whether the party's name or content could come off as potentially offensive. Jasey said 
the party will have a freestyle contest, hip-hop music and clothing imitating "the 1980's rap 
scene," such as clock necklaces and gold chains.  

referenced : 


October 2004​: ​Philip Kurian published an anti-Semitic article entitled ​"The Jews"​ that 
scrutinized the social place of Jewish Americans.  
2005 - 2007​: ​Stephen Miller—current senior policy adviser to President 
Trump—infamously ​wrote a slew of racist, sexist, and generally xenophobic column​s​ for 
the Duke Chronicle.  
September 2007​: ​Duke students joined the process of doing something about the racial 
controversy that shook the small town of Jena, LA​. A coalition consisting of members of 
the Black Student Alliance, the Center for Race Relations, Duke's chapter of the American 
Civil Liberties Union, Duke Democrats, Duke Student Government, Duke's chapter of the 
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National 
Pan-Hellenic Council spread awareness of the situation in Jena. Dressed in black T-shirts 
in support of the convicted students, the tablers handed out fliers and asked passersby to 
sign a banner and petition. 
March 2006​: ​A party held by members of the Duke lacrosse team resulted in the 
indictments of three of the team’s players who were alleged to have beaten, strangled, 
and raped an exotic dancer whom they hired who was a student from North Carolina 
Central University. Allegations of first-degree rape, sexual assault, and accounts of racial 

shut down a lot of advocacy and activism because people got scared because it 
would always come back to lacrosse 

February 2009​:​ ​Giles bench was spray-painted with the letters F and A before their 
bench's phrase, "G-Spot,” forming a homophobic epithet​. 

The bench was also plastered with fliers countering the vandalism, highlighting the 
phrase "We Don't Tolerate Hate," surrounded by point words such as "bigotry," 
"ignorance" and "offensive." 

April 2009​:​ ​A swastika was found painted on the northeast side of Baldwin Auditorium.  

The swastika is one of several acts of vandalism on East in recent months. In 
February, the letters F and an A were spray-painted before the term "G-Spot" to 
form a homophobic slur on the bench of Giles Residence Hall. In the same 
dormitory, several swastikas were found written on white boards in October. 

April 2010​: ​Justin Robinette was forced to give up his position as the chair of the Duke 
College Republicans because he was ousted as gay​.  



Apr​il 2010: Duke Student Government Judiciary, in a 3-to-1 decision, ruled 
Tuesday morning that the Duke College Republicans did not discriminate against 
junior Justin Robinette in ​impeaching him​ from the position of chairman last week. 

January 2010​:​ ​Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity used their organization’s social listserv​ to invite a 
group of Duke women to a party titled “Culture Shock”: “Thinking we should make that 
fence down south a little taller?” the message asked. “Pissed about a certain group of 
easterners f—ing up the curve in Econ 51?... Well it’s time to get over your fears and join 
the brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha for a truly unique tour of the world.” 
May 2010​:​ ​Anti-gay graffiti on East Campus bridge re-ignites DCR controversy 

The graffiti was directed at former College Republicans Chair Justin Robinette, a 
rising senior, who claimed in April he was impeached from his position because he 
is gay. 


The East Campus Bridge graffiti appeared to read “Lying F—g Robinet,” “DCR = 
Righteous” and “Get AIDS in Hell.” 

September 2010​: ​Justin Robinette files a second suit​, including a 50-page packet of 
emails, comments, and other pieces of evidence.  

This packet of hateful materials proves that members of the College Republicans 
used their e-mail listserv to engage in conversations that were not only offensive to 
homosexuals but also racially insensitive and anti-Semitic. 


They include extremely derogatory references to Jews, African-Americans, 
gay people and the LGBT Center. The e-mails include links to pornography 
and contain explicit sexual statements—which can only be described as 
deliberately derogatory. 

DCR was put on disciplinary probation 

October 2010​: ​Sigma Nu sends an ​email​: “Hey Ladies,” the message to the Sigma Nu 
fraternity social listserv began, “Whether your [sic] dressing up as a slutty nurse, a slutty 
doctor, a slutty schoolgirl, or just a total slut, we invite you to find shelter in the confines of 
Partners D.” 




October 2010​: ​Alpha Delta Phi sends an ​email​.  


