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Housing, Dining & Residence Life

Housing, Dining & Residence Life

Green Dining Awards

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Duke Dining Bans Styrofoam

Read about it here on Duke Today!

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You can't spell art without RA

Do you ever pay attention to the walls of your dorm? I know I don’t. Usually I’m in such a rush that the trip out of my room, down the stairs, and into the cold outdoors is just a blur. However, after talking with a senior RA on West campus, I'm starting to pay attention to the wall art around my dorm.

Torie Scott, a second year RA in Kilgo House O, created a small photo gallery titled “One Wild and Precious Life” in an entrance of her dorm. It was her Resident Coordinator’s idea to put up photographs of nature in the otherwise empty lobby, and in the coming weeks they plan to have a grand opening “party” (the RA version of a party) to celebrate her work. After she graduates, the plan is to have another RA next year change the scenery in the gallery with new photographs.

As a lucky second year resident of Hotel Bell on East, I realize the importance of the appearance of the inside of a dorm. It truly makes a difference to the experience on campus. I’ve become slightly spoiled living in one of the best looking residence halls I’ve seen so far at Duke. The halls are painted orange and yellow with wooden panels across the lower half, and the rooms are all freshly painted and carpeted. There is some art around the dorm, too, but it is not student produced (as far as I know). It seems like it’s there to take up space on the wall rather than to inspire students. It would be great if we had more displays of student creativity around our living spaces. Art produced by fellow Duke students would give dorms a personal and inviting atmosphere, something they currently lack.

While her residents haven’t said very much about the gallery yet, news about her project will spread after the opening party. However, the purpose of the gallery isn’t to create a powerful bonding experience among residents; rather, it reminds Duke students of the world outside stressful academics and activities at school. The green photos of leaves, dragonflies, and flowers represent the small beautiful sights in life that we frequently overlook in our rush through each day at Duke. The precious world outside the classroom is a refreshing theme to encounter here. Her gallery also serves to show the creativity of a Duke student who cares about her dorm. I asked Torie what she wanted me to take away from our conversation, and she told me that she just loved being an RA; it’s one of the best commitments she’s made at Duke. She enjoys being a resource for her residents and creating a healthy, friendly community in her hall. While the gallery may not help people to make friends, it shows them that someone cares about the dorm. Someone wants it to be a welcoming, colorful place to live.

Torie will be graduating this spring. Torie’s title “One Wild and Precious Life” sums up the experience at Duke perfectly. Our precious four years here are passing more quickly than we ever imagined they could.


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Collaborative Efforts Help to Feed Those in Need

On any given day, Urban Ministries of Durham may provide about 600 meals between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thanks to a partnership between Duke Dining and Urban Ministries of Durham, some of those meals are easier to plan, prepare and provide to people in need. Last week, Duke handed over between 50 to 75 pounds of food to the local shelter that will use it to feed local residents. Read full article here.


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It's All About Perspective

By the end of freshman year most students have come to love East Campus.  Frankly, I still miss East in a lot of ways.  I miss knowing that almost everyone on the quad was a member of my class.  I wish that I could still count on the fact that it was more likely than not that I would run into someone I knew when getting breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I will always think that Brodeie is way better than Wilson, and I will feel a stronger affiliation to Southgate than any other place I’ve lived on campus.  For me, East Campus means community.  There is an overwhelming sense that the people you are living with get you.  Everyone comes into freshman year vulnerable, and looking for a sense of belonging.  The East Campus community was deliberately designed to foster that very sense of belonging, and was directly tied to where you live. As a freshman, I had so much pride in my dorm, and was quick to claim that it was far superior to any other.  I loved that I was really close with the people in my hall, and that the norm was to keep your door open instead of closed.  All of these things in some small way, helped me to find a sense of place at Duke.

But, what happens when you leave? Objectively, West Campus is a different world.  Suddenly, you can’t be sure whether the person in line with you at The Loop is a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.  You don’t know whether the people in your common room actually live in your dorm, or are just passing through.  Many times you won’t know everyone in your hall, and the doors seem to be closed more often than they are open.  West Campus is an adjustment, and a lot of times I felt like a small fish in a big pond.  It’s hard when all of your friends don’t live in the same place that you do, and it can feel lonely at times.  I always thought it was interesting that something so small, like a shift in campuses, can have such an impact on the sense of community that students feel.  It makes sense.  It’s hard when your friends don’t live right down the hall, and making plans changes from knocking on someone’s door to scheduling time to meet up.

I guess what I’m getting at, is that sophomore slump is real, and its okay to feel lonely.  I know tons of students who have said that sophomore year was a rude awakening.  I think that these feelings of disenchantment are tied to two things, a lack of community (attributed to leaving East Campus), and increased academic expectations.  Sophomore year comes with a whole new set of challenges.  Leaving the insecurities of freshman year behind, students are confronted with harder classes, greater extracurricular involvement, and a new environment.  I think that all of these things together make it harder for students to feel the sense of community that they had as a freshman.  But, sophomore year has its advantages too, and West Campus has its own sense of community though different.

