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TOWERVIEW + WATCH LIST: 10 springtime traditions at Duke.

+ PERSPECTIVES: Jacob Tobia’s brand, Durham’s street art and a tribute to Ben Ward.

third culture kids The students who are from everywhere but belong nowhere.

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Publication: Chronicle Towerview Size: 7” x 4.75” Job Number: 864-3030 Run Date: October 30, 2013 Dana Communications 609.466.9187

Tour guide March 2014

VOL. 15


BUS STOP CULTURE KIDS: 05 THIRD A personal piece about the kids who call many countries their homes.

LIST: 08 WATCH 10 of the University’s springtime

ON THE COVER! Graphic by Dillon Patel.


TRIBUTE TO BEN WARD: 10 AAlumnus David Rothschild reflects on his friend and fellow Pitchfork.



From typewriters to computers, Duke’s academics have evolved with

SELF-APPOINTED ACTIVIST: 18 THE Using celebrity status to incite


campus change.


A look at disability accessibility on Duke’s campus.

STREET ART: 26 DURHAM The role of art in the streets of Chile, France and Durham, N.C.

SHUTTER PROTESTS: 13 CAMPUS Since the 1960s, Duke students have never been afraid to speak their minds.



Students share their worst tenting experiences.





Jennie Xu Dillon Patel Lauren Carroll Sharif Labban Jamie Moon Julian Spector Danielle Muoio

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lauren Carroll, Brandon Choi, Sophia Durand, Sid Gopinath, Sharif Labban, Jamie Moon, Connor Moyles, Becky Richards, David Rothschild, Anton Saleh, Chelsea Sawicki CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Marie-Claire Bousquette, Eliza Bray, Rinzin Dorjee, Abby Farley, Darbi Griffith, Jesus Hidalgo, Eric Lin, Emma Loewe, Thanh-Ha Nguyen, Sophia Palenberg, Jennie Xu, Victor Ye, Jisoo Yoon CONTRIBUTING STAFF Lauren Carroll, Alan Dippy, Sharif Labban, Jamie Moon, Julian Spector, Jennie Xu GENERAL MANAGER ADVERTISING DIRECTOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR OPERATIONS MANAGER DIGITAL SALES MANAGER

Chrissy Beck Rebecca Dickenson Barbara Starbuck Mary Weaver Megan McGinity

@TowerviewMag towerview

Towerview Magazine


Towerview is a subsidiary of The Chronicle and is published by the Duke Student Publishing Company, Inc., a non-profit corporation independent of Duke University. The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Duke University, its students, faculty, staff, administration or trustees. Columns, letters and cartoons represent the views of the authors. To reach The Chronicle’s editorial office at 301 Flowers Building, call (919) 684-2663 or fax (919) 684-4696. To reach The Chronicle’s business office at 103 West Union Building, call (919) 684-3811. To reach The Chronicle’s advertising office at 2022 Campus Drive, call (919) 684-3811 or fax (919) 684-8295. Contact the advertising office for information on subscriptions. Visit The Chronicle and Towerview online at ©2014 Duke Student Publishing Company, The Chronicle, Box 90858, Durham, N.C. 27708. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the prior, written permission of the business office. Each individual is entitled to one free copy.



MARCH 2014

A streak of sentimentality has run through our editors’ notes, perhaps because Ashley and Caitlin are seniors, but this one will be different. Let’s be realistic. There are plenty of things about Duke that we’re looking forward to leave behind. We’re don’t necessarily mean “hook-up culture” or “effortless perfection.” We’re talking about inherent complexities and dilemmas of our everyday lives at Duke that we absolutely will not miss. 1) Being surrounded by people who are all at the same place in life. The relative homogeneity of the Duke student body, especially with regards to age, means that we’re all making the same transitions at the exact same time. Questions like “what are you doing next year?” are guaranteed stress-triggers that induce fake smiles and canned answers. Ashley is ready to be rid of classes full of pre-meds, stressing about MCATs or asking if she applied to 25 medical schools, especially since she’s going to vet school and they’re not the same thing. Also, you can save lives without having a A+ in every organic-micro-biochemistry-physics class you take. 2) Fun comes at a price. When we put our emotional well-being first and carve out time to hang out with friends, go out to new restaurants, etc., we’re constantly aware that we’re using up time that could be devoted to other commitments. No matter how sincere our intent to set everything aside, it can be difficult to squash the nagging doubt that says, “you’re going to regret being behind on your work tomorrow.” Here’s how such a scenario plays out in real life. Caitlin felt compelled to leave a Saturday reunion dinner for her DukeEngage Togo group because she had to write an essay about The Scarlet Letter. Her friend asked, “what do you have to do,” in a flat tone suggesting, “what could possibly be so urgent that you have to leave early on a Saturday night?” She chose to stay. But she was torn about her decision, and her paper didn’t get done that night. 3) Being broke and dependent. In the world of a graduating senior, fun also comes at a different kind of price. With the uncertainty of Caitlin’s future career path and the certainty of massive graduate school debt for Ashley, our pockets are looking less than full next year. In our Editor’s Note, we’re obviously choosing to look at Duke from a cynical point of view. But perspective is subjective, and the personal pieces throughout our issue offer various points of view. David Rothschild, Trinity ‘12, shares his fond memories of Ben Ward (p. 10), senior Chelsea Sawicki reflects on her personal encounters with street art around the world (p. 26), and junior Sophia Durand reflects on her experiences as a Third Culture Kid (p. 5). Springtime is here. Good bye, and good riddance.



Bus stop

A personal piece about being a Third Culture Kid. you feel like you belong everywhere, yet do not truly belong anywhere.


here are you from?” and “where is home?” are easy conversation starters. Yet a portion of Duke’s student body dreads having to answer them—because they do not have the answers themselves. Three and a half years ago, I sat anxiously next to my parents and younger sister in a stuffy gym filled with families and students from all over the world. It was the start of international orientation and the first order of the day was to convey how truly diverse Duke’s student body was. Country names were called out, and students stood up to wave, making sure to remember the faces of people who hailed from their part of the world, or taking mental notes of students who may have spoken the same language as them. They called out Bahrain and, instinctively, I was on my feet. It came as no great surprise that

I was the only person who stood up. It also came as no great surprise that this triggered a familiar sense of panic. I knew I would have to explain to people I met where Bahrain was or, even more frustratingly, why I felt it was my responsibility to represent a country from which I held no passport and had no family ties. With all that in mind, I waved and took my seat again—but not for long. A few short minutes later, they called out “France!” and once again I stood up, puzzled that the crowd had no reaction to seeing my reappearance under a different nationality. When I stood for the last time as they called out Kenya, my former feeling of shyness and awkwardness had been replaced with relief. I had seen other students stand up time and again, so I knew I was not alone—I was part of a community I had yet to discover. Coined by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1950s, the term Third Culture Kids initially referred to the process of assimilating to a new

culture. In recent years, however, the meaning of TCK has broadened to describe children who come from multicultural backgrounds, or who spend their developmental years in a foreign culture. Traditionally, a culture describes the shared attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a particular social group. Yet as TCKs, our sense of culture derives from so many different places that the chances of finding another TCK with the same background is next to impossible. Given the array of variables, including nationality, language, race and religion, the TCK label applies to people who share nothing in common besides their differences. Growing up in multicultural households or in foreign countries, we have had to build our sense of identity on a constantly changing cultural foundation. I have observed in myself and other TCKs a natural tendency to draw on certain parts of our identity to match the group of people we’re with at a given time. When talking on the phone to their parents, TCKs’ accents might slip from the tones they became

