TOWERVIEW OCTOBER 2012
seeking refuge behind the gates of durhamâ€™s homeless shelters Bus Stop: Laboratory love +
BaCK from london: OLYMPIANS Return to campus +
THE LONGEST SPRING: STORIES FROM THE MIDDLE EAST +
A NOTE From the Editors
the chronicle’s news & Culture maga zine
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Matthew Chase and Sonia Havele PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Addison Corriher Melissa Yeo Chris Cusack Ciaran O’Connor Nicole Kyle Yeshwanth Kandimalla
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Maggie Love, Samantha Brooks, Michael Shammas, Ashley Mooney, Andrew Kragie CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Jisoo Yoon, Faith Robertson, Chelsea Pieroni, Philip Catterall, Rita Lo, Brianna Siracuse CONTRIBUTING STAFF Jamie Bando GENERAL MANAGER ADVERTISING DIRECTOR CREATIVE DIRECTOR OPERATIONS MANAGER DIGITAL SALES MANAGER
Chrissy Beck Rebecca Dickenson Barbara Starbuck Mary Weaver Megan McGinity
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 101 West Union Building, call (919) 684-3811 or fax (919) 684-8295. Contact the advertising office for information on subscriptions. Visit The Chronicle and Towerview online at dukechronicle.com 2010 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.
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Dear readers, Flipping through this issue, you may notice a peculiar theme. The content is diverse, even typical: student reflections, science, sports and politics. But the perspectives are cohesive. That is, they are almost exclusively profiles: a lens into the 50-year-long marriage and research career of two of Duke’s most notable scientists; stories of three students from the Middle East, some of whom have been deeply affected by the events occurring across the Atlantic; and an in-depth feature about the lives of Durham’s homeless—just to name a few. We would be lying if we said this happened intentionally, because it didn’t. Towerview is unique in that our writers craft and pitch their own stories. Usually, diversity happens organically—a creative reflection here, a news feature there. For this issue, our writers seemed to want to tell other peoples’ stories instead of their own. So we let them. The result of this flexibility is a publication that is by no means homogenous. The stories of this issue’s cast of characters take place on Science and Research Drives, on the streets of downtown Durham and in the hearts and minds of many members of the Duke community. The formats are diverse, as well; while many of these profiles were penned by our staff writers, one of our newest writers expresses his personal voice, quite creatively, in the very back of these pages. There is something to be said about a journalistic profile; rarely does someone have the opportunity to have his or her story told and circulated across a college campus. And the process of profile-writing is a daunting one. Relying on encounters—often brief personal meetings or mere phone conversations—can make it difficult for writers to truly shed light on a personality. But these profiles serve a vital purpose, not just in our publication, but in our lives. As students who can so easily become wrapped up in the daily grind of college life—be it job-hunting, trying to get involved on campus, or simply keeping up with academic demands—it is important to be reminded of other people’s paths, that the world as we know it is microcosmic and that lessons can be learned everywhere and from the least likely of people. In addition to just being fun to read, profiles of other people can also help us better understand ourselves. We hope those of you reading will familiarize yourselves with the personalities featured in the October 2012 issue of Towerview, drawing knowledge, widsom and even laughter from their stories.
OCT 2012 • VOL. 14 • issue 2
Blah dee blah bee bhad yo
what that talk yo walk like THE PLAZA
Meet the Richardsons: A love of science and the science of love ALSO +A local star tup learns to work out of the world’s smallest office (p.6)
that yo the Youth Vote: Getting ALSO +Blue Devils return to campus post-Olympics Dems expect it, but is it the (p.12) future of the Republican Par ty?
FEATURES 26 CAMPUS Professor Brian Hare unravels the minds of man’s closest relatives and closest friends BY ASHLEY MOONEY
20 CITY Stories of homelessness and hope in the streets and shelters of Durham
A self-professed “Latinophile” talks about race, determination and adversity
BY SAMANTHA BROOKS
ON THE COVER Towerview goes behind the gates of several local homeless shelters
16 BEYOND As the Arab Spring unfolds, Duke students cope with its effects far from home BY MIKE SHAMMAS
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story by SONIA HAVELE • photos by RITA LO
tructural biology is a typically unromantic story. Few would compare the molecular structures of proteins and nucleic acids to the feelings we associate with love: affection, beauty, mystery and more. Yet, somehow, biophysicists Jane and Dave Richardson have integrated their love for learning, nature, art and most touchingly, each other, into their research and laboratory space at Duke University. The two have been married and collaborating on research together for nearly 50 years. “We do complement each other,” Dave said, as he tried to articulate how two people—let alone spouses—can work so well together for almost half a decade. “But I think the real key is that we both have the same sense of what’s fun, so the level of the way we get engrossed in an idea or doing something is very compatible.” The Richardson Lab is tucked away, hidden among several laboratories on the first floor of the Nanaline H. Duke Building on Research Drive. Although the building is wellknown to those in the biochemistry department and related fields, nonscientists at Duke have probably never heard of it. Hanging outside their laboratory is a nontraditional, though colorful, art exhibit. Nine canvas prints of squiggly lines and curves have been arranged across a 5-footwide wall space. Jane explains that the images, fastened to the wall by her husband Dave, are photographic re4 | TOWERVIEW
productions of just a few of the many protein and RNA structures their lab has studied over the years. When the couple began their research into the 3-D structures of proteins at MIT, 50 years ago, only three were known. Today, thanks to the development of new technologies and databases, there are more than 83,000 recorded structures. Although their work may be sophisticated, Jane explained that most people can understand it simply through the geometric and visual components. “We have discovered that a meaningful scientific illustration carries an aesthetic with it, because even to the uninitiated, it implies meaning,” Dave said. “Even in a textbook or a paper, they are not just splotches of color—there’s something more there.” Jane is most famous for her “ribbon diagrams” of protein structures, which were first published in 1981. These drawings, which she spent more than a year learning how to make, are now done by computer graphics, have become a standard way of visualizing protein structures and are depicted in virtually every biology and biochemistry textbook. Her original drawing of the protein triose phosphate isomerase, colored in browns and greens, is the focal point in her office and was even a Picture of the Day on Wikipedia. “It’s very much like a good painting,” Dave added. “It draws you into it, and you can see sense to it. Un-
derstanding it that way and seeing that so much of our work lends itself to that is why it’s fun to have people come visit our lab and look at all the models and pictures.” The lab itself is an artist’s dream— the general workspace is triangular in shape; black, plastic beams arch over staff desks; modern, architectural models stand above tall, metal file racks; drawings, paintings and photographs hang and rest all across the lab. Some of the aesthetics are scientific structures, while others are more scenic—mountain landscapes and exotic flowers are subtle testaments to their nature-filled childhoods and mutual love for the outdoors. “We love taking pictures,” Jane said. “Either of our work or of mountains and flowers, because we like hiking. We’re not experts, but it’s really fun, and trying to identify things is really interesting.” As they describe in draft pages of their co-authored memoir, Jane and Dave grew up on the outskirts of big cities—New York and Philadelphia, respectively—which gave them dual access to woods and streams as well as science and art museums. The couple met during their freshman year at Swarthmore College, when Dave began bringing his lunch to the physics library where Jane often spent her afternoons. Although Jane studied philosophy and Dave studied chemistry, the two thrived in the intellectual environment and picturesque surroundings. After graduating in 1962, the couple moved to Boston where they attended graduate school—Jane at Harvard and Dave at MIT. The Richardsons were married in 1963 on Groundhog Day. “We’d been going out all through college, and we definitely wanted to go to the same place for graduate school,” Jane said. “Sometime during our first year in Boston, we started asking ourselves whether we should get married and realized that it wasn’t really a question, and so we did that a few weeks later.” It was in Boston that the couple first worked together. Dave had