November 2011​:​ ​Occupy Duke stands out as one of the only Occupy movements 
protesting directly on a college campus.​ Occupy Duke has created a peaceful camp on 
campus, offering a space to "create a platform for discussion." 
November 2011​:​ ​Pi Kappa Phi fraternity hosted a “n and Indians” themed party that 
played off stereotypes of Native Americans 

Letter to the Chronicle​, because they didn’t personally cover it until this letter and 
nothing was public until this letter.  

January 2012​:​ ​An unpublished Duke University study that says black students are more 
likely to switch to less difficult majors ​has upset some students, who say the research is 
emblematic of entrenched racial problems. The study, which opponents of affirmative 
action are using in a case they want the US Supreme Court to consider, concludes black 
students match the grade point averages of whites over time partially because they switch 
to majors that require less study and have less stringent grading standards. 
January 2012​:​ In response to the above study, about ​three dozen students held a silent 
protest ​Sunday outside a speech by black political strategist Donna Brazile that was part 
of the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance. And members of the Black Student 
Alliance have met with the provost to express their unhappiness with the study. 
November 2012​:​ ​Photo of Duke student in blackface was posted on an Athletic 
Department website 

Note: can’t find the Duke Chronicle article on this, even though it’s referenced in 
this article​.  


women's lacrosse player dons blackface for Halloween party, posts picture online 

February 2013​:​ ​Duke Kappa Sigma party ignites firestorm of criticism - Asia Prime 



The emails 

February 2013​: ​Duke Asian American Alliance organized a protest and fliers (with 
#RacistRager) were put up around the University's campus. ​Students assembled and 

protested the fraternity's place on campus​, demanding the university hold them 
accountable for racism and insensitivity. 

About 200 people participated in this protest sparked by a Duke fraternity party that 
they said denigrated Asians. 

October 4, 2013​:​ ​A group of students called DukeOpen with more than 2,000 petitions 
entered a Duke University Board of Trustees meeting​ and requested an audience in order 
to fight for the overhaul of the university’s guidelines on investment responsibility.  

Although the board rejected the students’ central request—the limited disclosure of 
the endowment’s investments—the new policy, in Brodhead’s words, reflects, “the 
most significant changes to our approach to socially responsible investment in 
almost a decade.” The board, in adopting these changes, not only affirmed the 
importance of socially responsible investing, but also revealed the tremendous 
power of thoughtful, impassioned and persistent student advocacy. 

April 2014​: ​The ​leadership of an academic unit​ planned and hosted departmental 
luncheons they labeled “Wok and Roll” and “PiE Fiesta,” at which we there were Power 
Point presentations depicting faculty and staff in stereotypical ethnic dress. 
June 2014​: ​Freshman dormitory Aycock will be renamed East Residence Hall,​ following 
years of protest over the building's namesake—former North Carolina governor Charles 
Aycock, a prominent figure in the white supremacy movement in the early 1900s. 

The change was agreed on by the Board of Trustees' executive committee at a 
meeting last Friday and comes six months after Duke Student Government ​passed 
a resolution​ supporting the renaming of the dormitory. Representatives from DSG 
and the Black Student Alliance met with members of the administration to present a 
formal proposal for the name change. 

August 30, 2014​:​ ​Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III had allegedly hit a contract 
parking employee Shelvia Underwood with his car and used a racial slur. 

This doesn’t emerge until February 2016 when Underwood filed a lawsuit against 


she lost her job 

December 2014​: ​About 120 students protested the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner 
and other African-American men at the hands of police​ in front of Duke Chapel. The 
protest occurred a day after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict an officer in the 


choking death of Garner, and a week after a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury did the same in the 
case of the shooting of Brown. Both cases have stirred national controversy.  
December 2014:​ ​A number of Duke students were among those arrested ​in a downtown 
protest reacting to recent national conversations on police violence and race relations. 
More than 200 demonstrators from across North Carolina, including a number of Duke 
students and faculty, rallied to protest the recent non-indictment of police officers involved 
in the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in New York City. 
December 2014​:​ ​Two-thirds of 1,252 members of the American Studies Association 
voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions because of Israel’s treatment of Palestine and 
its impact on students and scholars.​ Brodhead was one of 11 university presidents and 
chancellors who signed a statement Dec. 20 in opposition to the boycott—meaning they 
believe universities should continue to work with higher education institutions in 
Israel—because stopping this type of collaboration is a violation of academic freedom. 
January 2015​: ​Duke had initially planned to have weekly services begin with an amplified 
call to prayer from the chapel’s bell tower, but then cancelled plans due to intense debate.  