I had a serious bout of sophomore slump.  I felt alone a lot of the time, and it bothered me that all of my closest friends were spread out all over campus.  My classes were hard, and I had to completely rethink the way that I studied and prepared.  I spent a lot of time wishing that I could go back to freshman year, to my small Southgate bubble, to the comforts of introductory classes, and the reliability of Market Place brunches.  But, sophomore year was also a time of growth.  I learned to look at some of my stressors as opportunities.  Even though it frustrated me that I didn’t feel the same sense of community on West Campus, it forced me to be proactive about seeking it out.  My sophomore slump helped me to make a concerted effort to seek friends out.  Closed doors in my hall, allowed me to make conversation with people in the common room.  Hard classes helped me to build a broader network, and to meet with professors on a regular basis.  Don’t let the slump get you down!  It may no be freshman year, but sophomore year can be just as amazing.  It’s all about perspective.

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Finding your way...

My first post goes out to the freshman.  Welcome to Duke!  I hope the start of your Duke experience has been as much of a whirlwind for you as it was for me!  I remember these first couple weeks at Duke being exciting, challenging, ridiculous, silly, daunting, and many times, a bit lonely.  Some people have a seamless transition into Duke, but those people are few, and far between.  I want to encourage those freshman still struggling to find your place here.  It doesn’t happen over night, nor should it!  If you haven’t found your crew, don’t worry, chances are neither have most people.  You are not alone. Trust me, it is so important to seek out people you connect with, which can be very different from those you gravitate toward initially.  Remember, everyone is in the same position that you are, most people didn’t arrive at Duke with an established group of friends, so take time in your first weeks to get to know people who are in your classes, in your hall and even on the bus!  Freshman year is AWKWARD, but it’s awkward for everyone.  It’s all about perspective.

  • “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”:  My favorite advisor in the Career Center, shameless shout-out to Anita Stockmans, ends all of her emails this way.  It’s true!  Stick to who your values, let them guide you most of the time you won’t go wrong.  
  • Challenge your comfort zone, step outside of it: It’s very easy to settle into a routine.  But some of my most important lessons came from going off the beaten path.  Do things that make you uncomfortable.  Try taking classes in subjects where you might not be as strong. Don’t worry Pass/Fail is a thing here.  Find a way to connect with people that you wouldn’t normally interact with.
  • Talk to professors:  Take advantage of the amazing professors at Duke.  Go to office hours!  Talk after class! Organize a Flunch! Most professors at Duke are leaders in their field, and they want to talk to you about their work, life, or just about anything!  Networking is a big part of life, and getting to know your professors outside of the classroom will only make you a stronger student.  The relationships you create may even lead to a great job recommendation in the future.  
  • It is always more awkward to ignore someone, than it is to say hello: It is never a good idea to pretend you’ve never met the person in line behind you at the Market Place.  I promise that they remember meeting you, even if it was at Shooters, and I swear it won’t kill you to say “hey, what’s up?” The awkward eye-contact-glance-away is a chronic Duke problem!  It won’t help you make friends, it definitely makes everyone uncomfortable, and only ensures that every time you see that person on the quad for the next 4 years, you will have to pretend that you never took Writing 20 together, lived 3 dorms down from them, or that you didn’t bond over a harrowing rendition of We Can’t Stop while standing on the bar at Shooters…
  • Make time for personal time:  I often describe the Duke experience as analogous to running on a treadmill with no stop/pause button that being said, take time for yourself.  Carve out a bit of space in your day where you do things that center you.  Call your mom, go for a run, take a walk off campus, bake something!  Whatever it is, you can always make time for the things that matter most to you.  I wish I had done this more freshman year.  Stress comes with the territory, it’s manageable. Find a routine that helps you perform to the best of your ability.
  • Ignore FOMO:  I did many things freshman year because I had a chronic case of FOMO (fear of missing out).  Prioritize!  Plan ahead. Whatever you are missing, is not going to make, or break, your Duke social experience.  It is exhausting to consistently calibrate your life experiences to those of your pears.  Actually, it is completely irrational!  Do you! Everyone else is doing them.
  • Small talk MATTERS:  “Hi, I’m Alex.”  Those three simple words changed the dynamic of my freshman experience.  I made some of my best friends at Duke in South Gate, standing in line for ice cream on the first night of school.  “Hi, I’m Alex,” that’s all it took for me to feel more comfortable as I scooped Oreos onto my slightly melted pile of chocolate ice cream.  “Hi, I’m Alex,” prompted me to say “Hi, I’m Dani.”  “Hi, I’m Alex,” led to “Dani this is Ali, she lives in our hall.”  The conversation that laid the foundation for some of my longest lasting friendships at Duke started with an introduction, and a sloppy bowl of ice cream.  I was lucky.  A lot of people don’t have an Alex, but the point is that it doesn’t take much to be one.
  • Don’t get comfortable:  You may think that you have it all figured out, but there is always room for growth!   
  • Find a mentor:  Find someone at Duke who will be your principle stakeholder.  Develop relationships with people you admire, and who can, and will make you a better person.  Seek out faculty, professors, and even students who have skills that you admire.  Find someone who will be invested in your future.
  • Have F-U-N:  Duke is an amazing, crazy, unpredictable, fantastic, and beautiful ride.  Don’t forget to make memories that count.


