Have You Heard?

Student Affairs

Student Affairs

Dear PNMs

Dear PNMs,

You're finally done. You can finally breathe and try to return to normal life, untainted by the judgment of women (yes, women, not girls) you hardly know and who hardly know you. You're done with the silly title of "Potential New Member." Some of you are new members now, some of you are not. Some of you knew what sorority you'd be in throughout the entire recruitment process because you're friends with the older members and you're a legacy and you know how to socialize with the right people. Some of you went into rush bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and completely unaware of where you'd end up and now you couldn't be more thrilled to call these new friends your sisters. Some of you got into a top-tier sorority only to experience Bid Day, alone and excluded, wondering if you made a mistake in your choice. Some of you opened your envelopes to bid cards bearing the name of a sorority you never wanted to begin with but had to list as a choice. Some of you cried on Bid Day. Some of you cried before Bid Day. Some of you didn't even make it to Bid Day.

Every single one of you dressed your best for each round. Some of you bought entirely new outfits for the process. You curled your hair, or you straightened your hair, or you tried the messy bun look or a braid or maybe you just let it go natural. Women of color, the courageous few of you probably tried to look as Caucasian as possible, because that's how you make it in this system. Some of you wore makeup, or maybe you didn't (but you probably did). All of you went into this whole process knowing that you would be judged (on how you looked). Before each party, you would ask the women next to you in line if you had any granola bar stuck in your teeth (the Convention Center refused to feed you...as if Potential New Members of sororities needed another thing to worry about). You'd pop a mint or a piece of gum, and hope no one could tell how much you were sweating.

You enter the room to clapping, singing, shouting, and other overwhelming noises. You are surrounded by smiling, laughing, happy, "beautiful" women who have been granted the power of judging you and deciding your social fate simply because the system favored them in one way or another. You make small talk about majors and hometowns with women who seem truly, genuinely interested in you. You try to be as engaging as possible. You try to stand out, but not too much. You leave the party feeling good about how your conversations went, relieved that rush isn't as scary as everyone made you think it would be.

Before the next round, your Gamma Chi gives you the tiny slip of paper (that you'll try all day not to lose) listing all the parties you've been invited back to. Some of you get all of your top choices (and you knew you would); some of you are pleasantly surprised by how many you got invited back to. Some of you realize the conversations you were so confident went so well didn't go as well as you thought, because some of you get "cut." Some of you get "cut" by several sororities. Some of you drop out of rush.

Some of you get called back to all of your top choices for the next two rounds; your conversations move beyond small talk and you start to see these women (who will judge you) as friends, as Potential New Sisters. Some of you tell your friends what sorority you know you'll join; some of you get over-confident. Some of you receive your slip on the day of Round 4, only to be crushed by the power of judgment. Some of you finally get cut. Some of you move on, making the best of it all and continuing with recruitment. Some of you quit.

And now, fast forward through preference night and Bid Day and it's over. Now, whether you're in a sorority or not, you can look back on the process and reflect. If you didn't end up where you thought you wanted to be, you may blame yourself. You're not pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough or unique enough. And if you're saying any of these things, you're wrong. But no matter how many times your friends and family tell you you're perfect just the way you are, that it's the sorority's loss that they missed out on you, you won't believe it. Because you still got cut. You weren't enough. You didn't fit the mold established by a system that encourages and promotes young women judging other women on entirely superficial standards. And even though you should believe and know that you are worth so much more than the meaningless and unfair judgments of girls who do not know you, that you are beautiful because you are you, that your worth is not determined by the letters or lack of letters on your sweatshirt, you will still probably think that there is something wrong with you, when, in fact, there is nothing wrong at all.

And if you did end up where you wanted to be, you're probably ecstatic right now. And you should be happy and excited, because you are special. You might start to see yourself as better than other women; you were selected, they were not. You are in a certain sorority, while they are in another. And while it's easy to do this, and the system reinforces this thinking, you can't let these letters change the way you act or treat people. Because just days ago, you were a PNM just like everyone else. No one is better than anyone else in this system, despite what some may think. You are just as terrified as everyone else of being judged.

So, PNMs, or NMs, or independents, or whatever title you prefer, I urge you to take your new letters or lack of letters with a grain of salt. In the end, they are simply letters. We attach meaning and significance to them, no doubt, but they do not define you or anyone else. Ultimately, what matters is not the judgment of women you hardly know who hardly know you, but instead, the fact that you are awesome, wonderful, kickass you.