In response to this cancellation, the call occurred at the base of the chapel 
instead, when hundreds of students and faculty members met in bright 
sunshine to listen and support the Muslim students, some hugging, some 
holding signs such as “Let us worship together,” with a cross and the 
star-and-crescent symbol. 


March 2015:​ ​Black woman-identifying student taunted by white male members of SAE 
with a racist chant 

Statement from the Duke People of Color Caucus​, an anonymous group that 
emerged following this alleged chanting.  

Note: can’t find any Duke Chronicle articles on this, only a ​piece by the 
editorial board​ and ​this article that also talks about responses​.  

April 2015​: ​Noose reported on Bryan Center Plaza 

The Duke People of Color Caucus released the ​following statement on Tumblr 
along with a photo of the noose: To all black students, staff, faculty, and/or 
Durhamites on campus and in the area: Please take care of yourselves and each 


other. This campus is not a safe space, and has proven beyond any doubt that it is 
a hostile environment for any and all black people. 
April 2015​: ​Several hundred Duke students gathered at the West Campus bus stop 
before walking to the tree where a noose was hung. The demonstration was led by the 
Black Student Alliance with president Jamal Edwards, a junior, leading the way.  
September 2015​: ​Subcontractor’s Marriott protests off East Campus drawing student 
October 2015​: ​An Asian/American woman posted in the All Duke Facebook page that 
she had heard several male students shouting racial slurs outside her bedroom window at 
2 a.m.  

Referenced in ​this article​. 


Post is here. 

October 2015​: ​Black Lives Matter sign vandalized with racial slurs​: Black Lives Matter 
poster on campus with a racial slur. The ad was put in hallways to promote an upcoming 
Black Lives Matter event​.  

Student gather on Chapel steps​ ​in response to this.  

October 2015​:​ A group of about 30 students gathered Sunday evening on West Campus 
to protest unfair tuition hikes and oppression in South Africa—with some drawing 
similarities to problems in the United States. The protesters expressed their solidarity with 
the Fees Must Fall movement, which began when members of the Student Representative 
Council at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa shut down the university after 
administrators announced a 10.5 percent tuition hike.  
November 2015​:​ ​Death threat including homophobic slur found on first floor of East 
Residence Hall 
November 2015​: ​More than 100 students, faculty and administrators gathered in 
solidarity with University of Missouri protestors ​(protests were related to race, workplace 
benefits, and leadership). Following a silent protest in which attendees held signs and 
formed a perimeter around the Chapel quadrangle, a number of students and 
administrators delivered brief remarks to the crowd. The rally, organized by four graduate 
students, responded to protests at the University of Missouri and Yale University, but 
students also noted the growing frustration with the administrative response to acts of 
intolerance at Duke. 


January 2016​:​ ​A group of Duke graduate student workers decided to start organizing to 
shift the balance of power on campus​. Across the country, universities have become more 
and more reliant on underpaid and overworked adjunct faculty and graduate workers to 
perform essential education labor. In Durham, Duke students face these issues, which 
have only become a graver problem in light of skyrocketing cost-of-living expenses and 
stagnant stipends. 
February 2016​: ​The Chronicle ​reported​ that Executive Vice President Tallman Trask 
allegedly used a racial slur after hitting a parking attendant with his car. 
February 17, 2016​: ​On February 17th, 2016, ​Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity and Kappa 
Kappa Gamma Sorority hosted their annual incarceration-themed party, “Kappa Kops”​, in 
which people dressed up as police and prisoners, complete with a cage/jail cell and a 
mugshot photo booth, where partiers could pose with their fake guns, cops outfits, and 
inmate costumes. 

