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> DECEMBER 2016
“My tears are just drops in an ocean of sadness”
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Students see threat from Trump – page 3
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Duke looks for cancer cure – page 5
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Duke community feels threat from Trump Wave of anxiety sweeps through campus as students contemplate future after election
Jack Dolgin | The Chronicle After Trump’s surprise victory, students described their feelings as “scared,” “terrified” and “nauseous.”
Gautam Hathi The Chronicle By 10 p.m., the anxiety at the Sanford School of Public Policy was palpable. By 11 p.m., some students were bawling. Many were in disbelief. By the next morning, people across campus were waking up afraid that their future—or even their safety—was in jeopardy. “I went to sleep hoping it was a bad dream and that I would wake up and it would be ok,” senior Joy Patel said. “It wasn’t okay.” He said that as he walked around on a dreary campus the next day, he saw two groups of people. “One that were just people moving on with their lives,” Patel said. “The other group were people who were really scared. I think I would put myself in the scared category.” On a liberal college campus, disappointment from the election of a Republican president is nothing new. But the election of Donald Trump has brought out something more at Duke and across the country. A number of students and faculty told The Chronicle that they feel fearful after seeing the results of the election, either for themselves or for their friends and family. Some students have spoken out and dismissed these fears as an overreaction, but they are real and pervasive. Deep-seated anxiety The fear began to spread as soon as the results of the election were clear. By 11 p.m., students at Perkins Library and the Sanford School of Public Policy used words like “scared,” “terrified” and “nauseous” to describe their feelings. “I was kind of feeling okay at the beginning of the night. But I’m not feeling okay right now,” senior Meghana Rao said. “There’s a stock market completely crashing. It’s just kind of completely horrifying.” But although the volatility in the stock
market was temporary, the anxiety flowing through campus was more permanent. Student activists who had spent years working for policy goals shared with Hillary Clinton saw their hopes come tumbling down, and students in groups—including Muslims, Latinx, immigrants and women—that had borne the brunt of Donald Trump’s vicious attacks saw his as a personal threat. Senior Dana Raphael, an activist against sexual assault and Chronicle columnist, argued that the election amounted to a validation of violence against women and other marginalized groups. “It’s not that my horse lost the race,” she said. “It’s that the things that fundamentally protect and define people’s humanity are gone.” Raphael noted that a Trump administration could roll back many of the efforts started by the Obama administration under Title IX to fight sexual assault on college campuses. In particular, she said that comments by Trump campaign officials and surrogates suggesting that the Justice Department’s Office of Civil Rights—which investigates complaints under Title IX—should be scaled back or shut down were worrisome for sexual assault victims. “All it takes is to dismantle the Office of Civil Rights, which oversees Title IX, to really throw a wrench in enforcement,” Raphael said. “Or newly released guidance that says Title IX doesn’t apply to sexual violence. Trump and the Republican Party Platform suggest that both are likely.” Reversing the Obama administration’s efforts to combat sexual assault using Title IX could lead to a much more hostile climate for sexual assault victims at colleges, she said. “As a victim of sexual assault who knows how impossible it is to have things prosecuted criminally, Title IX is what I had,” she said. “And if that doesn’t exist, students have nothing. Schools could refuse to investigate
complaints against students or even suspend victims because they don’t want to deal with them. There’s no protection at all.” Raphael added she has seen a lot of pain from the possible consequences of the election. “I’ve been talking to victims all day,” she said. “A lot of us see our abusers and rapists in Trump. The way he talks and acts, a lot of the stuff is verbatim what we’ve been told. And it just hurts.” Senior Farzain Rahman expressed fear both as a woman and a Muslim that a Trump presidency would have a negative impact on her life and on the life of her friends and family. “There’s already been a lot of reports of—especially for Muslim women who wear the hijab—of them being attacked or assaulted in the street today,” she said. “Because I don’t wear the hijab I have the privilege of not being stereotyped in that way, but I do think that being a Muslim American, having so many friends who are Muslim American, there’s definitely going to be real impacts on our lives.” Rahman said that the day after election she ended up staying in her room for the entire day processing the results. “My roommate and I just decided not to go to our class,” she said. “We were watching CNN and we felt like we needed to, with the mood on campus. It felt like a day of mourning or something.” Rahman added that although she had hoped the election would be a happy occasion, her feelings after the election were very far from happy. Her grandfather died a few days before the election, and the results only compounded the sadness that she felt. “I never thought that an election would make me feel the same way that I felt after the Orlando massacre or Sandy Hook or Charleston,” she said. “I never thought that a presidential election would evoke the same feeling in my gut, like really a physical feeling. That’s really the best way