third culture





accustomed to in high school or college, to the familiar vocal habits they grew up with. It’s hard to classify this multifaceted nature as a good or bad thing: you feel like you belong everywhere, yet do not truly belong anywhere. Unlike people who have grown up in the same neighborhood their entire lives or who have always lived close to their childhood friends, our friends are scattered across the world and our “homes,” at least in the physical sense, are where our families live at one specific moment in time. In the words of junior Maxime FischerZernin, who grew up in New York and Switzerland and has family roots in France and Germany, “For a regular Duke kid, it seems like they’ve got their friends at school and their friends at home. Right now, I just have my friends at Duke, and my other friends are everywhere. Friendships are really about tracking people down when you are across the world.” Often, TCKs speak multiple languages and are knowledgeable of the customs and mores of more than one culture. They feel comfortable traveling and meeting new people, and in fact, could probably pass for locals in a handful of countries. Essentially, they could belong anywhere. Despite this, it is difficult to feel a strong link to one single place. If you choose one culture over another, does that mean you are any

less of the other? Your country of birth may differ from your passport country, or your parents may come from opposite sides of the world and you may feel more of a connection to your host country than your homeland. If experience has taught me anything, it’s that I can easily blend in, pick up languages and mannerisms and embrace a culture. But it has also taught me that I don’t quite fit in anywhere. I grew up with a notion of home that differs from that of most people, with a sense of identity spread thin across cultures. I thought that coming to Duke would only add to the confusion, and I was prepared to tell half-truths—unwilling to embark on long monologues about my background. I dreaded but knew what would be asked countless times throughout orientation week: “So, where are you from?” “One of my friends has a blog about being a TCK and it’s pretty clear she is torn between her cultures,” junior Elizabeth Onstwedder said. Although Onstwedder settles with partial belonging, she does think it is sometimes difficult because other people make TCKs feel like they do not belong. People often assume that Onstwedder, who was born and lived in London, is English because of her appearance and accent.

Yet, her mother is American and her father is Dutch. “People ask qualifying questions and judge,” she noted. Self-described TCK Alex Graham James depicts the difficulties that accompany adolescence and adulthood as a TCK in his 2008 poem “Uniquely Me.” He writes that someone rooted in one space cannot feel the homesickness that hits him. “I am/ an island/ and/ a United Nations/ Who can recognize either in me/ but God?” The homesickness experienced by TCKs is unique in that simply returning to a particular place is not enough to solve it. Having lived in various places or between cultures, and built relationships with different cultures, it is challenging to be fully engaged with one specific home without feeling a longing for the past. Although James’ poem attempts to convey his personal challenges with homesickness, he—along with most TCKs— is experiencing what the Welsh call “hiraeth” or the Portuguese “saudade,” a concept of longing that does not have an equivalent in the English language. The terms can be translated as “homesickness” but take on an additional, more complex meaning—the idea of something that may never have existed. For TCKs, this missing piece could be the feeling of fully belonging to a culture—essentially feeling complete. In a sense, TCKs are global nomads because they are hard to define. Generally, we are the children who spend countless hours of our

lives in airports—in transit between cultures and between homes. We are the children—and later adults—who feel most at home when traveling, the ones who experience nostalgia before even leaving our designated “home.” Given our complicated backgrounds and breadth of experiences, we take on the form of a cultural chameleon, balancing the benefits and challenges of being a TCK—for example, blending in versus being different. But our need to travel, explore the world and experience what it has to offer is never satisfied. For many of us, myself included, Duke is just another pit stop in our lives. “I don’t view college as this crazy step where you are away from home, this is just another phase,” Fischer-Zernin explained.

“I am an island and a United Nations Who can recognize either in me but God?” —Alex Graham James in his 2008 poem “Uniquely me”




Photo by Thanh-Ha Nguyen

While some Duke students find all-nighters in Perkins Library an invigorating activity, all can agree that the most exciting events in Perkins are the annual library parties. Students can enjoy uncharacteristically festive food, music and zero studying the “Life is a Cabaret” library party Feb. 21. —Sharif Labban


Hosted by the Joe College committee of Duke University Union, this concert has proved popular in the past with students, who associate much of this music with their childhood. The concert has included throwback artists such as Shaggy, Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth in past years, and will seek to build on previous success this year. —Sid Gopinath

Photo by Darbi Griffith


Photo by Eric Lin

As the second semester progresses, there is a buildup to one of the most anticipated days of the year, the Last Day of Classes. The LDOC concert features worldrenowned musicians who come and provide some much needed fun for Duke students. In 2004, Kanye West set the bar high for Duke students, according to an article from The Chronicle. Popular musicians like B.o.B. and Macklemore in 2012, as well as Steve Aoki and Kendrick Lamar in 2013, have helped maintain Duke students’ high expectations for trending popular artists. —Anton Saleh

common ground The student-led retreat program Common Ground facilitates discussions of core aspects that forge students’ identities. Common Ground is a biannual check styleprogram sponsored by the Center for Race Relations that is dedicated to fostering student interaction and examination of intrapersonal issues. Moreover, Common Ground provides a safe environment for participants to initiate and engage in sensitive discussions that are often lacking on campus, said junior Reem Alfahad. —Brandon Choi Special to Towerview

GREEK AND SLG RUSh The first chartered fraternity at Duke’s precursor, Trinity College, was the Gamma Chapter of Sigma Nu in 1871, followed by the first sorority, the Omicron chapter of Alpha Delta Pi, in 1911. Although Greek life originally had a relatively small presence on campus, has turned into an integral part of everyday student life. According to the Duke Student Affairs website, about 32 percent of students engage in greek life. There are now more than 41 chapters of fraternities and sororities, governed by the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, Multicultural Greek Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. —Connor Moyles

Photo by Jennie Xu



MARCH 2014

Photo by Eliza Bray

Personal checks

Starting in 2008, the personal checks celebration has been Duke’s largest event other than LDOC. Because all tenters are required to be in K-ville during the last round of checks before the Duke verus North Carolina game, it makes for a raucous party complete with food trucks and music. OK GO headlined the first show, and performers since have included Chiddy Bang and A-Trak. —Lauren Carroll


Special to Towerview


Special to Towerview

Some Duke athletes have to work and to compete during winter break, but often that means heading somewhere tropical. Teams like men’s and women’s tennis and swimming and diving have taken their training and competitions to vacation hot spots—like Barbados and Florida. Last winter, the tennis teams got to snorkle and climb volcanoes in Hawaii. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the club ski and snowboarding team took to the slopes during winter break. —Lauren Carroll


While some students hop onto a crowded cruise ship this spring break, members of Duke Chorale will squeeze onto a tour bus to New England for their annual tour. A tradition that goes as far back as 1969, the Chorale spends a week performing at local churches, exploring cities and enhancing their musical performance. —Jamie Moon

Sophomore year can be an exciting but stressful whirlwind for Duke students, sicne sophomores must declare a course of study from among the University’s 50 majors, 47 minors and 24 interdisciplinary certificates. Sophomore Academic Homecoming aims to turn this hyped-up decision into a celebration. The first annual Sophomore Academic Homecoming came to fruition in March 2013. Hosted just after sophomores declare their majors, the event is intended to be a celebration of this academic occasion and an opportunity for students to interact with fellow classmates as well as faculty members within their newly selected academic departments. —Becky Richards

Photo by Jisoo Yoon


Towerview File Photo

Since 2012 at the annual B’lue Mitzvah, the community comes together to celebrate Duke students’ Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. The Jewish Student Union tradition lasts all day, with Torah readings in the morning and then a blow-out bash in the Freeman Center for Jewish Life in the evening. —Lauren Carroll