joined a chemistry lab at MIT, where he began researching protein crystal structure. Up the Charles River, Jane soon discovered that the philosophy department at Harvard specialized in areas different from her own interests, and she decided to leave the graduate program with a master’s degree after one year. Following an attempt to teach high school science—which she describes as a complete disaster— Jane joined her husband’s project as a technician, a “synergistic combination” that began their long-standing careers as research and life partners. “Jane never got her Ph.D.,” Dave said. “But the people who met Jane really were impressed. When we interviewed at Duke, they also were impressed and managed to wangle a position in the astronomy department for her, because there was a nepotism rule [within the same department] at the time.” In their early years Duke, Jane was “invisible,” they both say, which meant she could pursue her own research interests without much oversight. During this period, she published several single-author papers to which Dave actually contributed. This was important to her rise in the field, as it was notoriously difficult for women to publish during that era. “I was the one people interviewed during those years,” Dave laughed. “And then the world discovered Jane.” The couple emphasizes the fact that they are, and have always been, collaborators, not competitors; they have always hated competitive sports. Their lab, too, reflects a senti-
I think the real key is that we both have the same sense of what’s fun. -Dave Richardson
ment of collaboration—they work with a number of other research groups, and their students interact and work together on multiple projects. “It’s harder now than it used to be, because these days people are really hung up on who did exactly what, “ Jane said. “But that’s what we’ve been trying to get people to realize—it’s really the both of us.” Over the course of the interview, it was impossible to forget that the Richardsons are a team in every sense of the word. In fact, this piece was intended to only feature Jane, who insisted that it would not be complete without her husband and counterpart. “A lot of people say that they couldn’t possibly [work with their spouses] and that it would be horrible, which they may be right about for them. But I think you would find that out very soon, and there would be no middle ground.” Completing Jane’s thought, Dave added, “We like each other a lot.” n
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think small The clatter of plates, customers placing their orders, babbling babies and jazz music. These are not the typical sounds one associates with an office environment, perhaps with the exception of entrepreneurs, who are known for their flexibility. One such entrepreneur, Krista Anne Nordgren, runs her business out of a 30 sq.-ft. space in the front window of Beyu Caffe in downtown Durham. Stares from curious passersby have become routine for the small business’ employees. Beyu Caffe provided the space as part of a national competition— known as “The Smoffice” (origin, “small office”) of entrepreneurs sponsored by the Durham Chamber of Commerce. Nordgren and her sisters, Brita and Sarah Rose, 6 | TOWERVIEW 6 TOWERVIEW
beat out more than 20 other startups with their pitch for The Makery, for which they raised over $4,500 on Kickstarter, a “crowd funding” site that helps project developers finance creative ideas. The sisters have worked in the rent-free office since May 1. Beginning this week, The Makery started selling four pieces of North Carolina art each week. “The Makery has two missions. One is to help people in North Carolina discover all the things that are being made around them,” said Nordgren, a North Carolina native. She added that it is important “to help artists showcase their work to the community.” Featured artists will include Leo Gaev, a Carrboro metalworker, designer Michelle Smith and sculptor
Startup takes over world’s smallest office By Maggie Love Sarah West of Raleigh. The business already showcases the work of Makery employee Whitney Robinson. “I’m wearing her earrings right now,” Nordgren says laughing, fingering hoop earrings wrapped in repurposed white leather. Upon glancing at the yellow flower posts in the office, she added that they are also Robinson’s handiwork. A 2008 Duke graduate with a major in computer science, Robinson joined The Makery as a web developer. She also makes and sells leather accessories on her website, Freshly Given. “This is definitely like a selftaught MBA. But it’s nice because it’s kind of like the ‘fail-fast’ model—if something messes up we quickly learn from that, and we can move forward,” Robinson said.
Nordgren noted that her artis- Makery would like to work with tic background has been helpful in Duke students. The Makery will reside in the picking up business skills. She studSmoffice until Oct. 31. In the meanied creative writing at Knox College time, the company in Illinois, where she continues to expand— graduated in May. Having a the sisters recently “Having a business is hired an intern from all about having ideas business is all Knox and are seekand figuring out really ing other applicants fast what works and about having from North Carolina. what doesn’t work, and ideas and figurUltimately, Nordgren you have to do that as an artist, whether it’s ing out really fast said, they hope their company will spread writing, dance,” she said. “My oldest sister what works and across the nation, with each state’s webis a poet, my middle what doesn’t site showcasing local sister is a visual artist, artists. and I think we all came work... “But we would from that perspective definitely keep goof generating ideas ing with North Caroand seeing as fast as we can what is successful lina and see that as our home base,” Krista and what doesn’t ring said. “I’ve been so impressed by the true,” Nordgren said. The entrepreneurial spirit also community here and how collabruns in the family. The sisters’ fa- orative it is, and how people really ther, Carl Nordgren, is a professor just are excited about what you’re of markets and management stud- doing in a way that I’ve never seen ies at Duke. Krista noted that The anywhere else.” n
-Krista Anne Nordgren
PHOTOS BY FAITH ROBERTSON
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WINNING THE YOUTH VOTE The image is stark: A male college student returns to his childhood bedroom, cluttered with packed boxes, high school trophies rimmed with dust and a nowrarely-used electric guitar. Like most of the room, the baby blue walls haven’t changed much, except for one image that now seems to stand out. The poster is half blue and half red, encouraging its onlooker to focus on the man smiling in the middle of the image. But something about the poster has changed in the time that this student has spent at university—maybe it’s the fading colors and encroaching yellowish tint, the paper’s curled edges or the slogan posted at the bottom of the poster: “Change We Can Believe In.” Fazed by the prospect of living at home post-graduation, the student removes the Barack Obama poster from the wall. This image, characterized in vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention, is the Democratic Party’s worst nightmare and the one that Republicans want to replicate across college campuses. Mentions of the importance of young voters at the RNC were few and far between with the exception of Ryan’s allusion to a college grad “staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when
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they can move out and get going with life,” but the image has underscored the important, yet potentially different, role that young voters might play come November. “[Ryan’s comment] almost seemed to be as if it were designed to be tweeted and designed to be ‘Facebookable’ and galvanized,” said junior Daniel Strunk, who attended the RNC in Tampa, Fla. For Democrats, 2008 was the year of the youth vote, when two out of every three voters under 30 supported President Barack Obama, not only providing the historic candidate with the votes necessary to clinch a victory but energizing the base of his campaign. Four years later, polls suggest that enthusiasm might be fading as college students become more weary of economic stability and employment and less concerned about the social issues that have traditionally made college campuses beacons of progressive action. North Carolina’s young voters find themselves in the dead center of this confusing mix. Despite the state’s lean toward Obama four years ago, Republicans have had an impressive comeback. In 2010, Republicans regained control of the state General Assembly for the first time in more than a century, and Romney cur-
rently maintains a notable lead over Obama. Yet just under a month ago, more than 30,000 Obama enthusiasts descended on the state to refine the Democratic platform, giving Obama a slight bump in the polls. However, it remains to be seen whether young Democrats will generate state support for Obama—as they did in 2008— or if the Republican Party, which has rarely boasted youth support, will use the economy to appeal to young voters and return the state to its longstanding red tradition.