I can sum up how I’ve been.” From campus to the Internet Rahman also wrote a Facebook post on the day after the election discussing her sadness about the election results as well as the loss of her grandfather. Many others at Duke went online to share their thoughts. Students used posts on Facebook and other sites to share their fear and sadness, but also to reach out for support and to advocate for more political engagement. These posts often received dozens or hundreds of reactions from other students. Their tone generally mixed sadness and anger with defiance and hope. Senior Leonard Giarrano, a member of The Chronicle’s independent editorial board, wrote in a Nov. 9 Facebook post that he had been affected by the way that the election had hurt the people around him. “I’m crying because nothing I post today has power. My tears are just drops in an ocean of sadness that I’m reading on Facebook,” he wrote. “And yes that ocean has power in it, but looking on all the hurt I see in my friends, I really just want to retreat inwards.” His post received almost 300 likes and other reactions. Giarrano wrote another post later that day in which he reflected on the fact that he was frightened by the potential impacts that a Trump administration could have on people he knew. The post mirrored many of the same fears expressed by Rahman and Raphael about whether certain groups would have their safety and rights threatened by a President Trump. “It’s chilling to picture the faces of my friends and the people I know who are undocumented, who are closeted and out, who are racial minorities, who now wonder about how freely they can really celebrate their religion, and who now more than ever See TRUMP on Page 7
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Imagining a new curriculum Duke’s curriculum overhaul moves toward vote, but financial questions remain unaddressed
Man-Lin Hsiao and Min Woo Kang | The Chronicle
toward implementation next year—with the class of 2022 potentially being the The Chronicle first group of students to experience the new curriculum. When former Trinity Dean Laurie But obstacles still remain, and no Patton asked the Arts and Sciences one as of yet has found answers to key Council’s Curriculum Committee questions about how the new curriculum whether Duke’s curriculum needed an will be implemented. update, faculty told her that it wasn’t broken enough. ‘Any crazy idea’ “Until the situation’s really bad, you The process for building a new can’t create dramatic change,” said Suzanne curriculum began with listening. Shanahan, associate research professor Ray Li, Trinity ’15, was Duke Student in sociology who chaired the committee, Government vice president for academic about their thinking at the time. affairs when the IDC committee was The last major change to the arts formed. He helped Shanahan gather and sciences undergraduate curriculum ideas for the new curriculum through was in the late 1990s, when Curriculum a series of town hall meetings with 2000 was introduced. But although the students. Curriculum Committee found problems “What that looked like is that me and with the current curriculum, they didn’t Suzanne Shanahan would have this thing initially conclude there was enough once a week that we would call Town dissatisfaction to drive the years-long Hall where we would invite students from process of developing a new curriculum. across the school to come meet with us,” “From our perspective, a curriculum he said. “That would usually be a group is a profound social, cultural change in a of maybe five to 10 students who would community,” Shanahan said. come. Undergraduates only since it was But Patton, who is now president of the undergraduate curriculum, and they’d Middlebury College, didn’t think that be from Pratt, Trinity, from all different a significant problem was needed to majors, all different affinity groups and improve the curriculum. Patton told the different types of students groups that Curriculum Committee to rethink their might want representation.” answer. Li added that Shanahan—who is also Shanahan and the Curriculum co-director of the Kenan Institute for Committee eventually got onboard Ethics—would hold meetings with faculty with a curriculum revamp, and so the members and academic departments. Imagining Duke Curriculum committee At the start of the process, the goal was was formed in 2014, also chaired by to get a general sense of what students Shanahan. The IDC committee embarked and faculty were thinking as well as to on a three-year journey to rethink what collect a wealth of possible ideas to draw Duke undergraduates are required to do on, Li said. during their time here. “[We were] really finding out what the After trying out a number of different broad strokes were of what we wanted the ideas, including some radical departures curriculum to look like and then throwing from the current system, the committee out any crazy idea at the wall and seeing is now closing on a final proposal. The what stuck,” he said. final draft will be voted on by faculty in The one major theme that the IDC the Spring and, if approved, will move committee heard from students, Li