Check out Towerview’s webpage at section/towerview/

for full stories on each spring tradition on our list.




my frienD


Perhaps Ben Ward’s greatest accomplishment—of all of the many great ones—was in the sheer number of people he touched, and the ease with which he touched them.



n the course of common small-talk, lately I’ve been committing a cardinal sin, breaking that basic social contract by bringing up matters less trivial than sports and weather. Lately I’ve been forced to tell people, “my friend Ben Ward died.” Ben was a professor, a part of the Duke community for more than 30 years. He was an active member of the Pitchforks since 1980, the a cappella group where I first met him. I insist on phrasing it like that, “my friend Ben,” because that’s how I knew him. Some may think of Ben in terms of his incredible accomplishments and stories. Ben stories are almost their own genre: they sit somewhere between tall tale, urban legend and Greco-Roman mythology, but are somehow entirely true—100 percent reputable. He spoke eight languages and held a doctorate and dean position at Yale by the time he was 25. He taught philosophy, German and Arabic. He toured as a concert pianist, accompanied Coretta King at recitals, played the organ at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, fasted for a month to avoid the draft, spent five nights a week cooking meals at a soup kitchen. All these stories, and there are more, make very clear that Ben led an incredible and incredibly full life. But this is not how I choose to remember this genius, this prodigy, as President Richard Brodhead called him after Ben’s memorial service. I remember him as the guy who’d quietly sneak up behind you, wrap his long, dramatic fingers around your neck and jovially throttle you


MARCH 2014

for a bit longer than you’d expect. Then he’d move seamlessly into a hug. He’d check in about your dogs, parents and siblings—all of whom he knew by name—and ask whether anyone had been missing those sneakers he’d stolen from the closet during a Pitchforks trip to your house. That was the Ben I cherish most: the Ben who liked to curse out the “hussy” on the GPS, who’d sit and talk with you for hours and teach you the world… so long as you didn’t take any of his strawberry ice cream. Perhaps Ben’s greatest accomplishment—of all of the many great ones—was in the sheer number of people he touched, and the ease with which he touched them. The Ben I first met was a sturdy 6 feet 4 inches, and well above 200 pounds. It saddens me that the picture I am left with of my friend is of the weakened man who needed that cane, and not the towering figure who earned in full the nickname, “Big Daddy Ben.” Although his illness was salient, I usually remember Ben’s cane as his weapon of choice—that blue bludgeon with the Hot Wheels logo emblazoned down the side— not as a weakness. When Ben would go in for his treatments, he was never interested in hearing much from the doctors or nurses about his cancer: Ben wanted to chat about how they were doing, about the Durham Bulls, about Mozart’s birthday, and then he wanted to pop in his headphones and listen to some music and not be bothered. During Ben’s treatments, he would rest all day until late at night, when he was wide awake.

Bus stop

“Time is not a commodity. It cannot be spent, it can only be shared.” —Ben Ward

Thus began the biweekly update emails, sent to the Pitchforks and Pitchforks alumni. You might expect that “update emails” written on the day of one’s chemotherapy treatment would be all about one’s health and prognosis—but no. Ben’s emails were almost formulaic. They included one independent clause about his treatment, one sentence bragging about his weight, and one more thanking his recent visitors. Then followed six paragraphs discussing the Bruckner Symphonies he’d listened to, with an explanation of why the 1997 performance by the Berliner Philharmoniker was, by all measures, the definitive recorded version. “I also had my treatment yesterday, and the musical choices were easy,” he wrote in an email Nov. 23, 2013. That was his last email to the group, sent only three weeks before his passing. Some very clever and nuanced Spanish translation yielded the nickname Papa Grande, which Ben used almost exclusively in these emails, always in the third person, and often shortened to just “PG.” Papa Grande never much bothered to be a cancer patient, and never much bothered to be dying. Papa Grande rarely missed a rehearsal, almost never a show and absolutely never a note. Only a few months after Ben’s diagnosis in 2010, he went beyond attending the Annual Gothic Christmas Concert. And he did not only lead all the rehearsals and teach all the music, but he also conducted the whole show with the exact same fervor. I remember his demonstrative hand waving and

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wild gesturing—conjuring up crescendos from the depths of his body, and quiet cantation with the sudden flick of his finger—all from the comfort of his wreathed and ornamented wheelchair. One year later, he did the same thing, this time standing. This is how it always was, and how it would be until Dec. 2013, when Ben was ultimately admitted to the hospital just two days shy of another Gothic Christmas Concert. But the show went on—both in Perkins Library and in the halls of Duke University Medical Center, outside Ben’s room. I’m guessing he conducted along to a few songs, and I’m sure

there was only one “Hall” decked with boughs of holly, as was originally written in 1862, as Ben always insisted upon. From the onset, there was plenty of talk of five-year survival rates and very low odds. Even when in September of 2011 Ben celebrated his remission with a full piano recital in the Nelson Music Room—appropriately titled “With Renewed Strength”—we knew his cancer would always be lurking. But, as was Ben’s way, he didn’t tell us just how sick he had again become. We just knew what lovely music he had been listening to. On my last visit to Durham, back in October, I was unable to see Ben. I thought nothing of it. I’d be back soon. We lost Ben on December 14th after a weeklong vigil, dozens of visitors and even more emails pouring in from around the world. I wasn’t back soon enough. After his memorial service Jan. 18 in the Chapel, someone recounted a story of Ben rebuffing their use of the idiom, “spend some time.” Ben liked to correct people’s grammar, but in the midst of his illness, Ben was correcting an understanding. “Time is not a commodity,” Ben said. “It cannot be spent, it can only be shared.” Ben shared 65 years of life with the world, understanding that full well. Upon returning from his memorial, when asked about my weekend and how I was holding up, I got a kick out of shocking people—now prepared

and using their serious voice for a somber discussion—by responding, “it was great!” Ben knew that our everyday discomfort with death and the notion of grief—our stammering, our mechanical apologies—does not often consist of sadness over a person’s personal loss of life, but is simply a projection of our own insecurities, our own ignorance of the meaning of mortality. In fact, Ben insisted that no one speak at all at his memorial service. We were not to ponder any meaning through religion, or to mourn through sad words. We were to sit and to listen to two handpicked recordings of Strauss compositions, and that was all. I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend Ben because, selfishly, I’ll miss him. But that’s it; there is nothing else inherently sad, unnerving or tragic about it. The hundreds of people who knew and loved Ben came together to celebrate his life, and will continue to do so. I’ve been listening to more classical music lately. And as I did on that Saturday in the Chapel, I’ve been doing a lot less talking, a lot more listening and a lot of thinking about my friend Ben.

duke students delve into



Since the 1960s, duke students have sprung to action to protect their beliefs. from occupying the allen building to protesting wars, duke students have never been afraid to speak their minds.




uke students have never been the type to just sit and let the world change around them. Throughout the University’s history, there have been several defining moments when students and faculty took direct action to protect their beliefs. The 1960s were a defining time for the University and for student involvement in protests. AfricanAmerican students staged a study-in within the Allen Building to demand friendlier policies towards the black student population Nov. 1967. Tensions between the African-American population and the administration reached an all-time high Feb. 13, 1969 when students took over the Allen Building. Students barricaded themselves inside of the building demanding more equal treatment, according to the University archives. Upon receiving promises of negotiations with the administration and exiting the building, police teargassed the students on the quad. Protests against Vietnam raged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These protests were among the first

in the country to call for an end to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Even in the 21st century, there have been several student war protests, according to a previous article from The Chronicle. Throughout Feb. 2003, students protesting the Iraq War camped out in tents on the Chapel Quad with the support of the local community. In 2005, Duke students and Durham residents marched together from Brightleaf Square to East Campus in a rally against the Iraq War. The national Occupy Movement also made its way to Duke in Fall 2011. Protesters called for campus dialogue regarding economic justice and participatory democracy, according to a previous article from The Chronicle. Duke students aren’t afraid to promote campus dialogue through more than just their words. If history says anything, it is that Duke students are always willing to take their opinion off of the page or the computer screen and translate it into direct action. TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE



If history says anything, it is that Duke students are always willing to take their opinion off of the page or the computer screen and translate it into direct action. 14


MARCH 2014







ollege students of the 21st century rarely go a day without experiencing the benefits of modern technologies. Smart phones and the Internet provide instantaneous access to information, note-taking with a pen and notebook is nearly a remnant of the past and classrooms take advantage of sophisticated equipment to enhance students’ learning experiences. Duke’s academic culture in the past, however, was drastically different from the tech-savvy campus that students know now. Students currently have the opportunity to register for classes from the comfort of their dormitories and can easily drop a class and switch into another online. In the days before such easy access, however, students needed to be physically present for class registration. Requiring students to line up several hours in advance, class registration initiated a line of students of similar length to what current Duke students see in Krzyzewskiville before basketball games.


“In so many ways, technology has transformed our business,” English professor Victor Strandberg said. Strandberg first came to Duke in 1966 and has been a professor at the University for almost 50 years. Registration previously occurred in either a large tent or an auditorium on campus, he said. Several professors would set up tables organized according to their respective academic departments and await an inundation of students seeking to register for classes. “Students would rush to the tables and enroll in whatever classes they wanted, but they had to do it quick. If the class filled up, that was tough luck,” Strandberg said. “It was chaotic. So of course having the computerized system is a godsend for both students and teachers.” Dropping or adding a class was even less convenient. Amy Waldo Allen, Trinity ‘81, said the Drop-Add process took place in the intramural gym during the first week of classes. “I tried to avoid having to do Drop-Add because it was pesty and time consuming,” she

wrote in an email. Before computers covered the familiar tables and desks of Perkins Library, there were typewriters. Students were only able to use electrical typewriters in the library and didn’t have the freedom to edit and to change drafts numerous times. If a typist made a mistake, he or she needed to white it out, let it dry and then type over the mistake. Elizabeth Franke Stevens, Trinity ‘81, said correction fluid was essential for the typing process. The longer the paper was, the more pressure there was to avoid the need to retype it. “There was definitely less opportunity to analyze and edit,” said Margaret Crockett, Trinity ’81. The typing process required students to handwrite drafts prior to typing the final version. For those students who paid other students or members of the community to type the paper for them, the draft needed to be completed well in advance of the deadline. “I was a terrible and slow typist... so I paid TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE


a stay-at-home mom who wanted to make some money to type my papers,” Allen said. Phyllis Bedel Crockett, Duke School of Nursing ‘57, said hand writing assignments was the only alternative to typing. The technical process of typing on typewriters was not the only obstacle to writing a paper. Julie Tetel Andresen, chair of linguistics and Trinity ‘72, explained that in place of electronic journals, students could only use books as sources. And rather than looking up the locations of books using computers, students used card catalogues. A ‘painstaking’ process Even more tedious than the typing process was the reproduction of papers. Strandberg explained that in order to produce copies of a paper or picture, students and professors needed to type out their intended copy onto a stencil, then place it in a machine and crank out the duplicates by hand. “It was a very painstaking and imperfect process,” he said. When it came to reproducing material from a publication, whether it be a picture or a reading, the page needed to be torn out. Often, when a student attempted to find what he or she needed, the page had already been ripped out. Sometimes, this process became a competition among students—a student could rip out the sought-after page just to garner an advantage in the class over the other students. “It was a disaster for scholarship,” Strandberg said.



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Duke’s academic culture was arguably less complicated, however, than the technologydriven campus students know today. Prior to the convenience of instantaneous communication through email, no assignments could be due during breaks, Margaret Crockett said. Allen also noted that take-home tests were a rarity, and the occasional ones were written by hand and dropped off at the professor’s office. Tetel Andresen said there was more reading assigned in the past but perhaps fewer written assignments. “There was no leeway to turn in work, though. We had to hand in our work right at the beginning of class,” she said. Streamlined learning Duke students would most likely consider the current class schedule and grading system to be improvements from past decades. Tetel Andresen said during her tenure at Duke, the University required all students to take five classes. Classes would meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. In the past, the classrooms never revolved around PowerPoint presentations, nor were classrooms filled with students taking notes on their laptops. Instead, the class environment relied on blackboards and transparencies on a projector. Stevens said she thinks these modern improvements in the classroom are helpful because they make it easier for students to keep up with lectures and take notes. “Without PowerPoints and handouts, it

was more important to listen well and take excellent class notes, and not to miss class,” Margaret Crockett said. Despite the somewhat simpler academic environment that existed before these modern technologies, Strandberg and Tetel Andresen said modern technologies have allowed for many valuable possibilities. Tetel Andresen credits the advent of electronic journals with providing the ability to spend less time searching for this information and more time reading it—often search engines allow people to encounter helpful readings randomly. Strandberg said universal access to information will become increasingly prominent in the future. “I’m looking forward to using the Internet to teach classes free of charge to anyone in the world interested in the subject,” Strandberg said. “I’m looking forward to at least some investment in this enormously welcome time when we can offer an education to people not limited by their income level.” Not everyone has such a favorable view toward modern technology. Some may idealize a simpler Duke where students had more free time and juggled fewer demands. But before complaining about having to work at too fast of a pace, current students can be grateful that they don’t need to trek to Perkins to find books using a card catalogue, go to class on Saturdays or jostle people in line to get into popular classes on registration day.


“I was a terrible and slow typist... so i paid a stay-at-home mom who wanted to make some money to type my papers.” —Amy Waldo Allen







—Step 1:

Decide whether or not to take on an issue by weighing the time and resources necessary against importance and mass appeal.

—Step 2: Rehearse, pitch and tweak your idea through informal conversation with friends. —Step 3: Find your allies among student leaders in relevant positions. —Step 4: Vet the idea with administrators. —Step 5: Do your research. Look at peer institutions, impact of policies, justifications

for policies and national trends.

—Step 6: Gather a core group of three to five people to steer the campaign. —Step 7: Write a proposal for the administration. (Proposal format: introduction,

executive summary, current reality, proposed changes, rationale, potential impacts, common concerns addressed, appendices with relevant research and articles)

—Step 8: Name your campaign. —Step 9: Create a website to show seriousness. —Step 10: Approach The Chronicle to write a news article or opinion piece. —Step 11: Go to DSG and other student groups to get endorsements. —Step 12: If the administration still isn’t budging, then reach out to national or regional press or host a public demonstration.