Slipping Support? An Elon University and Charlotte Observer poll conducted on the heels of the Democratic National Convention suggests that the days of strong Obama support among youth voters are long gone. Among 18- to 30-yearold voters polled, 36 percent reported that they were “very excited” about voting in the upcoming election—the lowest amount of support of any age group polled. Support for Obama among this age demographic is still high, with 58 percent of likely voters in North Carolina age 30 and under supporting Obama versus 34 percent supporting Mitt Romney. But these figures represent a significant drop in support from the 2008 election cycle and ap-
ASE pear to be representative of a national trend among college students. According to an online Harvard Institute of Politics survey, Obama only maintains a 12-point lead over Romney among voters ages 18 to 24, a lead that is sizable but only half of what Obama’s lead is among 25- to 29-year-olds. Moreover, many polls indicate that younger voters are more likely to be undecided and less likely to turn out to polling stations. The reasoning for the notable shift in voter allegiance likely lies in two key issues—the economy and unemployment. National unemployment in August was 8.1 percent, a sharp increase from the 6.1 percent unemployment rate in August 2008. With North Carolina’s unemployment rate consistently hovering above the national rate, job creation could be a more important issue among young voters in the state. In fact, the economy has formed the base of the Republican strategy to increase support for Romney among younger voters. “The focus is tailored toward the economy,” said Strunk, a Chronicle columnist and the college manager of North Carolina Young Americans for Romney. “That’s the best strategy, and it’s the right strategy because that’s what voters should care about.”
knowledged that a greater emphasis on people his age might have been nice but does not make much political sense. With the exception of Ryan’s address, the junior political science major said that none of the speeches appeared to be targeted at exciting the youth vote. “The DNC will have that, and the reason is that the youth has historically been an overwhelming voting block that has supported the Democrats,” he said. “Every speech has an opportunity cost.” But if Republicans were to expand their base, Strunk acknowledged that overcoming the emphasis college students place on social issues would prove difficult. Duke students don’t need much of a reminder of this fact— political activity opposing the state’s constitutional amendment to limit the types of recognized domestic unions was high only a few months ago. Durham County was one of few North Carolina counties that voted against Amendment One. Of the 4,061 people who voted at the Duke polling station, 3,847—95 percent—voted against it. And even though the election’s result wasn’t a victory for many on campus, the primary encouraged many out-of-state students to register in North Carolina and set a precedent for high voter turnout on campus. Increased participation in the presidential election may have a notable impact on the outcome of state races, as well, especially with more students registered in the state. Though some have criticized Duke students for being politically apathetic, Jameel seemed confident that many out-of-state students would remain registered in the state given that its outcome is still up in the air. As a Democrat, Jameel was hopeful that Dukies would even pay attention to state politics. “I think that a lot of people are very unhappy with the North Carolina General Assembly in the two years that Republicans have been in charge. They have cut North Carolina’s investment in the future, and I think a lot of people are caring about that deeply.... They see the local impact and how it directly relates to their daily lives.” n
PHOTOS BY CHELSEA PIERONI
Using Conventions as a Rallying Point But these statistics don’t seem to faze Democrats. “The numbers that I look at are: How many people are registering to vote? How many people are volunteering? And on those things, we are seeing excitement that is as high as it was in ‘08—exceeding room capacity,” said senior Elena Botella, current College Democrats of North Carolina President and former president of Duke Democrats. Indeed, if the Democratic National Convention is any indication, youth support for Obama may be rising. A historic number of young Democrats from North Carolina—defined as anyone under age 36—attended this year’s convention. The North Carolina Democratic Party set a goal of 19 youth delegates at the convention— determined by affirmative action—but a total of 32 youth delegates and four youth alternates were ultimately approved, setting a record for the state. Of those young delegates, six were college students, including Botella from Duke, representing schools that literally span the state. The North Carolina GOP did not release its delegates’ age or ethnicity information. “I think you’ll still see a lot of enthusiasm for the president,” said senior Firoz Jameel, who attended the DNC as a part of his current position on Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton’s campaign for state governor. Though he understands the source of some college students’ frustrations with Obama, Jameel doubts that there will be a notable shift in allegiance when students turn out to vote. “I think it always takes longer to build back than it does to take down support,” he added. However, the Republican Party’s emphasis on young voters seems to pale in comparison to that of the Democrats—which may be part of party strategy. Beyond Ryan’s mention of a 20-something disappointed with Obama’s policies, the attention of the Republican National Convention was not heavily geared toward encouraging youth participation, Strunk noted. As a college student, Strunk ac-
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Convention, From Within An intern’s reflection on the Democratic National Convention
By Addison Corriher
he building at 301 East 9th St. is inconspicuous. Two blocks off of Charlotte’s main street, the space is a balance between an old warehouse and an abandoned office space. Loading docks in the back of the building have been plastered closed and carpet has been ripped up in the office area, and a sticky layer of adhesive from the old carpet cements our chairs to the floor.
This was the location of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Host Committee Volunteer Headquarters and my temporary home during the weeks leading up to the convention. Sixteen-thousand volunteers, including interns like myself, worked all across Charlotte for more than three months to organize the early September event and prepare the Time Warner Cable Arena for the thousands of delegates, media representatives and
honored guests who would soon arrive. Our purpose was to make Charlotte seem like the best city in the world, if only for one week. On the second day of the convention, a middle-aged black woman marched into Volunteer Headquarters. She wore an elaborate, floorlength dress of deep red, burnt orange and gold and introduced herself to me as Harlem’s Queen Mother. She stood squarely in front of me, stretched her
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hands onto my shoulders and looked deep into my eyes. She explained that she had seen Michelle Obama speaking on television the night before and felt she needed to do something more to serve her country. “This is not the time to sit on the couch and wait,” she said. So she bought a plane ticket from New York and arrived at the convention in Charlotte the next day. Harlem’s Queen Mother, otherwise known as Delois Blakely and Ambassador of Goodwill to Africa, was just one of the thousands of volunteers who helped make the convention possible, in more than one way. More important than the physical tasks they completed each day was the energy and inspira-
tion they spread across Charlotte. “I am here to serve, tell me what to do,” Blakely said. These were the kinds of statements that inspired me and helped make my often-tiring job a little easier. The most amazing part was that she asked nothing in return, except for a chance to make a difference. Although volunteer efforts are essential to the convention’s success, they are also the most overlooked part of the production. Volunteers are the silent army of helpers who dedicate countless hours, weeks and even months to ensure that the convention flows effortlessly for the thousands onsite and millions watching on televi-
sion. I was immersed in and energized by an assembly of passionate people; groups chanted, “Fired up! And Ready to Go!” throughout the convention. Their dedication was more than just inspiring—it was contagious. In this environment, even three hours of sleep per night could not slow me down. Surviving on pure emotion and excitement is not sustainable longterm, but the experience was truly extraordinary. The people I met and the rush I felt from accomplishing something that required such an enormous collective effort was unlike anything I had ever experienced and can only be found in places of immeasurable inspiration. n
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TOWERVIEW | 11
from the board to the books Senior Abby Johnston and junior Nick McCrory made waves in London this summer as the latest Dukeaffiliated athletes to medal in the Olympic Games. Johnston, who won a silver medal in synchronized 3-meter springboard diving, and McCrory, a bronze medalist in synchronized 10-meter platform diving, describe medaling as the culmination of their athletic careers: the result of early mornings, physical therapy sessions and a diving schedule of more than 25 hours per week. Johnston and McCrory helped earn the United States its first Olympic diving medals in 12 years. The moment that Johnston realized she and her partner, Kelci Bryant, had won silver remains a blur. “I just ran over to Kelci my partner, hugged her and started yelling, ‘We did it! We did it!’” she said, noting that the victory did not fully sink in until she was standing on the podium. “The dream had become a reality.” Disbelief, relief and a sheer sense of “wow” were the three emotions running through McCrory’s mind when he and his partner, David Boudia, realized he had won the bronze medal. “It was such an amazing moment,” McCrory said. “It took days to set in... that I had actually did it. Four years in between and anything can happen.”