said, was that the current curriculum was inflexible and counterproductive. Students also told Shanahan and Li that they were taking classes around the distribution requirements rather than engaging with them. “We thought that [the current set of requirements] was too rigid, we thought that it led to too much of gaming of the system,” he said. “It was not really preparing students for what the administration thought the curriculum was preparing students for.” From ideas to a proposal To fix these issues, the IDC committee focused on a couple of ideas that came up during their discussions with students and faculty. The first idea centered around special courses that were different from the standard catalogue offered by Duke. Li said that the IDC committee discussed a number of ideas, including “pop-up” courses that would start in the middle of a semester and focus on discrete skills, such as survival Arabic or basic programming. However, the committee decided instead to focus on a new, year-long course for first-years. This program, tentatively named “The Duke Experience,” will be a collection of seminar classes clustered around a series of “themes.” New Duke students will have to choose one of these courses to take during their first year on campus. The IDC committee also pursued a second, more radical idea that showed up in early curriculum proposals to faculty members, but which has been removed in the latest proposal. Responding to suggestions that the current curriculum is too structured and rigid, committee members discussed having a distribution requirement, but letting students decide with faculty advice whether a given course or program fulfilled a requirement. In other words, Duke might require
students to take a natural science course, but a student could argue that they had fulfilled the requirement by participating in a DukeEngage program or even by taking a literature course. After significant pushback from faculty, however, this idea was scrapped in the most recent draft of the IDC’s curriculum proposal. Shanahan acknowledged that many faculty members found the idea of open requirements, which the IDC called “expectations,” to be unworkable. “People felt rather uncomfortable with the logic of the expectations,” she said. “So we’re moving toward making those in some way required.” Instead, the latest round of curriculum proposals would require students to take courses in five different categories during their first two years at Duke. These requirements are in place of the current set-up, in which students have to satisfy 11 different “Areas of Knowledge” and “Modes of Inquiry” requirements. But students won’t be able to take just any courses to fulfill these requirements. Instead, they’ll have to pick courses from a “curated subset” of the course catalogue that will be “taught by Duke’s best faculty,” according to the draft proposal. In addition, students will have to not only complete a major, but also a “secondary depth.” Shanahan noted that 83 percent of students already complete a second major, minor or certificate, which would fulfill the secondary depth requirement. Students could also assemble a set of courses and other experiences, such as DukeEngage or DukeImmerse, which could then be approved by faculty to satisfy the requirement. Lastly, the proposed version of the new curriculum will require students to complete a “mentored scholarly experience.” The definitions of what types of programs See CURRICULUM on Page 7
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2016 | 5
The decades-long quest for a cure Immunotherapy research at Duke provides hope for cancer patients
Vir Patel The Chronicle Stephanie Lipscomb was 20 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage IV glioblastoma—a tumor the size of a tennis ball. The nursing student thought that she had months to live. She entered a clinical trial at Duke in 2012 that provided a seemingly miraculous recovery. Nearly five years later, she remains cancer-free. Lipscomb’s story was covered extensively in a recent 60 Minutes special on breakthrough cancer research at Duke. The research that led to her treatment, however, has been decades in the making. For most cancer patients, treatment options have traditionally centered around the so-called “three pillars”—surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy— explained Smita Nair, an associate professor of surgery and pathology and the leader of Duke’s Tumor Microenvironment/ Immunotherapy Focus Group. In the past several years, however, researchers at Duke and across the globe have made significant advances in re-purposing the body’s natural immune defenses, using these modifications to directly attack cancer. This approach, called immunotherapy, has been decades in the making, Nair said, noting that countless setbacks have preceded major breakthroughs in the field. In one well-publicized example, scientists at Duke’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center engineered a modified version of the