This is the blueprint for realizing policy change goals as an activist at Duke, authored by senior Jacob Tobia.




lthough many student leaders are making an impact on Duke, none have Jacob Tobia’s celebrity. With gender-bending attire and a penchant for loud activism, it didn’t take long after orientation week for him to become a recognizable figure around campus. He carries a reputation now that if there is an activist campaign at Duke— not just in his primary focus of queer advocacy, but also on behalf of other minority groups and causes—Tobia is behind it, or more often than not, out in the front. To a student casually following campus news, Tobia appears to hop effortlessly—and some would say opportunistically—from one cause célèbre to another. But these movements aren’t impulsive. There’s plenty to change about the University at any given moment, so he uses a political calculus to discern which issues are feasible and worthwhile before launching a fullfledged campaign. His formula, which involves gathering a core team to conduct significant behind-thescenes work, puts him in the spotlight for nearly every cause he touches. Tobia and his work have received national exposure on CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Policy Mic, The Nation and more. His high-profile campaigns get him in The Chronicle with high frequency. And his high heels make him hard not to notice walking around campus. There are many leaders who might be well known in their own circles, but Tobia transcends those borders just because he is so visible, said Senior Class President Andrew Hanna. “People know who he is or at least have heard of him,” Hanna said. “You’re bound to run into him.” And it’s effective. On a grand scale, Tobia has been involved in successful efforts to bring gender-neutral housing to Duke, encourage voter turnout for the NC Amendment One referendum, increase transparency with the endowment, add sexual-reassignment surgery to Duke health plans and more. He has also participated in numerous efforts representing black students, Asian and Asian-American students and undocumented students. He put up tents in front of the Chapel to Occupy Duke, and he ran across the Brooklyn Bridge in high-rise pumps to raise money for a shelter for homeless LGBT youth. His long list of accomplishments has given Tobia an elevated position in Duke’s activist community. Students aspiring to make change on campus regularly consult him for advice and mentorship. In a few months time, though, the guru will graduate. His first public failure at Duke was his recent loss of the Young Trustee election to fellow senior Neil Kondamuri. Tobia largely attributes this to the Duke community worrying that, as a queer activist, he would not represent their

Photo by Marie-Claire Bousquette

interests—a sort of subconscious homophobia. Some student leaders worry that Tobia’s celebrity can distract attention from the work that others are doing to make Duke a better place. This piece is not intended to simply give Tobia more press time, but rather to analyze what his celebrity means for him as a leader and for the state of activism at Duke. Nearly everyone knows his name, and his involvement—while not necessary for effecting change at Duke—has become a precious commodity for other campus activists because of his pattern of success. “There’s a lot of recognizable people on this campus,” said freshman activist Zoe Willingham. “There’s not a lot of people who have the brand you might attribute to Jacob.” Activism, Inc. The campaign for gender-neutral housing, Occupy Duke, the Black Student Alliance march to the Allen Building, the “Race is Not a Party” rally, the push for endowment transparency and recent fights to change the name of Aycock residence hall and to get aid for undocumented students. Tobia is there for them all with barely a pause for breath between causes. Being involved in such an array of causes, and with an image that has extended into national media, any failure has the ability to upset his image—particularly as a college student without much experience under his belt. But Tobia has avoided any fall from grace thus far by vigorously vetting ideas so that he can drop a cause that lacks promise of success before taking it to the public phase. An example: about a year ago, he started to explore a campaign for making nuanced changes to the LGBT course offerings at Duke, adding more policy and history classes about queer identity because the Duke sexuality curriculum focuses mainly on theory. But in the exploratory process, though he found a few students who supported the cause, he realized it would be a

complicated message to sell, he would have to navigate faculty politics and it would take more time than it was worth. So he let that idea pass. “It would take so long and so much advocacy for a minor change that matters but doesn’t matter in a way that I was jazzed enough to work on,” Tobia said. “It’s important, yes, but not that important.” When he approaches his peers for advice on an issue, he is not easily deterred when they have concerns on the way he is going about a campaign. Although he said his peers and some of his now-graduated mentors keep him in check, he likes to push back because he sees Duke as his activist laboratory. “What I have to explain to them is that I’ve never really been in this territory before, and I don’t know what I’m doing,” he said. “Your concerns are valid, and I totally have them too, but I want to see what happens. This is a learning experience for me and for other people involved in this campaign.” Then he goes into the research phase. He does not threaten public demonstration yet. His policy is to give students and administrators a proposal that is so well researched and reasoned that they cannot refuse. “I don’t think it’s him being indignant,” said senior Patrick Oathout, who has worked with Tobia in numerous settings since they were neighbors freshman year. “It’s just him having a lot of faith in himself.” When an issue is new to DSG or a public audience, Tobia has already spent significant time with it. This explains why he gives off an air of confidence or infallibility when he becomes the face of a movement. On the surface, Tobia appears to have reached a pinnacle of visibility and attention in his senior year. But in many ways he sees this year as a flop and a breakdown of his formula. In the Fall, he underestimated the time, resources and political capital it would take to TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE


bring transparency to the Duke University endowment. Wrapping tarp over statues and windows and interrupting a Board of Trustees meeting, as well as reaching out to outside media, DukeOpen has been the only cause that he has carried through to the final step of his campaign blueprint—though he was just days away from staging an Allen Building sleep-in over genderneutral housing in his sophomore year. The Board interruption in particular demonstrated his confidence and reluctance to take no for an answer after a campaign is in the public activism stage, possibly to a fault. Before that meeting last October, the Board and President Richard Brodhead indicated that they would approve certain aspects, but not all, of the DukeOpen proposal. This was not enough, and the DukeOpen leaders felt that because they weren’t allowed to deliver the presentation to the Board, their voices were not being heard—even though the group had had multiple meetings with Brodhead, and Tobia has a position as a student representative on the Board’s Business and Finance Committee. On his way to the Board meeting, Tobia stopped by The Chronicle office to find a photographer and reporter to go with him. Interrupting the Board meeting brought them attention, but it did not change the outcome. Tobia said he sometimes thinks his time could have been better spent on a campaign that would have made actual changes. “In many ways I feel that DukeOpen was a

Photo by Abby Farley


“I work on all this stuff because I don’t know how to survive at Duke if Duke isn’t a place where students of all kinds of backgrounds can’t be treated with dignity. So yes, there is a deeply selfish reason for the work that I do.” —Jacob Tobia

failure,” he said. “There were days where I was like, ‘What are we doing? Why are we doing this?’ I had no idea what I was getting into.” He also faced a challenge this Spring when launching his run for Young Trustee. He recognized that the slate of supporters that would typically be large enough to push an advocacy campaign were not going to be enough to win the election. He decided to forgo skirts and lipstick and instead “butch up” his image to prove to the student body that he was conservative enough to sit on the Board. He lost by 12 votes, which—because of his visibility and name recognition—took many by surprise. The Brand “He’s not just an activist,” Oathout said. “He’s sort of a brand.” Although there are plenty of leaders on campus, particularly in the senior class, Tobia’s image and visibility that he has built up over the years make his successes more public than others. Because they see him making change loudly, younger activists look first to Tobia for his advice or endorsement. Tobia agrees that in some ways, his interest in an issue is a political commodity, describing himself as an “easy ally” and a “domino” that is easy to knock over, setting in motion a domino effect that will eventually bring change. Willingham, president of Duke United Students Against Sweatshops, heard of Tobia before she arrived at Duke. When she saw him at the Activities Fair, she recognized him and said she had to meet him. “He became the go-to guy for how to navigate Duke’s bureaucracy and really be able to

reach Duke’s general population and get them fired up,” she said. She said the two of them get together frequently for coffee to talk about her ideas. When asked if there would be a go-to activist mentor if Tobia weren’t here, she replied, “I don’t think so.” For his part, Tobia doesn’t think of himself as indispensable. “I don’t see myself as a gatekeeper,” he said. Although he works on issues from the ground up, Tobia’s most obvious contribution to a cause is his visibility. But some student leaders believe that a campaign doesn’t always need a face. “The issues are so big that it doesn’t really matter much except for being a vehicle for getting the word out,” Hanna said. Although something like DukeOpen and endowment transparency takes a little more work to get students on board because the issue is complicated and not often discussed, Oathout said policy changes like gender-neutral housing would still have happened without Tobia because they are part of a national movement. Hanna said some of the most impactful student work happens behind the scenes; the most effective leaders are not always on everyone’s radar, like Tobia. Regardless, it has created a precedent among many Duke activists, particularly younger ones, that Tobia is a necessary component in an activist campaign. “Ultimately, there needs to be a really loud voice in the room or the person who goes out and does it,” said junior Karina Santellano, president of Mi Gente. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything behind the scenes.” Tobia has recently been involved with the Latino student group, working on passing policies on getting financial aid for undocumented students. He has also personally introduced Mi Gente leaders to other student leaders like former Black Student Alliance President Marcus Benning and DSG President Stefani Jones, both seniors, in order to help them get their own office space, Santellano said. Santellano added that other campus activists can make change by themselves, but bringing Tobia on board gives them a boost. “I feel like they would have momentum, but putting Jacob behind it does get it more attention,” she said. “He is behind so many issues, people take him seriously when it comes to activism.” Blue Devils United President Daniel Kort, a sophomore, said Tobia’s reputation preceded him. When Kort first met Tobia when he returned from his semes-