Duke in the Olympics 12 | TOWERVIEW 12 TOWERVIEW
text by NICOLE KYLE photos by MELISSA YEO
Both Johnston and McCrory are grateful for the opportunities this summer’s Olympics presented. Johnston cites the opening ceremonies as one of her favorite moments outside the competition. “You start in the village and as a country walk together to the stadium,” she said. “To be surrounded by all of these elite athletes that you’re used to seeing on TV—it was very cool. When we were walking, we started spontaneously cheering ‘USA! USA!’ It gave me chills.” McCrory said he went into the Olympics simply trying to do his best. “I would say being at the Olympics, it’s the definitive [moment] of your career, but it doesn’t change who you are,” he said. “I tried to do my best and have a good performance—medaling was kind of an afterthought.” Olympic dreams caused the athletes to put their Duke careers aside, though they trained on campus. Johnston did not take classes at Duke this Spring and took a reduced courseload Fall 2011. McCrory took off all of the 2011-2012 academic year. But now that the games are over, Johnston and McCrory are focusing on classes. Both Johnston and McCrory are pre-med, majoring in psychology and mathematics, respectively. “It’s been a bit challenging,” Johnston said of the adjustment back to school life. “I am just happy to be back on campus.” McCrory is similarly transitioning back into the dual role of student-athlete. “Right now, I’m really focused on school,” he said.
“My first two years here, everything was very divingoriented. Now, I feel like for the first time, I have a chance to give school all of my attention and strike a balance that’s a little bit more shifted toward my schoolwork. That being said, I’m still going to try to have a great season for Duke.” Once the first semester winds down, Johnston and McCrory will return to Duke swimming and diving. Johnston’s goal is to win another NCAA championship. McCrory is on a break from training, but he said he resumes training in about a month. The junior has two more years of NCAA eligibility and says “he is looking forward to it.” Are another Olympic Games in this duo’s future? It is not out of the realm of possibility, they both said. “I want to go to medical school and that would put my life on hold for another year, so we’ll see,” Johnston said. McCrory faces a similar choice. “The next Olympics is four years way, which is a long time, but at the same time, the decision will make a difference in how I train now,” he said. n
ONLINE How Duke coaches led the dream team to gold—again
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Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe leaves the field after the teamâ€™s 50-13 loss at Stanford Sept. 8. FAITH ROBERTSON
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Spring story by MIKE SHAMMAS photos by MELISSA YEO
early two years after its inception, the Arab Spring rages on. Children are dying. Regimes are crumbling. Families are failing. Faced with this reality, first and second generation Middle Eastern immigrants at Duke are left to wonder what is happening to their homelands. Although they live in Durham, they are casualties of events taking place a world away. The effects of Arab Spring protests still linger in Yemen; another intifada—Arabic for “uprising”—has not yet come to the Palestinian territories, but it may; and though the rebels are gaining traction in Syria, the conflict there does not seem likely to end anytime soon. With so many different interpretations of the various protests, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. It can be even harder to decipher who is right in conflicts that feature so many clashing worldviews. In some cases, including that of Farris Martini, a Duke
Law student from Syria, families living in the United States fracture along strict sectarian lines that mirror those of conflicts raging back home. “The conflict has definitely taken a toll on some familial relationships,” he said. “My father is very active in the opposition and has become essentially estranged from some of his family members who support the regime. His father passed away a couple of months ago, and the unfortunate irony is that my father…would normally have been there during his last days.” After Martini’s maternal grandfather was interrogated by the Assad regime, his mother’s immediate family fled Syria. Martini’s maternal grandmother had to leave her mother behind, who died shortly thereafter. Like many other Syrians, Martini’s family has had to deal with the terrifying prospect of being kidnapped by Bashar al-Assad’s hired thugs, known as shabiha. The paramilitary group has inspired fear in the hearts of Syrians by snatching
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Assad’s political opponents away from their homes at night. Often, these people never return. Even those who make it back are rarely the same. “The shabiha apparently wanted to kidnap my dad’s brother and hold him for ransom, [so] my uncle had to leave his family for a while,” Martini said. In addition to worrying about his civilian relatives, Martini also worries about his young cousin, who is currently finishing up his mandatory service in the Syrian military. Though the Arab Spring protests that started in Yemen in January 2011 led to the overthrow of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the uprising also hit close to home for sophomore Safa al-Saeedi, who is from Yemen. The uprisings were a source of great emotional unrest and anxiety for al-Saeedi and her family. As a power struggle between rival tribes intensifies, the country’s political future is far from certain. “I was not able to go [home] in the summer of 2011 because of the instability and the events related to the revolution,” she said. “My family had to move from the capital to a different city seeking a safer and a more stable place. My cousin who is only 20 years old was shot
in the protest in Taiz City.” Though international press coverage of protest activity in Taiz has not been as extensive as that of other Arab Spring protests, the city—often referred to as the “heart of Yemen’s revolution”—has been plagued by violence in recent months, even following Saleh’s signing of a transition plan in November of last year. Although Al-Saeedi supported the protests against Saleh—whom she calls an “arrogant and corrupt dictator”— she worries that the Arab Spring has not yet made any significant gains for the health of Yemeni liberal democracy. “At the moment, I do not think I can say [the situation] is good. I went to Yemen this summer, and I felt miserable of what the situation has gotten into,” she recalled. On the other hand, there has been a marked lack of protests in the Gaza Strip, making the experience far less stressful for junior Ahmed Alshareef, a Palestinian from the region. Unlike Martini and al-Saeedi, Alshareef’s homeland has not been embroiled in violence as a result of the Arab Spring. Alshareef is confident that the lack of widespread of violence will continue in his homeland—that protests against either Hamas or Israel are unlikely. “An uprising against Hamas won’t happen because it is the only power in Gaza keeping control,” he said. Because common people are grateful for the social services that Hamas provides, including police forces, health care and welfare, rebellion is unlikely, Alshareef said. A third intifada against Israel is un-
likely, he added. “Barring extreme circumstances, most Palestinians are looking for peace at this point, including many people I know in Gaza. Don’t get me wrong, small bombings and rocket firings happen almost every day but nothing compared to an intifada,” he said. Animosity toward Israel may heighten as a result of the Arab Spring. Although it raises the potential for regional conflict, Alshareef noted that enhanced animosity may have the positive side effect of increased unity among Arabs. “I see a trend that isolates Israel. Most uprisings are by the people, and most Arab citizens are in support of the Palestinian cause,” Alshareef said. “The Arab Spring is uniting Arabs into one mentality.” The future is more bleak in other parts of the Middle East, however. Martini is concerned that many Americans do not have a comprehensive understanding of what is at stake in the Syrian conflict. Many political analysts have suggested that a repeat of previous incidences of political violence are imminent. “Hama 1982” was a massacre in the city of Hama led by former President Hafez al-Assad, father of the country’s current leader, that resulted in the death of 20,000 Syrians. The 1982 massacre was a reaction to widespread dissent in the country at the time— reminiscent of today’s conflict. According to numerous political analysts, another “Hama” could be only a matter of time if the international community does not intervene. “I grew up loathing this regime and
“I GREW UP LOATHING THIS REGIME AND EVERYTHING IT STOOD FOR.” -Farris Martini, a Duke Law student from Syria
1826| TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW
“I AM A STRONG BELIEVER THAT PEACE WILL PREVAIL IN THE ARAB WORLD.” -sophomore Safa al-Saeedi, from Yemen