Sorority Member Still Being Judged

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BigFix and You

With the continued and exciting growth of our division, Student Affairs Information Technology Services (SA-ITS) has introduced BigFix, just one of our new enterprise tools that will be assisting on our mission to provide individual level attention and support even on a large scale.  SA-ITS is confident that this tool will reduce the need for service requests that involve minor plug in updates and allow for less downtime sifting through the dozens of updates that come out on a weekly basis from software vendors.  BigFix will also allow for increased transparency to Student Employees that may use multiple workstations in multiple division departments being that all updates on all workstations will be standardized.

The BigFix platform allows SA-ITS to take a unified approach to managing hot fixes and updates to all of our Student Affairs workstations.  In addition,these updates will run silently as a background process without prompting that anything is being installed.  This avoids workflow interruption versus having to contact the helpdesk to remote in to install the update for you for.  Users will only be aware of the BigFix application when  prompted to save their work and restart the computer (more on that later).  
Workstations with our BigFix agent will constantly be checking-in to the campus shared masthead server regardless of your location in the world.  The agent queries relevant updates based for your individual computer and ignoring non-relevant updates that you already have or do not need.  These updates can range from common plug-ins such as Adobe Flash Player and Java Runtime Environment that we have all seen before; to more custom SA-ITS packages for example: a blocker that prevents the new version Internet Explorer from updating to Version 10 which is not yet compatible with many Duke University/Duke Medicine online resources.  We can later apply a reverse action script once the platform is more stable.

If new updates have been applied to your workstation, you will notice the following prompt:

At this time you have the option to take the action (in this case the action is to restart your workstation) or you can delay the action for a specific amount of time of your choosing.

In the scenario that 24 hours past after the initial prompt without a action taken on your part, the request will lock to the top layer of your desktop until you take the action to ensure that workstations are receiving their updates in a timely manner.

SA-ITS is still adjusting the frequency of required restarts after updates have been installed (currently once per week).  If you have any suggestions feel free to leave us a comment below!




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Feminism: Our Past, Present and Future

For this blog post, some of the interns at the Women’s Center decided to share our personal history with feminism. We have all had different experiences and there isn’t a singular theme among our stories, but we hope that our experiences encourage others in the Duke community to explore what feminism means to them.


From Colleen O’Connor (Community Building and Organizing Intern): `


From a very young age, I was aware of gender dynamics.  My first ‘feminist puzzle piece,’ so to speak, came when I was in preschool and I approached my friend Pablo playing blocks alone.  As I went over to join him, Pablo pushed me away and told me that I was not allowed to play with the blocks because I was a girl and blocks were for boys.  At the time, I recognized how unfair it was that I was excluded from doing something because I was a girl.  I received a similar reaction, although without physical pushing, when I told my peers and adults that I wanted to be the first woman president.  Oftentimes, the reaction was one of “Hmm. Girls can’t be presidents though” or “I don’t think you want to get involved in politics, honey.” I realized that my friends and family were making judgment calls about what I could and could not do and it just felt wrong.  

Fast-forward a few years to when I arrived at Duke. My first year seminar was Gender and Sports with Professor Donna Lisker, and she challenged me to think about my gender and how I live it out in my everyday life. During this semester, I collected many puzzle pieces, questioning why there are only male priests in Church and why in my social life I felt as though I was in a bind where neither sexual activity nor sexual inactivity was right.

It was not until the fall of my sophomore year, though, that I began to think about power and privilege dynamics beyond my gender. That semester, I took Feminist Art in the 1970s, a course on the exhibit The Deconstructive Impulse, and I participated on Common Ground. I began to realize that feminism is much bigger than gender issues, but really focuses on systemic oppression.  I became conscious of the privilege I have in being white and suddenly noticed the extreme heteronormativity in my daily life. It was like wearing glasses for the first time. For me, feminist activism became a strong desire to create change in something bigger than myself, focusing on the intersectionalities of oppression.

I declared a Women’s Studies major, participated in The Moxie Project, and began to engage in activism on campus. I became more confident in myself and felt comfortable opening up a dialogue when I heard sexist, homophobic, or racist language. I have come to realize that I have been a girl activist all along, and I can effectively make change in our community.  Like a puzzle, there are still many pieces that are yet to be found. Yet piece-by-piece, the whole picture is coming into view.