Photo by Rinzin Dorjee

ter in New York, it was immediately clear why everyone saw him as a powerful activist. “Anytime I have an idea for a new activism project, I immediately want to run it past Jacob,” Kort said, noting that Tobia will often help him form ideas and critique his writing. When Tobia graduates, Kort said he thinks it will be difficult to get ideas off the ground or heard. Tobia will often offer to include himself on emails or in meetings with younger students who have yet to build a rapport with administrators. He said it often helps these less experienced students get more respect and better answers to their questions. “While we respect that Jacob is serving as a mentor to so many people, the fact that Jacob’s name is included doesn’t give it more validity,” Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said. “But it gives us confidence in the issue and that they’ve had good advice.” Benning said he would rather reach out to a wide group of people than Tobia specifically when embarking on a new campaign. He said Tobia is a double-edged sword, because he can bring attention to an issue, but his presence can also distract from the matter at hand. For example, Tobia had planned a walk-out of Founders’ Day Convocation, a well-attended event in Duke Chapel celebrating the 50th anniversary of integration at Duke. The walk-out— which was eventually canceled after Benning approached Tobia with concerns—was intended to raise awareness of DukeOpen. Benning said he commended Tobia for his commitment to his cause but was offended that he would distract from another group’s successes. Sometimes the activist community can be territorial, or outsiders might not understand why Tobia branches out into minority causes other than those pertaining to the queer community, Oathout said. But Tobia and his friends and supporters do not see an activist from one minority community supporting another as a barrier or a way to jump into the spotlight. “I work on all this stuff because I don’t know how to survive at Duke if Duke isn’t a place where students of all kinds of backgrounds can’t be treated with dignity,” Tobia said. “So yes, there is a deeply selfish reason for the work that I do.” He added that he does not deny that he also gets personal satisfaction and professional development out of his work, and it does help to have his successes on his resume. Any student who has ever experienced adversity should be able to draw inspiration from Tobia, Benning noted. Tobia typically draws support from those who are comfortable with their own minority identities, however, rather than the “mainstream” students—possibly leading to his his Young Trustee loss. “He lives his life out loud and in a very transparent way, which produces a certain level of trust between him and the students he’s representing,” Benning said.



Students often talk about struggling with the pressure to be the perfect Duke student, or at least appear like they are. What students don’t talk about, however, is what happens when you inherently can’t meet these standards set by your peers.





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tudents often talk about struggling with the pressure to be the perfect Duke student. They talk about how the competitive environment pushes them to hide their weaknesses, appear put-together yet blasé and avoid vulnerability at all costs. What students don’t talk about, however, is what happens when you inherently can’t meet these standards set by your peers. For students like senior John Broadbent, whose type I Osteogenesis Imperfecta manifests in fragile muscle strength, spinal curvature and a speech impediment, these standards are impossible to attain from the get-go. Although some might see this as a vulnerability, Broadbent has discovered that his disability has liberated him from being tied to these pressures. “I feel it’s a benefit that my disability is out in the open,” he said. “I don’t have to put on airs of perfection, especially at a place like Duke where conformity is often required.” Although he may not strive for what Duke students have defined as “perfect,” Broadbent still has a clear sense of what he expects of himself. “There are still certain standards that I set myself to,” he said. “And these standards are just as lofty as any one else’s.” One can get a taste of Broadbent’s goaldriven persona in his involvement on campus. A classic civilizations major and art history minor, Broadbent previously worked with the Duke

Classical Colloquia and is also in the marching band. During football season he plays the cymbals while during basketball season, he plays both the drum set and bass drum. Broadbent admits, however, that he would not be where he is now without the help of the Student Disability Access Office, calling their role in his college experience absolutely crucial. The SDAO is part of the larger Duke Disability Management System, which provides leadership to the University and University Health System. The SDAO aims not only to provide convenient accommodations and services on campus for 315 students, but also to help them learn about and advocate for their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Tucked away on Oregon Street near the Duke Police Station and the Ronald McDonald house, the SDAO is smaller than one would imagine, given their comprehensive services for undergraduate and graduate students. “Duke is an incredibly able-bodied campus. You see people running, playing Frisbee on the quads and relaxing outside when the weather’s better,” DMS Executive Director Leigh Fickling said. “What you don’t see are people with disabilities doing the same thing. I’m always thinking about how to better integrate my students into campus activity.” Students are required to self-disclose their disabilities if they seek accommodations on campus. Students complete a request form,

“Duke is an incredibly able-bodied campus. You see people running, playing Frisbee on the quads and relaxing outside when the weather’s better. What you don’t see are people with disabilities doing the same thing. I’m always thinking about how to better integrate my students into campus activity.” —Leigh Fickling



dents to come to us themselves,” Fickling said. In order to bring students with disabilities together, Megan Barron, Trinity ’13, co-founded the Duke Disabilities Alliance. In addition to ensuring the enhancement of accessibility, she also realized during her sophomore year that dialogue on race, gender and sexuality had emerged at Duke, but the conversation concerning the disabled experience was absent. “DDA was meant to be two-pronged,” Barron said. “We wanted it to be a student life organization that provided a space for students with disabilities to meet and hang out. We also wanted to provide a voice for the disabled to the administration and bring life to issues that were being unvoiced and unheard.” Collaborating with different student groups such as Duke Student Government, DDA helped prioritize accessibility on campus. In 2012, Barron led a campus walk with sophomore Bryan Dinner, DSG senator of equity and outreach and current president of DDA, and DSG president Stefani Jones, a senior, to illustrate specifically what areas on campus needed improvement. Although DDA provides a strong network for students with disabilities and helps to fill the gap that the SDAO cannot fill, students like Broadbent have opted not to join. “I don’t want to be labeled by an organizawhich the office then collects and reviews to determine eligibility and type of accommodation. Every student is managed case by case: while two students might have the same disability, they could be given different accommodations. Common accommodations include extended test time, minimally distracting environments for tests, assistant technology, note-takers and resident hall room modifications. Unlike many other schools, DMS also has its own Americans with Disabilities Act facilities program director, Dennis Novack, who responds to requests filled out by anyone online to ensure that the campus is accessible for everyone. These developments and relationships are all part of a gradual improvement for the office. Senior Alex Kazandijan, who started his college career in a wheelchair, recalls how challenging his first week at Duke was. “During move-in, I couldn’t actually get into my dorm, Pegram,” he said. “There’s a ramp out back, but I hadn’t been given swipe access, so that took a couple of days to fix.” Kazandijan was also unable to make it to class during his first week due to the absence of an elevator at West Duke. Even after being moved to classes with access to elevators, his experiences inside of the elevators have been more than interesting. “One time I felt like I was just in this broom closet,” he said. “There were brooms and dust pans everywhere. But the best was when there was a pile of coal. To this day, I don’t even know why, but there was just this pile of coal.”