everything it stood for. I grew up lamenting the fact that the words ‘Hama 1982’ were never mentioned by anyone and that one of the worst massacres in modern history was seldom ever discussed,” Martini said. A long, drawn-out and bloody civil war in Syria is a very real possibility barring international intervention, Martini speculated. This civil war would be reminiscent of the sectarian violence that shattered Lebanon from 1975 to 1990 but on a much larger scale. If the rebels prevail, Martini said the outcome could still be terrible, since the Sunni majority may seek recrimination against the Alawite Shi’a minority that currently holds power. This type of retaliation happened in Rwanda in the early 1990s when the Hutus massacred Tutsis after toppling them from power. “I do think there is the very unfortunate potential for a genocide in Syria should the rebels prevail, and the regime’s existing security apparatus be completely disbanded,” he said. Al-Saeedi is more hopeful. Despite the killings, violence and terrible flow of sectarian zeal, al-Saeedi believes a peaceful outcome is possible because the vast majority of Arabs want peace—even if those voices aren’t the loudest. “I am a strong believer that peace will prevail in the Arab world at some point in the future, because I believe in my people and in their genuine desire for peace,” she said. “The role that the Arab youth is playing in the Arab Spring is inspiring [and promises] a more stable and peaceful future. This sounds quite optimistic, but it happened in the past, [so] why not in the future?” n TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW 27 | 19
OUT OF THE W 20 | TOWERVIEW 16 TOWERVIEW
the buzz of sirens, horns and nearby construction work pollutes the air around the church garden at the corner of Dillard and East Main Streets, to the sleeping residents of the garden benches the din is merely background noise. For them, the garden offers solace, serenity and a place to sleep in the sunshine during daylight hours. Despite its title as “Church Garden,” the small, circular plot of land hosts mostly weeds, caked dirt and the bench dwellers, clinging to garbage bags filled with their personal possessions. Just outside the garden’s confines, Steve Murray cannot sleep and instead aimlessly paces around the area. His royal blue fleece stands out against the muted grey clothing of his peers, who seem to blend in with the lackluster garden structures. Steve, a short, aging black man with a rough voice but a bright smile, is one of the many homeless residents who spends his time on this corner. Urban Ministries of Durham—one of the local shelters—sits at the next intersection and is connected to the church. On most spring days, Steve can be found wandering the area, sometimes chatting with other Urban Ministries residents—whom he refers to as his “socials”—but otherwise spending his time in solitude. “I hang out by myself most of the time. I don’t like to deal with the crowds,” Steve explained. “I’ve got a lot of ‘socials’ around here, but all my real friends have moved out of Durham.” Despite his current lack of a physical address, Steve has called Durham home for almost all of his life; he moved to the Bull City to stay with his grandparents at age 6 and has been a resident ever since. Steve grew up on Roxboro Road and attended Lakeview School, an alternative education program for students with chronic misbehavior or problems with long-term suspension. Steve’s connection to the city has always been strong. Having loved it growing up, he worked on the construction of many of the central public buildings—like the Durham Courthouse and the Durham County Library—that are now so intrinsic it is hard to imagine Durham without them. While walking through the library, Steve proudly points out the walls he structured and the wings he helped build, but struggles to read the name of the sections like the Dr. Benjamin E. Powell Memorial Room, one of his favorites. Walking toward Urban Ministries, Steve greets his UMD neighbors warmly as they call out to him. As they pass, however, he said he tries to keep himself separated from their “crowd” because he thinks he has a better employment ethic. “I do whatever I feel like—whatever moves me,” he said. “I work odd-end jobs, sometimes people come pick me up and give me a job for two or three days. You’ve got to keep out of the woods, you know? Keeps me apart from the riffraff.” These days, though, finding work is more of a challenge. As a homeless man in his late fifties, job opportunities have begun to dwindle. “I’m not old enough to be retired,” he said. “But I ain’t young. I don’t work as often as I used to. But I try.”
State of Homelessness in Durham
WOODS story by SAMANTHA BROOKS photos by JISOO YOON
Homelessness is neither a small nor unfamiliar problem in the Bull City. Once a booming center of tobacco and textile manufacturing, Durham’s economy is not what it was in the days of James B. Duke. As the presence of these industries has long-since waned, many still feel the void of their absence and the city’s economy has never fully recovered. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 18 percent of Durham residents were living below the poverty level—an annual income of less than $22,314 for a family of four—in 2010. What’s more, in January 2011 the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness reported that 652 people were homeless in the county at the time. While this number showed a 23 person decrease since the previous year, it was still indicative of the drastic increase Durham has recently seen. In January 2009, the homeless population was 535—marking a difference of 117 people in only two years, and an almost five-fold increase since 2001. Based on these figures, Durham had the fifth highest homeless population in the state last year. One of the most apparent issues confronting homeless residents like Steve is unemployment. Ryan Ferhman, the executive director of the Genesis Home—an agency that specifically focuses on assisting families as they transition out of homelessness—said unemployment is one of the main factors he sees that prevent families from “graduating,” or finding TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW 17 | 21
permanent housing outside of the organization. “One of the biggest challenges for just about every family in the house is employment and income,” he explained. “It’s been a huge issue. Without the jobs, it’s hard to get the folks out…. It’s a very real challenge we face in the shelter.” In a survey conducted last spring among the county’s homeless population, a lack of jobs proved to be the dominant problem. Among those surveyed, 53 percent did not have paying jobs. And of those who did—14 percent—more than half said theirs were only part time. When asked what service would have prevented their situation, 50 percent answered “help finding a job.” Additionally, almost a third of individuals who managed to obtain permanent housing after homelessness indicated that they wanted “help getting trained or upgrading education.” “A lot of the response was ‘I need a job, I need a job, I need a job,’” Ferhman said about the results. “It was crazy to read some of the comments, people are desperate to work.” The recent recession has only added to the problem and is a large factor in the drastic increase in the homeless population since 2009. “There’s been a really high demand for services that we’ve seen over the last couple of years since the recession,” Ferhman were living said. “One of the things we track is shelter nights [the number of people over a span of nights dur-
ing which people utilize the facility]…. It’s a basic indicator of occupancy. For 2011 the number of shelter nights provided was at an all time high in the history of the agency since 1989.” For Jason, a current long-term resident of Urban Ministries who chose to withhold his last name, the recession was the tipping point that drove him into homelessness. Jason is a 41-yearold white man from Morgantown, N.C. who graduated from Georgetown University in 1994 with a double major in history and English. Based on his appearance, though, one would hardly guess he has a degree from one of the country’s most prestigious colleges. He is tall, wears a tattered black baseball cap, a worn faux-leather jacket and ripped jeans, and is missing half of his right front tooth. Jason’s arrival at the shelter is the result of a combination of failed jobs and bad luck. He left Georgetown with a desire to pursue independent film production after getting involved with the school’s improv club his junior year. After a brief stint working as an assistant manager for Simmonds Precision Company in New Jersey, which closed in 1996, Jason decided to return to the D.C. area and to his original goals of working in film His girlfriend at the time had just left to travel abroad, and the timing seemed right. Because the production industry is largely project-based and offered inconsistent work opportunities, Jason held a series of part-time jobs—first as a Starbucks barista and then as a restaurant valet—to make ends meet. When his girlfriend returned from overseas, though, Ja-
below the poverty line in 2010.