Picture of party​ (scroll down) 

February 19, 2016​: ​Approximately 25 protestors marched from the West Campus bus 
stop to the bench in front of Delta Sigma Phi section and held a “teach in,”​ in which they 
discussed the party, mass incarceration in the U.S. and other topics. 
February 22, 2016​: ​Me Too Monologues and United Students Against Sweatshops 
present a set of monologues written by Duke faculty and performed by students about 
faculty labor conditions, racial diversity, and unionization​.  
March 2016​:​ ​Duke non-tenure track faculty won their union with a terrific vote of 174 to 
29​! This was the FIRST faculty union in the South. 
March 2016​: Emerges that parking and Transportation Director Carl DePinto ​fostered a 
hostile work environment for black employees 
April 1, 2016​:​ ​Student-led sit-in of the Allen Building began​ weeklong protest. Their 
demands included a call for the removal of Executive Vice President Tallman Trask and 
other top administrators, an investigation into discriminatory behavior by the University’s 
Parking and Transportation Services as well as a livable wage for all Duke employees. 

Timeline of the protest 


Duke didn't let people get water or go to the bathroom, also doesn't let media 



They announced that nine students began a sit-in in the Allen Building with ​seven 
demands​, including Trask’s termination.  


Students then started to tent in the quad in front of the Allen building, which was 
then called A-Ville, or Amnesty-ville. 

April 2016:​ ​In response to Duke administration’s continued failure to hold top 
administrators Tallman Trask III, Kyle Cavanaugh, and Carl DePinto accountable for their 
roles in worker abuses and its refusal its employees and contractors a living wage and 
meaningful processes to adjudicate worker's claims of harassment, retaliation, and racism 
in the workplace, ​Duke Students & Workers in Solidarity host a Duke-Durham Solidarity 
Party at the East Campus bus stop​.  
April 2016​: ​Duke Administration is planning on moving the Women's Center from West to 
East campus​, underneath the Coffeehouse in the Crowell Academic building. Moving the 
space would be disastrous: it would reduce the scope and reach of the center's services, 
disrespect the history and sanctity of the WC's physical space, and move the WC, a place 
where many survivors of sexual assault seek counseling, to the same building where the 
Student Conduct process is conducted. 
April 2016​: ​Two banners and a pride flag were removed early Sunday morning from 
A-Ville​, the collection of tents outside the Allen Building where students have been staging 
a protest in support of workers’ rights for more than two weeks. Another pride flag 
hanging outside the window of senior Bron Maher’s dorm room in Craven Quadrangle was 
removed at some point before Thursday morning, and a pride flag his neighbor hung in 
support was cut down late Saturday night. 
Fall 2016​: ​Asian American space (BASE) established in the CMA: With the creation of 
spaces for Latinx and Asian American groups, Duke fulfills a demand made by Mi Gente 
on January 25, 2016. (Note: Duke has still not fulfilled a promise of a dedicated space for 
Native American students.) Mi Gente made ​ten demands​, threatening to pull its support 
from the Latino Student Recruitment Weekend if they were not met. 
● ‘​Three cultural groups awarded space in Center for Multicultural Affairs​’ — ​The 
Chronicle, Ryan Zhang 
● Plans to create these spaces and hire CMA staff began in the spring of 2016. 
Joanne Kang joined the CMA as a student development coordinator in fall 2016. 
She serves as the advisor for AAA, Diya, and ASA, as well as the head of the annual 
A/APIHM in April. 


● Note: this is not the AAS academic space demanded for AAS activists. 
September 2016​:​ ​Approximately 100 Divinity School students staged a protest​ outside 
the Chapel following ​a fatal shooting​ of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, by a police 
officer in Charlotte.  
October 2016​: ​Racial, anti-semitic and homophobic slurs painted under the East Campus 
bridge before NAACP event  
November 2016:​ ​More than 100 students and employees gathered at the Chapel 
Monday evening to respond to Donald Trump’s election as president.​ According to a 
press release issued by Duke Against Trump, the event was intended to create a space for 
students to reflect on the impact that Trump’s presidency would have on their lives and to 
organize students through a call to action. 
November 2016​: ​In response to Duke administration hiring Proskauer Rose, a major 
union-busting firm from New York City to undermine the formation of the Graduate Union 
here on campus, ​200+ undergraduate students organized and protested in front of the 
Allen Building in solidarity with Duke graduate students​.  
January 2017​:​ ​Members of the Duke and Durham community met at the steps of the 
Chapel Tuesday to protest President Donald Trump’s recent executive order regarding 
March 2017​:​ In response to Duke challenging hundreds of ballots at the National Labor 
Relations Board office in Winston Salem (challenging the right to organize and unionize) 
and Trump’s inauguration (note that Duke challenged graduate employees’ rights by 
arguing that the Trump administration may revoke that right in the future), ​the Duke 
Graduate Student Union organized a rally in front of the Allen Building​, stepping outside 
the classroom, rising up, teaching out, and marching out to show our determination to fix 
our broken and besieged higher education system. 
April 2017​: ​Graduate students do yoga on Abele Quad while collecting a petition to 
protest University's revocation of free gym access for fourth and fifth-year students​. In Fall 
2015 the Graduate School decided to no longer cover gym fees for students ​after their 
third year​ because of rising student health insurance premiums. 
April 2017​:​ ​Homophobic graffiti slur found outside ADPhi member's door on Central 
May 2017​:​ ​Duke rejects Muslim student leaders’ recommended candidate for Muslim 