poliovirus that could be used to treat brain tumors in some patients who had exhausted all other options. The poliovirus was developed and refined through decades of work by Dr. Matthias Gromeier, a professor of neurosurgery, explained Dr. Peter Fecci, the leader of Duke’s Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program. Fecci added that the design of the modified poliovirus lets it latch on to tumors, where it then attracts the body’s immune cells to target the virus and attack the tumors at the same time. In 2012, Duke began its first clinical trial for the treatment, enrolling 65 patients with glioblastoma, a notoriously aggressive brain tumor. Twenty percent of the patients survived for more than three years, compared to the historical four percent survival rate. In May, the poliovirus therapy was awarded “breakthrough” status by the Food and Drug Administration, and the Brain Tumor Center’s findings were showcased shortly thereafter in a 60 Minutes special. “In the aftermath of the special, the phone was off the hook here with people wanting access to trials, even people with tumors that none of these trials were even appropriate for,” Fecci said. “We can’t treat everyone unfortunately, but we would love to have every patient come to Duke.” Humble beginnings Duke’s success was not the first major breakthrough in immunotherapy, however, with many tracing its clinical roots to researcher James Allison and his development of a class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors. By blocking
checkpoints which normally act as “brakes” to keep immune cells from attacking cancer, these drugs can actually activate the immune response. Allison developed the first checkpoint inhibitor, called ipilimumab, which was approved by the FDA in 2011 for treating aggressive melanoma. Ipilimumab’s groundbreaking success marked the beginning of an explosion in immunotherapy treatments, bringing more funding and public attention to the field. But for researchers in the fields of immunology and cancer biology, immunotherapy can be traced back much further in time. “Research and the basic [science] is always critical,” said Luis Ariel SanchezPerez, an assistant professor of neurosurgery and researcher in the Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program. “Immunotherapy was in that area since the 60s and 70s when knowledge was being acquired and we were trying to understand it all. Close to 2000 and 2010, people felt that there was a good background and implementation of it, and it became much more trustworthy because we thought we knew what we were doing.” Although the checkpoint inhibitors and poliovirus therapy have made the biggest splash in the headlines so far, investigators at Duke and elsewhere have developed other approaches—including dendritic cell vaccines and CAR T-Cell therapies. Sanchez-Perez added that as a whole, recent clinical advances have been highly encouraging to both scientists and physicians and have also emphasized the need for more basic research.
For the general public, however, the importance of such research may not be as obvious. “The basic knowledge—it’s not that it has taken less of a priority, but it keeps revolving in the background,” Sanchez-Perez said. “But in the clinic, what is taking everything by storm are these things, the CAR–Ts and the checkpoint inhibitors. It’s just what you see on the front page, that’s what draws more attention because of the efficacy that it is having.” A beacon of hope for patients Fecci said that Duke’s success with the polio virus was also built on decades of research, beginning in the 1960s with Darnell Bigner, the director of Duke’s Brain Tumor Center. Bigner’s foundational work with glioblastomas has propelled the Brain Tumor Center into the international spotlight, Fecci and Nair noted, drawing the attention of both potential patients and faculty. “I feel that the way an institution becomes great is by promoting good science, and maintaining that productivity,” Nair said. “It has brought people to us to do research which brings [funding] money.” Fecci explained that the Brain Tumor Center is renowned for featuring a vast selection of treatment options, developed both by Duke faculty as well as pharmaceutical companies. Duke also surpasses its peers in the number of immunotherapies and other experimental chemotherapies offered for See CANCER on Page 6
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Courtesy of Duke Health Neurosurgeon Dr.John Sampson is part of the Duke Brain Tumor Institute, which has been a leader in breakthrough cancer research.