22 | 18 TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW
“one of the things we track is shelter nights [as] a basic indicator of occupancy.
son followed her to Syracuse, N.Y. in hopes of, yet again, pursuing film. Not long after, the two went through a bad split and, with no real career opportunities in sight, Jason found himself out of work. Returning to his home state, he came to Durham to enter the real estate business in 2008—just as the recession was about to hit the area with full-force. By 2010, Jason was in a bleak situation. Jobless, newly evicted and without a car, he moved into a church-based homeless shelter near Morgantown. He was directed to Urban Ministries last summer and has been there ever since. “At first, I had planned on just toughing it out here until February when I had heard the market was supposed to pick up,” Jason explained. “But now it’s not supposed to get better until mid-summer. I’ve been talking to places on Ninth Street and in Brightleaf Square [for employment], but it’s tough because for them to reach me they have to call UMD, and it’s not a great spot to call back.” Jason started as an “overnighter” at UMD, which meant entering the line for a bed every day at 3:30 p.m. The shelter only gives overnight residents a 60-day stay period, though, and at day 45 with no solution in sight, he knew he had to find another option. He is now a member of the Journey Program, a long-term service for residents who don’t need assistance with disabling conditions. “It’s hard because I’m one of the only folks who has been to college who’s here right now,” he explained. “Most people here have issues with substance abuse.” Every day, Jason wakes up at 6:30 a.m. in the main bunkroom with the other residents. They are served breakfast until 8 in the neighboring cafeteria, then forced to leave UMD until lunch is served at 11. After that, overnighters are required to leave again until the afternoon line-up, and Jason showers and starts his day. The timing limits his job-searching window to 12-5 p.m., though, during which he has to allow himself an hour walk to and from potential employers and UMD. Instead, most days he stays near the shelter and goes to different hotels or the library to use the public computers. It’s hard to connect with other people at UMD, he said,
FOR 2011 THE NUMBER OF SHELTER NIGHTS PROVIDED because his situation is so different than was at an those of most other residents. “I’m friendlier with the folks who work [at UMD], honestly,” he said. “Most people here are either overnighters or in the substance abuse program. It’s too tough [to relate to them] because with substance abuse you want to give them room to work on that.” For now, Jason plans on staying at UMD and testing the waters in midsummer when the real-estate industry will hopefully offer more opportunities. If that doesn’t work, he’s not sure whether he’ll stay in Durham or go back to Washington, D.C.
Urban Ministries of Durham is located in a large, two-part building with a worn brick exterior; the “bunk” building hosts the beds for different individuals, while the other serves as the cafeteria, food bank and other amenities. Between the two buildings is a large, black iron gate with the organization’s title written in bold metal letters. The gate encloses a courtyard area, and on nice spring days the fence is surrounded by people sitting in the sun. The street corner where the shelter sits is spotted with individual residents sitting aimlessly either alone or in groups of three and four. Inside the administrative part of the building, the atmosphere is cheerful and welcoming. There are big windows at the entrance, allowing the natural light to highlight the cream walls and linoleum floor. Almost every person in and around the building—staff and residents alike— is friendly and quick to say hello, despite the challenges that have brought many of them there. Urban Ministries originally only served men, but has since responded to the rising needs of women and families. It currently has 81 available beds for men, 30 for women and nine family rooms, reaching 149 beds in total. The agency offers three meals a day to its residents and hosts a food pantry and clothing closet for the public, as well. UMD offers both emergency care and tran-
all time high in the history of the agency
sitional assistance. Emergency care entails providing anyone in need a bed on a given night—space providing—regardless of their circumstance or likelihood of escaping homelessness. The organization provides this care to anyone for 60 days during the year but requires that they join a program if they plan to exceed that timeframe. The shelter’s Journey Program helps homeless people transition into permanent housing. It reaches out to residents who fall into a variety of categories, including medical and mental health assistance, veteran care and substance abuse recovery. Residential Program Director Alex Herring, who joined UMD earlier this year, has taken on the difficulties involved in offering both emergency and transitional care because of the high demand for both services. Herring, a middle-aged black man with a pastor-like, slow voice, has worked in human services throughout most of his career. Before coming to UMD, he served as a full-time minister as well as a substance abuse counselor, a mentor for men exiting prison and a member of the Wake County Human Services Board. As a single father of two who has accumulated knowledge of homelessness and the barriers many face in exiting it, he said he has come to understand and treat the issue with a unique perspective. “Many times we think homeless people don’t desire to work, that they have drug addictions and all these other issues, which some of them do. But it’s a very small percentage,” he said. “A lot of people who are homeless just ran into circumstances. The best way to describe it is just life. I think we have a clearer understanding with what we’ve seen in this country with the economy changing—we’ve seen now how TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW 19 | 23
real homelessness is for many people who were doing well and are now struggling…I think sometimes we look at homelessness as a state of being but I think it should be looked at as a transition.” Just “running into life,” however, doesn’t mean that treating or eradicating the problem is easy. Though UMD aims to eliminate homelessness in Durham entirely, it’s unclear as to whether or not that is an attainable goal for the organization. “[Ending homelessness] is such a major undertaking. There are so many aspects to homelessness that we still have not addressed,” Herring explained. “There are some people that go to work in the grassroots level and I admire them a lot—they’re going out into the camps in the woods, they’re going under the bridges, they’re going to abandoned buildings, and they are finding people that have been forgotten about. How many people think when they drive over a bridge that there’s probably someone sleeping there? Most people don’t know, but there are a large number of people who sleep at these camps, or under the ramps that you use to get onto the freeway. So I don’t know if we can wipe it out [just through UMD], but I think that
we put forth a good effort to try to address the issue.” The Genesis Home, where Ryan Ferhman works, has a different approach to serving its residents. It works specifically with families—defined as one or more adults with custody of at least one child— in transitioning into permanent housing. The Genesis Home hosts a maximum of 15 families at a time, and requires a structured application process before granting access to the facility. The shelter is unique in that its residents usually stay for much longer than those in other agencies, at an average length of two years. Resembling a large, three-story house with a playground in its backyard, the Genesis Home is located two blocks away from Urban Ministries. And unlike UMD, which is usually surrounded by its residents for the majority of the day, Genesis Home is a hubbub of activity during morning and nights but is quiet for most of the daytime. The home provides case managers that work with each family to set specific goals regarding their “graduation” and assist parents with initial employment challenges such as structuring a resume, finding job leads, and getting referrals to other ser-
vices they may need for mental health or employment training. After that, however, the shelter leaves much of the responsibility to the family to make changes in their situations. “We have a requirement that folks either do go back to school or work full time, so usually in the morning the school buses are here and the parents are seeing their kids get on the bus and then they head to school or go to their job,” Ferhman said. “Usually our parents are getting back here at around 3:30 or 4, because that’s when the buses are getting back. Then usually the kitchen gets kind of loud; just about every family in our house gets food stamps so they do their grocery shopping and cook their own food. We have a communal kitchen, but every family has their own room. When a family is ready for their own quiet time, they can go in and lock their door and watch a movie, or read or do whatever.” Though the Genesis Home welcomes any type of family that meets its requirements, Ferhman said the most common familial structure they see is that of single mothers with children. Single parenting is highly correlated with poverty and homelessness, he explained, because of the high
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fair-market rents in the city and the challenges single mothers face to balance work hours and parenting.