June 2017​:​ ​Following frustration at Duke administration to negotiations regarding job 
security and pay, adjunct faculty at Duke protest and write an ​open letter to Provost Sally 
Kornbluth​ to state their refusal to accept a contract that would result in poverty wages for 
any member of Duke’s faculty.  
August 2017​:​ In response to a violent white nationalist rally last weekend centered around 
plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee near University of Virginia’s 
March 2018​:​ ​Duke College Republicans, the Alexander Hamilton Society (later pulls out 
their sponsorship after public protest), Duke Political Union, and Young Americans for 
Liberty plan to host the talk, “The American Muslim Identity,”​ to bring Zuhdi Jasser, a 
medical doctor and the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for 
Democracy, to campus. 

The topics to be discussed include the nature of Islamic extremism, radicalization 
and the responsibilities of American Muslims. 


Jasser supports discriminatory surveillance against American Muslim communities 
by the American government.  

March 2018​: ​The Muslim Students Association hosts a teach-in protest​ in response to a 
campus event called "​The American Muslim Identity​" and, more broadly, against instances 
of Islamophobia and racism across the nation Monday.  
March 2018​:​ ​Protest breaks out at Divinity School event in support of LGBTQIA issues​: 
Armed with megaphones, a group of disgruntled students interrupted the Divinity School 
State of the School address to give what they called “the real State of the School 
address.” The group, which identified themselves as LGBTQIA+ Duke Divinity students 
and allies, was protesting the treatment of students with marginalized sexual orientations 
and gender identities in the school. The protesters issued a list of ​15 demands​ at the end 
of the Wednesday incident and said they would take “further, non-violent, direct action” if 
the demands were not met.  
April 2018​: ​In a post on the Duke Memes for Gothicc Teens Facebook group Thursday 
afternoon, a sophomore student was called out for posting Snapchats with text that 
included the word “n*****.” 

Administration response lmao 

April 2018: ​Racial slur written on 300 swift apartment door 


April 2018​:​ ​A group of organized students - the People’s State of the University - 
disrupted President Vincent Price’s address to alumni​, calling for institutional change in 
labor practices and student support, among other demands. 

Demands at bottom of Chronicle article.  

May 2018​:​ ​Moneta told Britni Brown, a black woman and a barista at the coffee shop, 
that the song that was playing, “Get Paid” by Young Dolph, was offensive and 
inappropriate.​ Brown immediately, turned off the song, and offered to give Moneta his 
order free of charge. Moneta and Kevin Simmons, another employee who was working 
that day, were both asked to leave the company after management at Joe Van Gogh 
heard from Duke University about the incident. 

Protesters at Duke Joe Van Gogh Call on Administration to Condemn Controversial 
Employee Firing​: Outside Joe Van Gogh Wednesday, students held signs, chanted, 
and danced to the song that got both employees fired. A number of Joe Van Gogh 
employees participated in the protest themselves, and even those who were 
working greeted protesters with ice water and vegan muffins, Moneta’s usual order 
at the establishment. 

August 2018​: ​'Heinous racial epithet' written on sign at Mary Lou Williams Center two 
days before classes start  

September 2018​:​ ​Latinx Heritage Month mural found defaced on East Campus Bridge 

September 5, 2018​:​ ​Protesters gather at Duke to urge name change for Carr Building 
(now called the Classroom Building)​: Nearly a hundred people gathered on Duke 
University's East Campus Wednesday night to keep pressure on the university to change 
the name of the Carr Building. The rally was organized by the "People's State of the 
University," a Duke-based group.  