CANCER from page 4 brain tumors, he added. “That is what sets us head and shoulders above many other places—availability of a large number of those therapies to patients,” Fecci said. Fecci added that the Brain Tumor Center has also remained selective in the types of clinical trials it accepts for study, given its goal of providing “the best therapies” instead of the most therapies. “There’s pressure to have these types of trials available to everybody, but you can’t fall victim to that pressure and just have therapies available without knowing that they’re going to do some good,” he said. Looking at national trends, Nair noted she felt that many factors have contributed to Duke’s reputation today in the immunotherapy field. Duke’s strongest asset is its broad patient population, she said, which has swelled due to the University’s position as one of the few major research hospitals in the Southeast. As a result, many pharmaceutical companies will actively seek out clinical trial partnerships at Duke, eager to cater to the patients who request such options. “If experimental clinical trials at Duke lead to benefits [longer life] in patients, that automatically brings in philanthropy dollars,” Nair said. “My understanding is that philanthropy dollars drive [just as much] research as funding. Patient benefit drives philanthropy dollars, which promotes continuation of good science and becomes newsworthy.” Although the Brain Tumor Center has built a stable global reputation, Nair did note that she feels Duke is now competing with more institutions for funding and faculty in the field. As immunotherapy has become more recognized in the fight against cancer, other groups across the country are building their own programs, many of which carry significant financial backing, she explained. Nair compared growing a research
institution to managing a football team, where those with the most resources often end up with the biggest academic stars. In Duke’s case, Nair and Sanchez-Perez noted that several of their strongest former faculty members might have left for greener pastures. Despite setbacks, Sanchez-Perez said the University is working toward developing the immunotherapy program and making it one of the key features of cancer research and treatment at Duke. Where immunotherapy is going Duke’s recent immunotherapy successes have also captured the attention of federal officials, some of whom are strong advocates for cancer research. In February, Vice President Joe Biden visited Duke to promote the Cancer Moonshot, an initiative aimed at consolidating federal efforts with those of researchers and clinicians, with the objective of expanding access to new treatments and potentially working toward a cure. Immunotherapy has also gathered interest from several well-funded private groups, many of which have made contributions to the field. Some initiatives, however, have concerned Fecci because of their wellintentioned but poorly executed ideas. “Everyone and their grandmother is going to try and come out with some trial... and get patients through their door,” Fecci said. “A lot of those trials are constructed illogically or even potentially immorally, and it’s going to become more important now to actually discern whether somebody has a good study open.” When the poliovirus trial was awarded breakthrough status by the FDA in May, Bigner emphasized that although this designation could expedite the development of this treatment, it did not mean the poliovirus would be necessarily be approved by the FDA. Sanchez-Perez noted that full approving of certain immunotherapies can sometimes be a 20-year process and that the breakthrough status might cut this down to 10 or 15 years for the poliovirus therapy.
Even with this status, approving the poliovirus treatment for public use would be no trivial matter, and for good reason, Nair explained. “It is in the interest of the scientists and the Duke doctors to be as careful as possible,” she said. “So not only is the FDA process strict, these [researchers] are very slow and steady. The last thing we will do is rush through anything. If something fails, that’s a nightmare scenario that no one wants to see, and it could fail if you don’t think it through properly.” Critics of the announcement quickly claimed that awarding Duke for its success with glioblastoma was premature and circumvented the rigorous approval process already in place. In Nair and Sanchez-Perez’s opinion, however, the trial’s breakthrough status reflects how the patients in these trials are all out of options, with the poliovirus offering them their last chance at life. “When people talk about the poliovirus and the breakthrough, they need to understand there’s a context there,” Sanchez-Perez explained. “[The trials are] in patients with recurrent glioblastoma, in which the survival time is six months. They have failed everything.” However, even with these advances, the poliovirus treatment is not a panacea for treating all brain tumors, and oncologists will likely never completely abandon their traditional approaches for new immunotherapies, Fecci noted. “It’s not going to be the smoking gun. It’s going to need to be used in conjunction with other therapies,” he explained. Duke’s cancer goals As Duke draws more funding for clinical trials and basic immunology research, Nair, Sanchez-Perez and other members of the Tumor Microenvironment/ Immunotherapy Focus Group hope to broaden the University’s collaborative spirit from within instead of beyond, forging relationships across departments including statistics and surgery.