Like Herring, Ferhman emphasized that the shelters have been effective in graduating their residents, though homelessness will not be eradicated without government support. In 2006, Durham established its Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, which aims to eliminate homelessness by 2016. To accomplish this, the plan called for increased collaboration with mainstream poverty programs and “enabling homeless people to access permanent housing more quickly by increasing the supply of affordable housing and permanent supportive housing, ensuring that people have incomes adequate to pay for basic needs, and providing appropriate services for those who need them,” according to the plan’s website. Stephen Hopkins, a former candidate for Durham County Commissioner and a member of the Homeless Services Advisory Committee—a group designed to oversee services provided for the homeless population, including the recent plan—said that Durham still has a long way to go before it accomplishes its goals. Hopkins, an older black man with a sharp tone and nearlytoothless grin, said he has an insight into the issue that most committee members do not; Hopkins is an ex-offender with a history of drug abuse and was homeless for a
“HOW MANY PEOPLE THINK WHEN THEY DRIVE over a bridge that there’s probably
portion of his life. He said that the only way for the plan to be effective is it if is more closely monitored, sets more measurable goals and is run by people who understand the problem. “The people that are making the decisions have never been in those [homeless] situations, so they don’t know what to do about it,” Hopkins said. “And they’re not listening to the folks who are in that situation, they think that [the homeless] don’t know what their own needs are. It’s not true, but that’s what they think.” Hopkins said the committee he sits on has yet to make a strong impact on the problem because it is newly-formed and still assessing exactly what needs to be done. Ferhman said that without better organization and established goals from HSAC, the city can do little to succeed in its venture. “The reality is… we need to get the Homeless Service Advisory Committee out of the weeds of who-does-what, and actually doing things that help homeless people because they have not done that, up until now,” Ferhman said, adding that he anticipates seeing what is in the committee’s future. “This work is so hard on a day-to-day level, at the agency level, that you’ve got to have the folks—the higherups, the city county folks, the ones that are on this advisory committee—they’ve
someone sleeping there?”
got to help direct traffic and really address those barriers in a way that helps the agencies. And that hasn’t happened.” Though there may not be a clear end in sight for homelessness in Durham, Herring said he is encouraged by the steps Durham is taking toward improving the situation. “I think Durham has taken a very proactive role in dealing with this issue. They’re recognizing that there is a problem… They’re sitting down and talking. They’re allocating funding for specific purposes for getting folks back into housing or getting transitioned into permanent housing. They are looking at the issue that often times people can come to UMD, however there needs to be some aftercare,” he said, which is a positive step for the county. As to whether or not he thinks the situation can be resolved entirely, Herring remains unsure. He does have a strong opinion about one thing, however. “As long as I stay in this position and work with this problem, I do see a brighter future,” he said. “I’m going to put forth every effort, I’m going to beat every bush, I’m going to knock on every door that I can find to ask people to help.” n TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW 21 | 25
Brian Hare is a progressive scientist. An associate story by professor of evolutionary anthropology, Hare leads the photos by Hominoid Psychology Research Group and directs the Duke Canine Cognition Center. In his spare time, he is and courtesy of also a vocal advocate of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Bill, which calls for ending chimpanzee research in laboratories. This commitment led him to speak at an Institute of Medicine hearing on behalf of the bill last year, which passed a Senate committee in July and is currently under review in both chambers of Congress. Though canines are the Hare lab’s main research subjects, the group is interested in understanding the human evolutionary process. Using canines and primates as comparative research subjects, the lab seeks to determine what distinguishes human nature and cognition from that of other species. “What makes us unique and special?” Hare said. “That’s really where studying bonobos and chimpanzees is really important, because when we find we’re different from them, we can infer that it’s something that’s evolved in our own lineage.” Next, the lab studies how one species has an effect on the other’s evolution. Canine Cognition Center Founded in 2009, the Canine Cognition Center studies dog psychology and the effects of domestication on cognition. The center tries to understand individual differences among different types of dogs, including explosive detection dogs in the military and service dogs. Most of the dogs used in the laboratory are pets,
PHILIP CATTERALL BRIAN HARE
26 |16 TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW
whose owners volunteer to participate in various trials. Why dogs? Hare chose to focus on domestic dogs in his lab because the animals have coevolved with humans for at least 15,000 years, meaning that each species has affected the other’s evolution. “Dogs have been a really powerful tool for us to understand how social skill evolved,” Hare said. “[They are] really important economically. Dogs have a lot of jobs in our society, so what we’ve learned is applicable to real world problems.” For experiments involving pet dogs, the center has a database of more than 1,000 dog owners in the area who bring their dogs in to play games—which mem-
bers of the lab describe as “fun.” Hare noted that the experimental structure of the research he runs is similar to child psychology studies. The center’s extensive database allows the lab to test different dogs depending on their specific research objectives—for instance, studies comparing certain dog breeds or sex differences. For each experiment, the lab invites 30 to 50 dogs and their owners to be tested for several months. Each test takes one hour. The dogs receive a treat, a toy and a diploma for their participation. “If you were to come into the lab it would basically look like we’re just giving a dog a lot of treats and playing with them,” said research associate Emily Bray, Trinity ’12. In fact, some experiments conducted at the lab involve popular games like “fetch.” So far, researchers at the lab have discovered that results vary significantly among different dogs. Analyzing these differences will allow them to better predict which dogs are more suited for certain capacities, such as serving as a guide dog. This line of research is important because comparative psychologists have not studied individual differences within a species to a large extent, said Evan Ma-
TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW 17 | 27
clean, a senior research scientist who has worked at the Hare lab as a part of his doctoral degree. “We’re usually so busy trying to understand the nature of the species— like what is a human mind like, what is a dog mind like?” Maclean said. “We have a lot of information about that so we can really start to ask interesting questions about individual differences.” Studying service dogs presents the researchers with a unique population for comparison. Eventually, the lab will compare service dogs to pet dogs, but for now their focus remains on applying their findings about cognition to screening dogs for service programs. The skillset necessary for a service dog differs somewhat from that of a pet dog. A dog whose job is to help somebody move around in the environment needs navigational skills and an increased understanding of the spatial world, Maclean said. On the other hand, dogs who are just emotional companions must have better social skills and be tuned into other individuals. “The whole point is to try to understand what skills these dogs need in order to be successful [in service training programs],” said Korrina Duffy, former lab manager and first year graduate student in cognitive neuroscience. “[Our goal is] ultimately to be able to predict early on which dog will be successful and basically try to reduce the attrition rate and narrow that gap—ultimately leading to more people having access to service dogs.” The center collaborates with Canine Companions for Independence, 28 |18 TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW
a non-profit that provides trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities—for free. The Hare lab, which has worked at the organization’s location in San Jose, Calif. for the past two years, does not help with training the dogs and instead uses cognitive tests to correlate success in the program with specific skill sets and temperament, Duffy said. For almost 50 years, service dog organizations have been genetically selecting dogs—who are mostly labradors, golden retrievers or some combination of the two—to have puppies who will more likely be successful in training. A dog from one of these breeding programs has around a 40 to 50 percent chance of success. On the other hand, a similar dog from outside of the breeding program would only have a 10 to 15 percent chance of success. By developing a way to screen dogs at an early age, the lab hopes to increase the efficiency of these programs. Like most canine studies at the Hare