“We're here on this bigger campaign of educating students about who Julian Carr 
was, what white supremacy looks like at Duke and some of the tangible ways we 
want the university to change,” said Trey Walk, a senior. 

September 2018​: ​the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support sent letters to the 
families of students on need-based financial aid. These terse letters informed these 
students that, with the exception of those whose expected parental contribution is $0, 
Duke would no longer cover​ the cost of the Student Medical Insurance Plan (SMIP) in its 
need-based financial aid plans.  

Editorial Board Article 


The beginning of the end of an affordable Duke  

September 2018​:​ ​Duke’s housekeeping staff have shifted to a new work schedule that 
alternates the workers’ two off days between weekends and Thursdays and Fridays.​ Every 
other week, Duke’s housekeeping staff will work on weekends, meaning staff members 
are frequently working seven days in a row—Saturday to Friday, which sparked a student 
petition​ to return housekeeping staff to their previous Monday-Friday schedule 
October 2018: ​Swastika found carved in bathroom stall of Languages Building 
November 2018​:​ ​Graduate students make 'livable stipend' proposal at Academic Council 
meeting​. The Duke Graduate Student Union proposed to raise Ph.D. student base stipend 
to $31,800 per year, eliminate continuation fees—which amount to $3,700 per semester 
and are paid by graduate students beginning in their sixth year—and allocate $1,000 for 
each incoming student's relocation expenses.  
November 2018: ​Pumpkin carved with swastika, flyer saying 'It's okay to be white' found 
on East Campus 
November 2018​: ​Swastika is found painted on top of students' mural memorializing 
Pittsburgh shooting 

Letter in response 


November 2018:​ ​Identity Evropa stickers are placed around campus​. ​Identity Evropa is 
identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League as a white 
supremacist group and a hate group. 
January 2019​:​ ​Megan Neely emails​ to ask students to use English after two unnamed 
colleagues approached her about students speaking Chinese in lounge or study areas. 
The two colleagues were trying to identify the students they heard speaking Chinese to 
record their names in case the students ever applied for an internship or were interviewed 
by them, she wrote in the email. 
April 1, 2019​: ​Students and community members gather outside Allen Building to protest 
Duke's light rail decision.​ Duke People’s State of the University organized a rally Friday to 
protest Duke's decision to not sign the light rail cooperation agreement. The light rail was a 
proposed $3.3 billion transit project designed to connect Duke, North Carolina Central 
University and UNC Chapel Hill. ​Duke announced on Feb. 27 its withdrawal from the light 
rail project, virtually ending any chance of continuing the construction of the project.​ The 
university cited the risk the construction posed to research and patients, referring to 
Duke’s Medical Center on Erwin road.Gathered outside the Allen Building on West 
Campus, Duke students, professors and members of the Durham community spoke at the 
April 2019:​ ​the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Dr. Gary Bennett, informed 
Colleen Scott, director of the Baldwin Scholars program, that Scholars would permanently 
lose access to the Baldwin office and meeting space—an environment that has fostered a 
supportive community and valuable collaboration for hundreds of students over the last 
fifteen years. Instead, this space would be converted for use by the Kenan Institute of 
Ethics, and the Baldwin Scholars program would move into a shared space in Smith 
Warehouse with no designated Baldwin area.  

Statement from Baldwin Scholars 

Other existing timelines​:  

Asian American Studies Timeline​ (curated by Asian American Studies Working 


“Cherry Blossoms Among Magnolias?”: A History of Asian American Experience at 
Duke​ (curated by Alan Ko) 



Timeline of Duke’s LGBTQ History​ (curated by Jess McDonald, Lumen Scholar 
from Elon University) 


Narrative History of LGBT Life at Duke​ (curated by Jess McDonald, Lumen Scholar 
from Elon University) 


Queering Duke History​ (curated by the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity) 


Timeline for the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary for the first black students 
at Duke 


History of the Black Student Alliance​ (curated by the Black Student Alliance) 


Durham Civil Rights Heritage Project​ (curated by Durham County Library) 


“The History of Latinx Students at Duke University”​ (History thesis by Elizabeth 
Barahona, T’18) 



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