Because Duke does not have a formal immunotherapy department, Nair said investigators in different departments might not have the chance to meet potential collaborators. “Sometimes you forget that you have those people in your own backyard as well,” she said. “In your own institution, people get lost a little bit and don’t see who is doing [immunotherapy] here and who is doing it there.” Nair said she hopes to build her Focus group as a kind of representative body, where experts from each of Duke’s health divisions come to meetings and later share those discussions with their colleagues. In the long run, Nair, Sanchez-Perez and Fecci agreed that Duke will need to make continued investments to truly secure its role in the future of immunotherapy. “I call it homegrown science,” Nair explained. “If there’s homegrown science of value, we need to find a way to help the Duke scientist move to [the first phase of] clinical trials.” Fecci added that as immunotherapy gains momentum, Duke should also focus on streamlining its broader research goals to “make the quality of our research increase, and make the quality of our trials increase.” Duke is also in a prime position to expand research and clinical trials in rarer diseases, such as pediatric cancers or testicular cancer, Nair said. Equally important would be a greater emphasis on the healthcare policy behind immunotherapy, Nair said, adding that some immunotherapy options can cost patients hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Because most immunotherapies are only available as clinical trials, costs are typically absorbed by their pharmaceutical developers, she explained. As more immunotherapies start hitting the market, however, how patients will afford them is less clear. “Ultimately, it is patient care, and to some extent that’s a conversation we should have more with the [clinicians],” Nair said. “Who is looking at the healthcare aspect of this?”
TRUMP from page 3 fear for their safety and basic right to pursue happiness,” he wrote. “Even more chilling to me are the millions I don’t know who went to sleep last night in their beds but woke up in a country that is foreign to them.” Patel also took to Facebook to discuss his thoughts. He noted in his post, which received more than 100 likes and other reactions, that although some people were able to go along with their lives normally after the election, he was not able to do that. “I don’t feel safe! And if you don’t understand where I’m coming from, please go find someone who is scared and figure out why they are scared! Like go do that right now!” he wrote. “There is something fundamentally wrong when people are scared of their government.” Others wrote about their feelings in Chronicle columns. Senior Steven Soto, president of Blue Devils United, expressed his reactions to the election in a heartfelt piece titled, “What we can do now”. “A majority of Americans decided that my Latin skin denotes inferiority,” he wrote. “They told me that whom I love is a cause for moral shame. They told me that if you are queer, Muslim, black, brown, differentlyabled, an immigrant or a woman, you have reason to be afraid.” Raphael also wrote a column in which she expressed her fears for the future of a Trump administration. “I am so afraid,” she wrote. “I’m afraid that we just elected a rapist to be our president. I’m afraid that the gates of hate have been opened to release a flood.” ‘I tell them we love them’ Students are not the only ones who have concerns about the results of the election,
CURRICULUM from page 4 could fulfill this requirement are loose, but possibilities include a traditional capstone course, an independent study or a Bass Connections program. Lynn Smith-Lovin, Robert L. Wilson professor of sociology and a member of the IDC committee, noted that giving students more control during academic exploration was a common thread. “A central goal of the curriculum was to have students have more ownership and authorship of their scholarly trajectories at Duke rather than their doing it as a fill-in-the-blank structure,” she said. “Whether the proposals accomplish that, of course, is what we’re debating.” Where does the money come from? Many of the proposed curriculum changes have one thing in common— they will need an investment of additional faculty time and effort. Both the new first-year “Duke Experience” course as well as the “curated subset” courses that students will be required to choose five courses from are slated to be taught by “Duke’s best faculty.” In addition, the mentored scholarly experience will also require extra time from faculty to focus on individual students. At this point, however, neither the IDC committee nor administrators seem to know where the extra resources will come from. To compound the problem, Patton announced in 2015 that Trinity would be “constrained” in any new faculty hires. “We cannot ‘afford’ our current faculty size,” she wrote in an email at the time. Faculty members have expressed concern that that the new curriculum will not be properly implemented given the budget constraints that Trinity seems to face.