lab, the research with service dogs is still in its early stages and has yet to generate conclusive results. Last year, the lab finalized the cognitive assessment and this summer it conducted its first round of data collection. Hare studies pet dogs because they offer better cognition data than dogs kept in cages. “I want to see animals at their best, at their smartest and there’s no dog on this planet that’s going to be more cognitively sophisticated than the one that is raised as a human pet,” Hare said. “I don’t really want to be studying dogs living in cages if I want to see dogs being cognitively sophisticated.” Hare’s philosophy differs from traditional research methods. Animal cognition researchers working with primates often use a few caged monkeys that a lab supports for 30 or 40 years. Hare noted that rather than working with a small number of primates, he has access to a database of 1,000 dogs that he can study. Pet dogs are more relevant to his research because they use their cognition to solve problems involving people every day. “I’m not against biomedical testing of animals, but in our area it doesn’t make any sense to have animals in cages,” Hare said. “When I have 1,000 dogs, then I can look at all sorts of variables that I normally can’t look at. My sample size is bigger, I can look at things in more detail and I can do more powerful science.” Keeping Chimps out of Labs Hare’s emphasis on researching dogs who don’t live in cages extends
to his research on great apes. He says working with apes in sanctuaries also produces better results. Hare has been an advocate for the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, a bill that is currently under review in Congress. Last year, he spoke at an Institute of Medicine meeting regarding current areas of biomedical research where chimpanzees are still relevant—which he says are few and far between. Chimpanzees are expensive to maintain, and with laboratory research on them steadily decreasing, a large cohort of scientists who study chimps in sanctuaries, zoos or the wild—as well as some who have studied chimps in a lab setting—believe the research setting will soon be obsolete. Much of Hare’s motivation to end laboratory work on chimpanzees stems from his undergraduate years at Emory University. Hare worked in Yerkes Regional Primate Center— a laboratory that he says needs to close. “When I was an undergraduate, I was told that the work with chim-
panzees… was actually crucial to saving humans,” he said. “At that point I agreed that it should continue because I could recognize the importance. Now I come to find out that the scientists who were saying that were exaggerating and were really wasting a lot of money, so I’m embarrassed, and I’m really angry.” The United States is currently the only nation that continues to keep a laboratory colony of chimpanzees, Hare noted. Unlike those labs in the country that use caged chimps, Hare founded the Hominoid Psychology Research Group in 2004. The group of Duke researchers studies apes in sanctuaries and zoos, and lemurs at the Duke Lemur Center. “Chimpanzees are not useful,” he said. “People can make an argument about their psychology and how sophisticated they are. People can make an argument that they’re endangered, and they don’t deserve it, but I don’t even think you need to do that in this case.” Even if Hare’s work to eliminate the use of caged apes doesn’t amount
to legislation, Hare is hopeful that the practice will phase out. In fact, he said many of the researchers who continue to use chimpanzees are nearing retirement. When they began their careers, using chimps in a lab was acceptable. But now, those scientists are clinging to an obsolete resource. “We think you could do much better research in other ways,” he said. “Most scientists like myself who want to study apes have realized that you don’t do that in the laboratory if you want to have good results.” n
TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW 19 | 29
ometimes Dukies are driven by what they’re told to do: study French flashcards, practice clarinet, get good grades, become a doctor. Sometimes, though, we’re driven by what people tell us we cannot do. While I took a gap year between high school and Duke, I worked for four months at a restaurant in my hometown. I loved the job. Few undertakings require as much teamwork as dinner service at a nice restaurant. Preparing for the Friday night rush is like getting the operating room ready for surgery, except the knives are bigger, and they’re meant for steak rather than skin. You won’t see any written checklists, but everyone’s got one going in their head: stack the glasses, clean the placemats, stock the bar, warm the bread, shine the silverware. When customers start to fill the tables, the operation begins—and everything must happen at precisely the right place and exactly the right time. The restaurant staff had the kind of diversity that would set any Duke admissions officer salivating. There was someone of every race and ethnicity you could imagine. But it wasn’t an egalitarian sort of diversity; there was a hierarchy, a binary division between those who were accepted and those who were merely tolerated. The owner, an immensely talented and occasionally terrifying chef, who had the gout to prove his love for rich food, was white. The general manager, the one in charge of everything besides the food, was black. The chef de cuisine, who runs the kitchen and tells you where to take plates and berates you when you forget a seat number, was Asian. Then there were the busboys and the dishwashers. All of the lowestpaid workers, those busboys who clear plates and the dishwashers who scrub for hours, were Latino immigrants. This is typical of most restaurants in D.C., from McDonald’s to Zagat-rated bistros. The restaurant I worked at was no exception; all of the busboys were Latino, almost exclusively from Honduras. Some of the guys were totally bilingual, while others were still trying to get past “hello” because they just arrived last month. I was applying to restaurants in the area for a job waiting tables in the summer of 2010, when the aftershocks of the recession were hitting restau30 | 30 TOWERVIEW TOWERVIEW
rants hard. After job application number 20, I decided I would take any job I could get and started checking the “busboy” box on applications. When I met with the general manager of the restaurant that hired me, I must have startled him. A white boy applying to work as a busboy—let alone one who was headed to college—was beyond unusual. In fact, I was probably the first non-Latino busboy the place had ever employed. And I was happy with that. You know how some people are Francophiles? They love French food, French wine, the French language, French people. You could say I’m a Latinophile. I love the food, the aguardientes (national liquors), the español, the people. Yes, I think Shakira’s great, but I love more Latin music than Shakira: Luis Enrique, Julieta Venegas and Manu Chao. I love getting to know Latino families, hearing about where people are from and exploring the differences and similarities in our cultures. Because of this, I also loved working with the Honduran guys on the wait staff. We talked in Spanish (except when they asked for mini-lessons in English). We talked about their lives back home, their lives here and our goals for the future. We shared jokes, stressful nights in the weeds and a rollicking New Year’s Eve. The two brothers I worked with even invited me to their cousin’s baby shower. In Honduras, baby showers aren’t just for the women; they’re more like a giant family party with eye-popping piles of tamales, fried plantains and Coronas. Coming into their house felt like crossing the border into Honduras, and I ate it up (literally and figuratively). I was that one gringo busboy, and I was happy that way. But not everyone was. One night during the staff meal called family dinner, one of the cooks, an angry white guy, called me out and asked why I spent all my time with the “brown boys.” There was an unspoken but obvious underlying question: “Why don’t you stick with your own kind?” He looked at the Honduran brothers, then back to me. Then, he
invented a label to mark me: “What are you,” he said, “Some kind of wannabeaner?” I brushed off his label in the moment. Restaurant kitchens are not Common Ground retreats; no one wants to hear about the value of diversity or Latino customs or what it feels like to be called a beaner—a derogatory term for Latino immigrants implying that they’re fit for nothing but picking beans. Everyone just laughed because it’s a pretty clever pun on “wanna-be” and “beaner,” but I didn’t forget about the label. I embraced it. Being called a “wannabeaner” only strengthened my determination to learn about and travel in and love Latin America. I lived in Costa Rica for the last four months of my gap year, and at Duke I’ve done more. I’ve taken classes about Latin American politics and started to learn Portuguese because I want to speak the three major languages of the Americas. This summer I worked exclusively on Latin American issues at a nonprofit in D.C. I even hosted a potential member of the Class of 2016 during Latino Student Recruitment Weekend (and he came to Duke). Like so many other determined Dukies who have been doubted or reprimanded or judged, I have lived in defiance of someone who told me “no.” Yes, I am a wannabeaner. And yes, you should be what you wanna be, too.
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