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So Casey, why did you come to Duke?

I must have been asked at least a hundred times so far, “So Casey, why did you come to Duke?”  And my answer is always the same. I tell the story of being on the wait-list and receiving a surprising phone call from the admissions office. I wish I could finish the story by telling people I jumped with glee at the exciting news, but the truth is I had already decided to go to Drexel.  Although I wasn’t overly anxious to live in Philadelphia, I wanted the process of choosing a college to be over. I was also upset that Duke hadn’t accepted me sooner than mid-May. But no matter how sour I was over my college decision, I just couldn’t say no to Duke University.

When I look back on that moment of indecision, I can’t believe myself.  My freshman year at Duke was both an enriching and challenging experience, and I learned that even after eighteen years of life, I discovered several new facts about myself:

1. Apparently, going to sleep at midnight isn’t late; I’m definitely a morning person.
2. I’m also a tea person.  I’ve never seen so many people drink coffee in my life!
3. I am not a competitive athlete; it took four years of running on the high school track and cross country teams and an extra month of Duke Women’s Rowing to figure this one out.
4. I’m pretty good at math, but not Duke math (aka rocket science).
5. I do get homesick, no matter how annoying my little brothers may have been.

I hope to learn much more this year, both in class and about myself.  I’m an RA in Bell Tower on East campus and I participate in Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ).  Both of these keep me pretty busy in addition to the classes I’m taking.  I haven’t declared yet, but I want to double major in Computer Science and Visual & Media Studies.  I love seeing how different these two areas of study are; I write computer code and do problem sets for some classes and read articles and write essays for others.  

Over the summer I worked at my first real internship for a computer company.  I was hoping to get a head start in my Java class this semester and gain experience in the work field, but I ended up learning more about just having a job in general rather than specific skills or facts.  I learned what it’s like to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, to sit in a cubicle and go to meetings, and to come home in the afternoon exhausted (kind of like high school actually).  The purpose of my internship was to figure out what I wanted to do after college.  How silly of me!  Even second semester seniors aren’t able to decide!  After my internship, I’ve only begun to wonder even more where I’ll be when I graduate.  Having a job didn’t answer as many questions as it created, but it gave me somewhere to start.  I’m looking forward to my next three years here at Duke, and hopefully somewhere in that time I’ll be able to finally answer the question of what I want to be when I grow up.

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Welcome to the Grand Re-Opening!

The gothic and the modern. The old and the new. In an ongoing effort to provide an ever-improving experience in all aspects of life at Duke, new construction and renovations were undertaken just last year to make room for even larger projects on the horizon. These early projects are now complete and ready to be unveiled to the community.

Most prominent on the changing Duke skyline is the new Events Pavilion, which provides a picturesque experience with beautiful wooded views through the floor to ceiling windows. The new building initially will provide a temporary home for dining until the completion of the West Union Renovation Project. Dining options will include seven new venues to include southwestern, bistro style, comfort foods, pizza and pasta, a deli, soup and salad and grab and go options.

"When we began the Events Pavilion projects, we had big needs and high hopes for the structure," said Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta. "I think all who come to visit the Pavilion will be very impressed with the building itself, and will be thrilled with the food we're serving there."

The Events Pavilion is connected to the original plaza area by a beautiful extension including new seating areas with shaded landscaping, locations for food carts, and graded access from the plaza to Towerview and all points west.

Finally, the Bryan Center renovations provide a much more engaging, student-focused experience.  "It was our intention that the Bryan Center become a much more inviting hub for student activity," said University Center Activities and Events (UCAE) Executive Director Chris Roby. "The renovations accomplish that goal, and much more."

Residents of the Bryan Center include student organization space for DSG, DUU, BSA and media groups; the attractively redesigned University Bookstore; several dining venues including Au Bon Pain, the relocated and redesigned Loop in the former 'Dillo space, Red Mango frozen yogurt and smoothies, and McDonalds; and several Student Affairs centers and offices including the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the UCAE, Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Center for Leadership Development and Social Action, and the Office of the Vice President.

On August 26, from 10-6, Duke will showcase the new Events Pavilion, the revitalized Plaza, and the renovated Bryan Center to the campus community with open houses, great prize giveaways, free food, fun art activities, live performances, and much more. All are invited to attend.

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