however. Faculty members have also expressed concerns, both for themselves and for the broader Duke community. Omid Safi, director for Islamic studies, did not hold back in describing what he believed the significance of a Trump presidency would be. “We have gone from America’s first black president to having a president who has been endorsed by the KKK,” he said. “I don’t want to mince words over that. We have gone from the prospect of electing America’s first female president to a president who is under investigation for the sexual harassment of a dozen women.” He explained that he had seen real fear not only from members of the Duke community but also from children in local schools that he had reached out to. Many of these children, Safi said, were not exactly sure what to think about the election results, but had questions about whether their lives could continue as normal under President Trump. Safi also noted that many parents might have trouble explaining to children why the president has behaved in ways children are told not to. He added that although there were no “easy answers” to these questions, he is focused on making sure that people feel accepted wherever they are as they process the election results. “I tell them that we love them, that we have their backs and that they are not alone. I tell them that their community is here to love them and support them and protect them,” he said. “I also tell them that we are disappointed. I have also been in the middle of processing my own sadness and grief.” Salman Azhar, visiting associate professor of computer science, said that he believed Duke was generally a safe environment for students, but added that he worried in the short term about what Trump supporters
‘Now is the time’ From precautions to protests, different members of the Duke community are thinking about different ways to move forward now that the election is over. Junior Amy Wang, vice president of Duke Democrats, said that groups that could become the target of Trump administration policies needed activists to stand up for them. “It goes without saying that we have friends who are Muslim or who are LGBTQ or females. This isn’t a choice to them that this election has been decided,” she said. “For them the fight never ends. There are a lot of people who are going on and saying,
‘It’s not as if our voice has been silenced, there’s still plenty to do.’” Wang said that she was now looking to make sure people didn’t forget about politics and got involved in the 2018 midterm elections when campaigning for them begins. Other students also said that they were hoping to work on a political campaign in the 2018 elections. Rahman noted that she hoped to be even more involved in politics during the 2018 campaign than she was during the 2016 campaign. “I think for me my biggest regret is not doing enough. I worked on Roy Cooper’s campaign over the summer, but I kind of wish I had done more,” she said. “Moving forward, starting from the midterm elections I think it’s going to have to be something that we dedicate ourselves, and myself, to so that we are always committed to be politically engaged, not just every four years.” Raphael said that the election results had left her with more commitment to help sexual assault victims by eventually becoming a lawyer and litigating to improve protections for victims. “My career dream has been to become a lawyer and do these Title IX cases and represent victims who don’t have access to representation,” she said. “I think that’s going to be critical more than ever.” Safi added that he felt now is the time when Duke’s emphasis on leadership should be put into action. “We at Duke, just like every other prominent institution of higher learning, speak a lot about being in the business of training global leaders,” he said. “Now is the time where in this particular context, we get a chance to figure out what does it mean to lead and to follow with a commitment to love and justice at a time when so many people find themselves vulnerable.” Rachel Chason contributed reporting.
