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Housing, Dining & Residence Life

Housing, Dining & Residence Life

Duke Common Experience, Class of 2019

Nominations are now being accepted for the Class of 2019 Duke Common Experience. As a piece of the coming changes to Orientation this summer, we have decided to enhance our Summer Reading program. While we will still have a book the incoming class will read, there will be a variety of programs connected to the book both during the summer and over the course of the fall semester. These will include:

  • ​Virtual content sharing of key themes and ideas over the summer months
  • Connection with Alumni Affairs in reading the selection
  • Speakers and programs during the year connected to the selection
  • One over-arching theme that connects the selection to programs here at Duke during the year

However, the biggest change is the format for hosting the author and discussion about the book and what we seek to do over the summer.

When students come to campus, instead of relying solely on FAC chats, our plan it to co-host a program at DPAC. We are excited about this new programming opportunity and see it as a chance to enhance our current DPAC program, add to the intellectual experience of the summer reading, and allow us to choose different types of books that can then be highlighted and/or performed for the incoming class.

As a reminder, the text selected for The Duke Common Experience is designed to give incoming students a shared intellectual connection with other members of their class. The selection committee who will choose the text is comprised of faculty, staff, and students.
In addition to being readable, enjoyable and engaging, the selection must:

  • Enrich the intellectual life of students
  • Promote a shared/common experience among first-year students
  • Prompt stimulating debate and lively discussion outside of the classroom
  • Foster interaction between and among peers

Suggestions for books can be made online at the fo​llowing website:
https://duke.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_dmsg2fhSFgUAHwV

Nominations will be taken through Friday, November 15th. Please feel free to suggest as many books as you'd like and pass along this message to students, faculty and other staff.

Thank you for your support of Duke's continual development of Orientation Week, the first year experience of our students and our collaboration with campus and community partners.

​Jordan Hale and Simon Partner
Co-Chairs, Duke Summer Reading Committee

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What I Say, As An RA

October is one of the hardest months of the fall semester, especially for freshmen. Up until midterms, the first few weeks of class are a time for settling in, meeting new people, and trying out new clubs at Duke. After about a month of wavering between friend groups and activities, many freshmen start to wear out and become frustrated with their experience. Around this same time, they are taking their first midterms and writing their first papers, adding to the overall stress of feeling uncomfortable here.

Midterms can leave freshmen shocked and disappointed with themselves. Most of them are accustomed to being straight-A, top of the class students, and they expect to continue this successful academic trend in college. It’s frustrating to work as hard in college as in high school, but receive substantially lower scores. In many math and science classes, the average test grade can be lower than 50%, and even though the freshmen know their classmates all failed the test with them, it’s still hard for them to feel comfortable with the score. It takes time at Duke to realize that being average here is something to be proud of. We’re surrounded by superstars of all types, inside and outside of the classroom, so being perfectly average is actually amazing compared to the world outside the Duke bubble. With time the freshman class will begin to understand that they don’t have to live up to the expectations of high school. Courses in college are designed differently than they are in high school, and it takes a couple semesters for students to build a new academic identity.

Another aspect of college freshmen struggle with during the fall is finding their niche. From O-Week up to about the third week of class, East Campus is an exciting place to be. There are always new people to meet and new events to attend. It’s almost like summer camp. As the school year becomes more intense, people have less free time and the social scene dies down. Freshmen start to feel lonely and can’t seem to find a place where they fit in at Duke. Friend groups from O-Week can dissolve quickly once classes start, and there aren’t any more large orientation events to help the entire class meet new people. After the activity fair is over it can also be difficult for freshmen to find student groups that interest them.

In my experience, it took more than the first few weeks to fully understand where I fit in at Duke. It took me my full freshman year, and my idea of where I belong is still evolving. It’s important for freshmen to keep trying new activities to meet new people, especially when they’re at the point of giving up. It’s frustrating to feel out of place for such a long time, but the only way they’ll find their place at Duke is if they continue exploring.

Balancing work and social life is a third way freshmen have to adjust around this time of year. This combines what I previously said: trying to get good grades while also making friends. School and social life always seem to be at odds with each other. To stay in and study, or go out and have fun? Something that impressed me my freshman year was how many people decided to stay in to do work rather than go out. It often seems like everyone goes out to parties on weekends, but only because we don’t see the people studying in their rooms or the library. It will take time, but eventually freshmen will find friend groups who will help each other make good decisions about balancing life.