MARCH 2014


ith a staff of only eight members, the SDAO works each day to level the playing field on campus for 315 different undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities. Yet the ratio of staff to student hasn’t always been this staggeringly small. In 2008, Congress passed an amendment for the ADA. This amendment expanded the definition of disabilities to include conditions such as psychological disorders, learning disabilities and chronic health disease, which led the SDAO to face an enormous increase in students who were eligible for their services. “Students who were seeking accommodations [before 2008] may not have been eligible for disability accommodations because their health conditions did not rise to the level of a disability,” Jenni Holt, student disability case management coordinator, said. “With the passing of the Amendments Act, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of eligible students.” Two different types of students seek help from the SDAO, Fickling explained. There are students who have come to terms with their disability over time. Yet others fear that faculty and future employers who might view their disability as a potential stigma. So while 315 seems like an already overwhelming number, Fickling said more students may have eligible disabilities but are unwilling to seek help due to these insecurities. “As much as I would want to walk up to someone with a visible limp or a hearing aid and ask if they need me, we need to rely on the stu-


“One time I felt like I was just in PLAZA this broom closet. There were brooms and dust pans everywhere. But the best was when there was a pile of coal. To this day, I don’t even know why, but there was just this pile of coal.” —Alex Kazandjian

tion for something that I can’t directly control,” Broadbent said. “I feel very strongly about advocating people with disabilities, but being in an organization that identifies itself with having been born with a disability doesn’t seem the most effective to me.” Dinner, who is not disabled himself, chose to lead DDA this year because his experience working with Barron helped him see the importance of advocating for making campus an accessible and safe place for the disabled community. “It’s a worthy cause and I don’t want to see all of the work accomplished by Barron last year go to waste,” Dinner said.


dministrative response has been phenomenal, said members at the SDAO. Given the students’ various disabilities and medical conditions, no two days are ever the same. They need administrators’ full support to

meet all the needs and requests sent to the office. “What you will find here that is also unique to Duke is that there is a strong commitment from the top-down to support students with disabilities,” Fickling said. “When you have the administration’s support, we are able to get more done more effectively.” The SDAO works directly with Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh who also once worked as a special education teacher. Cavanaugh speaks every day to the administration about the challenges that students, visitors and staff with disabilities face, especially with the expansion of the definition of disability. “We are marching honestly toward another crossroads in order to keep up the volume and probably will revisit the topic of resources,” he said. “One of the challenges is that you never know exactly what the volume and the type of situation you may be faced with.”

Despite these challenges, the SDAO’s increased presence has positively impacted the Duke community. “The office serves as a positive catalyst and resource, but I also think it’s the entire Duke community,” Cavanugh said. “Our faculty, staff and other students have become more comfortable with this being a norm and are becoming more embracing of this.” Broadbent also agreed that the SDAO was helping students with disabilities to carve out their experiences and identities at Duke, even if that means having to admit that their struggle is different than students without disabilities. “It’s difficult to get a person to be open about their flaws, especially at Duke,” Broadbent said. “For someone with a disability to feel comfortable doing that just shows that the SDAO is a phenomenal resource willing to work through any problem.” Talking about the disabled experience at Duke is difficult. It’s easy for the lines between respect, offense, political correctness and curiosity to become terribly blurred. Yet the SDAO has worked to improve the lives of the disabled community and help them have the full and complete experience of a Dukie, one small step at a time. “I’ve definitely stopped seeing coal in the elevator,” Kazandijan said, chuckling at the memory. “I hope people next year can say the same.”







y earliest memory is of my first encounter with a Monet. I was barely three at the time. It was a rainy Sunday when my mother caught me finger painting with ketchup on her fancy silk drapes. After a necessary scolding, we were on our way to the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public art museum in the country and also Hartford, Conn.’s only interesting attraction. My mother insisted on nurturing my newfound artistic inclination in a more civilized manner—and what could be more civilized than 19th century French impressionism? The exhibit was of Monet’s Nymphéas series and was absolutely captivating. The Wadsworth’s stark marble atrium suddenly had windows into an immaculate French garden where pastel lilies wore lime tutus as they twirled through swirling seas of azure and indigo. Feathery strokes of cotton candy danced with dense dabs of lavender and hydrangea in a gentle mint breeze. “Aren’t they magical? And no drapes were harmed in the process,” my mother giggled. With that, we left the museum in search of chocolate croissants and some washable paints. y appreciation for art extends beyond Monet and French impressionism. Many credit the early impressionists for truly revolutionizing artistic perceptions and techniques, and I couldn’t agree more. While their sloppy brushstrokes and profound use of color ignited fierce criticism and opposition, the impressionists eventually earned recognition for their “depiction of contemporary subject matter in a suitably innovative style,” as described in Edmond Duranty’s 1876 essay, La Nouvelle Peinture. As the artistic movement expanded,




MARCH 2014

the impressionists paved the way for more radical movements. Cubism, fauvism, surrealism and abstract expressionism have always been my favorites. Perhaps I prefer these art movements because I relate to their imperfections. After that fateful day at the Wadsworth Atheneum, my parents enrolled me in painting lessons. These lessons were fun but far too structured for my unique artistic desires. I vividly recall one class on flowers. First, we learned to draw simple daisies; I failed immediately. I quickly hated painting because nothing I created looked realistic. This trend continued until I was about 13, when my mother took me to yet another Wadsworth exhibit. This one, of Dutch American abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning, was dreamy and surreal. His complex pieces were massive displays of bright colors and puzzling ambiguity; I fell in love. I soon realized that I, too, contribute to this post-impressionism revolution.


uring my semester in Paris, I took a wrong turn while jogging and stumbled upon the Rue Dénoyez, one of the most graffitied streets in Paris. Parisian public art takes on many forms, from the lush Luxembourg Gardens to the striking Eiffel Tower to the countless graffiti masterpieces, but this street in Paris’s Belleville neighborhood boasted the most spectacular street art I had ever seen. I had never seen so much graffiti before, and the organized chaos of the different works reminded me of my love for art. As I meandered past numerous bohemian cafés and intimidatingly stylish young couples, I observed several unassuming artists at work. The masterpieces were vivid, expressive and gorgeous—yet often bittersweet. Many walls were covered with images evocative of political unrest, poverty and racism. A nearby wall held the phrase “le bonheur est trop court,” happiness is too short, while a commanding overhead billboard read “il faut se méfier des mots,” beware of words. Belleville’s public art encouraged me to

investigate the motivations behind such bittersweet graffiti. I learned that Belleville and its bordering suburbs have suffered as a result of French immigration and social policies. After Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962, France experienced a massive influx of North African immigrants. Many claim that the 1970s housing projects were erected to drive these immigrants to the outskirts of the city, where they wouldn’t be at risk of tainting the “real” Parisian culture. I also witnessed quite a few artistic expressions of “l’affaire du voile,” the veil affair. Since 1989, the French “Laïcité,” or secularism law, has been manipulated to prevent Islamic females from wearing a traditional headscarf in many public places. As a result, hundreds of girls have been expelled from French schools for wearing the headscarf. While France is a secular nation, these policies inhibit religious freedom, personal expression and the right to education. ast-forward one year, and my newfound interest in the intersection of human rights and public art led me to the Duke Immerse


program on human rights in the Americas. The program included a two-week trip to Chile, in addition to various excursions across North Carolina and community projects in Durham. I remember the first day of class, when I quickly realized that I was one of the only students who didn’t speak Spanish. My classmates told inspiring testimonies of tumultuous journeys to America as an undocumented immigrant, life as a Tibetan refugee with no nationality and of personal ties with Latin America. Almost all of my classmates spoke of racial identity struggles, but I thought, “I’m white and I’ve never really questioned my identity. Does this make me shallow?” Despite the language barrier and my mild identity crisis, Chile was incredible. Upon landing in Santiago, I discovered a vibrant, beautiful city. My favorite part of Santiago is, unsurprisingly, its public art. The graffiti is on par with that of Belleville in both aesthetics and content. Santiago’s public art movement began when the multidisciplinary art collective, Colectivo TOWERVIEW MAGAZINE