Bruce Donald, James B. Duke professor concerns about resources for the of computer science, wrote in an email that new curriculum and the future of the a current Trinity hiring freeze combined curriculum implementation process, with other budgetary constraints makes Ashby explained that resources and the him wonder where resources for the new budget will be “worked out” once the curriculum will come from. curriculum is approved by faculty. “It is great that Duke is ambitious and She provided the following statement wants to do a lot of things,” he wrote. as a response to all of The Chronicle’s “But at the same time Duke is saying questions: that certain units are impoverished and “Thank you for reaching out about running a deficit, so why is it that new the new curriculum proposal. Let me see initiatives are being proposed for those if I can answer your questions succinctly. units to accomplish? How will they be Trinity College faculty own and shape paid for? And as a corollary: what other the undergraduate curriculum and important things my role is to cannot be done in ensure that the order to achieve e were really finding out Duke Curriculum the curriculum receives what the broad strokes Committee reform, which looks the support were of what we wanted the expensive?” it needs. The Shanahan said curriculum to look like and then committee, as you that there is no firm know, is made plan at this point to throwing out any crazy idea at up of faculty provide resources for the wall and seeing what stuck.” members and this the new curriculum, team has been but added that the — Ray Li, former DSG president honing ideas and focus at this stage feedback from the in the process is departments and determining the best ideas. the Arts & Sciences Council for more “We’ve talked a lot about different than two years. Once a new curriculum kinds of incentives and how to do that,” proposal is approved, we will then enter she said. “I think for us at this point the the implementation phase and can question is, ‘Is it a good idea? Do people work out the details and budget needed think this is in the best interests of the to launch our refined approach for best scholarly community that we could undergraduate education.” have here?’ And then let’s figure out how to make that happen.” Moving forward Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College Faculty feedback has already changed of Arts and Sciences, said via an assistant the curriculum proposals, and more that she did not have any time during feedback is likely to come during the next the last several weeks to answer questions few months. about the curriculum review in person or Some faculty members say that they on the phone. have been encouraged by changes When The Chronicle emailed Ashby made to the proposals. Jeffrey Chase, a series of questions about her role in professor of computer science, said that the curriculum review process, faculty he felt the IDC committee was working
well to address problems with the curriculum proposals. “There were some faculty who had concerns with the result [of the review process], and so now they’re trying to resolve those concerns, which is probably the right thing to do,” he said. “It would be ideal if everybody voiced their concerns before the decisions were made, but this is probably the right thing to do at this point.” Others, like Donald, are not sure that potential problems with the new curriculum have been resolved in the latest draft proposals. “The budgetary questions that I raised have not been addressed at all,” he said. In addition, it is not clear whether current students are aware of the proposed curriculum changes. Although the new curriculum will not affect currently enrolled students, the IDC committee has tried to get student input during the review process—mainly by holding events open to students and by coordinating with Duke Student Government. DSG President Tara Bansal, a senior, noted, however, that there has only been limited outreach to students regarding the new proposed curriculum. “Many of the decisions require a lot of conversation between administrators and faculty that know much more about academic pedagogy, so that decision making process can be slow,” she explained in an email. Whether students are aware of it or not, faculty will vote on the new curriculum in the Spring, perhaps after making changes from the latest proposals. If the new curriculum is approved, however, the future of Duke undergraduate education may look significantly different than it is today.
might feel empowered to say or do. “I think Duke is a very safe environment. I would be shocked if something like what I’ve been hearing in the news about the harassment of immigrants and women were to happen at Duke,” he said. “So I think as long as [students] are at Duke that would be safe, but if they are somewhere else [they should be careful] until things calm down.” Azhar said that he had not discussed the election with his computer science students, but he did note that during his first class after the election people seemed to be “more down than usual.” He added that the election had affected his family personally as well. “It affected my children much more than it affected me,” he said. “My nine-year old, in the morning when he found out, didn’t stop crying. He was very deeply involved, he watched the debates and so on, and so it was really a shock to him. My son who’s in high school was in a complete state of shock and didn’t want to talk about it at all. Both of them dealt with it differently but both of them were affected by it. My oldest son was really angry. He’s older and felt, ‘We should be protesting this.’”
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