If I could give all the freshmen one word of advice this semester (and I do as an RA), it would be “patience.” Balancing the workload and finding true friends takes time for everyone. No one makes a best friend immediately. Relationships need time to grow and strengthen. At this point in the semester it gets tough to keep a positive attitude through feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, but no freshman is alone in this struggle. It’s a class-wide difficulty that happens every year in college across the country. Luckily for the freshmen at Duke, they’re at one of the most diverse colleges in the nation. There’s something for everyone here, and as long as they don’t give up they’ll figure out where they fit in. Before we know it, the class of 2018 will be next year’s sophomores and a new set of freshmen will arrive on campus looking to them for guidance on how to find their way at Duke.

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My Residence Life Family

As a junior I thought I was prepared for the upcoming school year, especially in my role as a second year RA on East Campus. I expected my life to be relatively similar to my sophomore year in Bell Tower, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the changes that have come with a new RA team in Blackwell this year. Not only do I have 34 new freshmen in my hallway, but I also have five new RA’s who have become my residence life family.

Even as an RA, I sometimes feel slightly out of place being an upperclassman on a freshman campus. It’s hard to maintain relationships with the people in my own class because I live far away, and sometimes it’s difficult to be close friends with freshmen because they view RA’s as an authority. But that’s why it’s important to have a few RA friends who are in the same situation. Facing the same challenges brings us closer together, and when the RA team is strong, the overall community of the dorm is stronger, too.

The Blackwell team this year is five sophomores and myself, so I’ve become the “veteran” RA. I’m more confident this year in my ability to build community through planning events, and I’ve helped the new RA’s to learn about the logistics of our role; the paperwork, planning, and meetings can be a little confusing at the beginning of the year. However, I have had a lot to learn from them as well. They bring fresh new ideas to the team, and they have renewed my enthusiasm for building community. It can be frustrating when people don’t come to programs, but having a team of new RA’s who are excited to work hard for the dorm is refreshing and inspiring.

Before the freshmen arrived on campus, the RA’s went through a week of training to learn and practice the skill of solving problems. We discussed the policies and procedures of dealing with various situations ranging from alcohol and drugs to homesick and depressed students. It’s a lot of information to pack into one week, and after training during the day the teams in each dorm completed tasks such as putting up bulletin boards, making door decorations, and checking for damages. Training could be overwhelming and stressful, but the challenges provided a great way to bond with the other RA’s on our teams. We worked in small groups to accomplish tasks and shared individual experiences during training sessions to help each other learn about new ways to solve problems. When we weren’t working we spent time together at the gym, watching movies, and getting to know one another better. I’m appreciative to have such a supportive team to work with this year, and I’m excited to see how we’ll continue working together to create a home for the freshmen of Blackwell.

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New Off-Campus Housing Site

Looking for off-campus housing? Housing, Dining and Residence Life (HDRL) has you covered!

We are proud to announce the launch of a new website to simplify the off-campus housing search for students, parents, faculty and staff, and for area property owners and managers.

The new site offers a user-friendly, searchable database for housing around campus, and in the broader Durham area. It includes photographs and floor plans; descriptions of amenities; maps showing proximity to campus; links to property owner information; a roommate matching feature; and more.

We hope you find this tool useful in your search for off campus housing that meets your needs.

For more information, please visit studentaffairs.duke.edu/hdrl and click on “living off campus” in the left hand menu. Questions? Contact HDRL at housing@studentaffairs.duke.edu.

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Green Dining Awards

Duke Dining locations recognized for sustainability efforts!

It isn't uncommon for Fares Hanna, the owner of Twinnie's and Blue Express eateries on campus, to spend time researching user-friendly, compostable to-go containers or rearranging his kitchens to accommodate reusable china and silverware.

Both locations were just crowned "Most Improved" in the Green Dining Awards, which highlights Duke eateries and their sustainable practices every year, since 2010.

Read more.

 

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Duke Dining Bans Styrofoam

Read about it here on Duke Today!

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