Acciones de Arte, was founded in 1979. CADA used the city as an art medium for collective work. CADA founders highlighted the effects of the Pinochet dictatorship on the country, which homogenized the country’s social and political landscapes. In addition to the more than 30,000 people tortured, about 3,000 people died and another 1,000 are still missing. This fear repressed all traditional means of public political discourse, but CADA methods were extremely ambiguous and encouraged conversation and questioning without direct political statements. y encounter with today’s Chilean public art began with a man named Andres, whom I met in a grungy Santiago bar. The bar, oddly called Harvard, was packed with quirky, suspicious-looking characters. Over a few watery pisco-and-cokes, Andres and I discussed his artistic motivations. A few years earlier, he was pursuing a psychology degree until economic hardships forced him to leave school. Andres explained his desire to support the education movement, but faced one problem: fear. During his first student protest, he said Santiago police attacked many students and provoked a stampede. Andres was trampled, suffered several broken ribs, and understandably vowed never again to attend a protest. As such, he supported the movement in a safer way, through art. I never saw Andres’s works, but he described them as abstract, cheerful depictions of his hopes for Chile’s education system. Andres


explained that many artists turn to Santiago’s streets because apartments are often cramped and gallery spaces expensive. He joked that the city’s formal museums are useless because the best exhibits are always open and always free. y first realization upon returning to Durham was that it felt colorless. Just like Paris and Santiago, Durham is steeped in a history of racism, economic struggle and inequality. Why is it that Paris and Santiago are laden with impactful art, whereas it seems like Durham isn’t? Durham isn’t a cosmopolitan capital city, but it’s home to one of the best universities in the world and so, at a minimum, it’s a significant intellectual hub. In fact, most of Durham’s few— but exceptional—public art exhibitions were not created by individuals, but by institutions. A great example of this is the Pauli Murray Project. In collaboration with the Duke Human Rights Center, the Pauli Murray Project is a community-based effort to commemorate and proliferate the goals and values of civil and human rights advocate Pauli Murray. The project has created murals throughout the city to honor Murray’s


achievements. These murals are one of few formal reminders that issues like racism still exist in Durham. Peter Coyle, Durham’s Cultural Master Plan Coordinator, described the complicated bureaucracy in place for evaluating and approving all of Durham’s public art projects. Even when the committee approves a public art project proposal, Durham residents have an opportunity for input. The committee holds public forums for these pieces and often, when residents live near the art’s proposed location, they


tend to be especially invested in the decision. In 2012, the Durham Public Art Committee awarded local artist, Brenda Miller Holmes, a grant for a public mural project on Durham’s civil rights history. While Miller Holmes has been planning this project since 2012, historic preservation regulations made it challenging for her to find a suitable location for the mural. The county approved plans Feb. 10 for the mural to be painted on the west wall of the Durham Convention Center. The location is awaiting approval by the city government as it

is jointly owned by city and county. Unfortunately, these complications are not surprising. Earlier in the semester, Duke Immerse partnered with the Two Way Bridges Program to create a public mural recognizing Durham’s undocumented population. Special events coordinator Miguel Rojas Sotelo described the dilemma as a challenge. “Initial talks with Brightleaf Square building owners gave us hope to have the mural on Main Street,” Sotelo said. “Unfortunately, they [backed] out after learning of the topic.” Another site, the sidewall of Francesca’s Dessert Caffe, was later secured, but the same process reoccurred. Conversations were not advancing for placing murals at Torero’s Mexican Restaurant, but when artists, students and community members approached the restaurant with materials ready, they accepted the proposal. By the following Monday, however, the management of Brightleaf Square argued that the mural’s content was political and inappropriate for the site. Although eventually the mural was finished, arguments and a series of administrative rules proved to be an obstacle for their work. A vibrant public art scene is undoubtedly conducive to a community’s well-being. It gives a voice to the voiceless; it draws visitors to different parts of cities; it gets people talking. In fact, I am the perfect example of why public art is so important. If Belleville wasn’t plastered in such striking graffiti, I would be one more person living in ignorance. If I hadn’t bumped into

Andres, I would certainly know much less about Chilean education reform. Public art raises awareness on issues that are often ignored. Prior to Fall 2013, I knew little about Durham’s undocumented population. The mural controversy, however, shows that the issue is alive and heated. These human rights abuses are going to keep happening unless we do something—and what better way to start than with more public art?

“A vibrant public art scene is undoubtedly conductive to a community’s well-being. it gives a voice to the voiceless; it draws visitors to different parts of cities; it gets people talking.” —Chelsea Sawicki



PATSY DELACEY, junior “We did dirty black tenting last year and had to really quickly put together our structure. Our engineering friends went out there and were trying to use PVC pipes to make arches and we taped together trash bags to use as a cover. It fell about three times when we were sleeping that night, so we kept waking up almost every hour to fix our tent. It was much better when we had a real tent.”

the inquisitor ARIHANT JAIN, sophomore “Last year when we tented out for the Miami game, for the first two days we weren’t allowed a tent and it was raining, so we had to sleep out in the rain.”


FEDNER LAUTURE, junior “Last year because there were so many black tenters we had to make our own tent. My tent was two tables and a blue tarp over the tables, and to give it some altitude we had cinder blocks on the tables. To say that it rained that night would be an understatement. Oh god, it poured.”

“Someone jumped on my tent in the last two days of tenting and they broke it. It was a drunk person. We kind of fixed it but it was a $300 tent that someone had lent to us.”


TENTING what is your

horror story

Photo by Darbi Griffith

SHANNON MOYER, sophomore

corinne may, sophomore

“I was sitting in the tent alone probably around 8:30 PM while it was 26 degrees. It only had to drop one more degree for grace to be called, and the temperature just wasn’t dropping. Anyway, I was so cold, so I called my parents to talk to them to pass the time and hoped that the temperature would drop one more degree. I’m talking to them and they are super worried because of hypothermia and sickness and death and whatnot. My parents were freaking out and said, ‘Get inside, are you crazy?’ I said I couldn’t because of tent checks. So long story short: my dad called the campus police because his daughter was cold.”

“I whitetented last year with my roommate’s tenting group. I had a paper due the next day and I had to sleep over in the tent as well. So I brought my computer over into the tent, and I was typing it up, and after five minutes my fingers literally stopped moving because they were numb. I couldn’t type my paper.”

JACK SCHAPIRO, sophomore “Last year, during blue tenting, there was a big storm and a lot of rain. We had grace for a day and half straight while it was raining, and Kville was getting kind of flooded. By the time we came back, most of the tents were still fine, but our tent had collapsed and a lot of water had gotten in. The poles had broken, so we duct-taped the poles back and it kind of just slouched. It was pretty bad.”



MARCH 2014


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Towerview March 2014  

The March issue of Towerview highlights 10 springtime traditions at Duke, as well as a writer's perspective on being a Third Culture Kid.