From McCall Hollie (Gender Equity and Leadership Intern):


I used to shy away from the term "feminist" as one with which to describe myself. I saw it as the inaccurate stigma I fear many misinterpret it to be: man-hating, bra-burning (did you know that never actually happened? Bras are too expensive to burn, anyway), preachy, angry, and unreceptive to modern culture. Where these confusing stereotypes came from I don't think I could tell you, but I can say with confidence I no longer associate feminism with aforementioned negatively-connoted ideas. Being a Duke student, and one affiliated with the Women's Center, has enabled me to develop a far more accurate and positive image of feminism that I now strongly identify with. Being a feminist means believing in equality--for everyone. Feminists fight not only for the rights of women but also for marginalized populations such as racial minorities or LGBTQIA community, among many others. As a feminist, I actively make an effort in my daily life to make the world around me a welcoming and accepting place for all. I don't hate men, I don't burn my bras, I do not preach my ideas, nor am I unreceptive to those of others. I'm also not angry, but instead I am empowered and motivated to make positive change.




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Welcome Back!!

(Written by Women's Center Student Staff)
The Women's Center has always had a welcome back party, but there was something special about the one this year. It was the first time that the student staff (all of the interns and PACT trainers) came together and independently planned the party, it was the Women's Center's first big event of the year, but really we think it was the number of students, faculty, and other Duke community members that came to the party that made it so special. In years past, there have always been individuals who were strongly associated with the Center who came to the party. This year we had a record number of first-year students and other new faces come and share. It really showed us how the Women's Center has grown, and the party set a great tone for year to come.
We planned for this event at the Women's Center retreat! We divided up the work by breaking up into different teams which included a Marketing Team, a Refreshment Team, and a Poster Team. The marketing team came up with some cool advertisements to put up on Facebook, the refreshments team coordinated getting the italian ice and the other snacks, and the poster team came up with the posters that were going to go in the lower lounge. The day of the party grew closer and closer, and we all looked forward to it with excitement. Finally, it was Friday; with the advertisements up on Facebook and the refreshments on the way, everything was looking great. Of course SOMETHING always has to go wrong when EVERYTHING is going right.  When the intern who was taking care of printing all the posters, showed up without any, we were all very surprised. We thought he had left the posters in his house or someone was bringing them later, but it turned out the poster printer had broken! We were left without any of the posters, so we decided to convert the lower lounge to a hangout space. Thankfully we were able to do this and waited for the party to finally start.
Once the clock hit four, the Women’s Center was already buzzing with both new and old faces. Newcomers were welcomed with plenty of food to eat, people to meet, and activities to do. Most people made a beeline for the free Rita’s Italian Ice when they first arrived but stayed to chat with the staff and interns about all of the resources the Women's Center has to offer. Interns encouraged party-goers to find their place at the Women's Center by checking out all of the awesome programs and groups offered, such as the Women’s Collective, FEMCAMP, WHO Speaks, Develle Dish and more. The party ended with a fun game of picking provocative questions out of a fishbowl. We (student and senior staff) all agreed that the party was a huge success!

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True Blue: Meet Robert Ansel

What is college life? What is it really that defines the ground floor of the quintessential American college experience? After two years at Duke University, I’m only just beginning to understand the answer to that question. Here’s a head start: The answer is you. You are the one and only factor that will define what college life is to each and every person you tell about ‘the good old days’ when you attended one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States.
My name is Robert Ansel, and I am a representative of the Duke University Wellness Center, and a member of the cast of True Blue. I am also an Electrical and Computer Engineering major, you know, one of those nerdy guys that can’t introduce themselves without a stutter, much less write a coherent essay. Then again maybe I like to defy expectations. I’m an active member in an on campus fraternity and participate in a variety of athletic and artistic extracurricular activities as well. I believe I’ve spent the last two years of my life in meaningful ways and with decidedly good intentions. That’s the cliff note summary of who I have become, but if you ever get the chance to know me you’d see much more.

The types of activities I’ve chosen only represent a small portion of what defines my college experience. I’ve had the time to sift through the many opportunities laid out before me to help shape myself into the individual writing this blog post. This process boils down to choices and expectations. In college, you will become the person who will live the rest of your life; and if you think you already are that person, you’ll soon find that you’re looking back and already seeing the changes that have taken place.  You will have to choose how to conduct yourself in a wide variety of circumstances and how to influence those around you. You will be faced with an eclectic variety of personal decisions ranging from how you will be influenced by your peers to how to deal with personal disappointment, loss and misfortune.

Issues like the consumption (or not) of alcohol, interactions with the opposite sex, washing your dirty socks, and dealing with the mounting pressure leading up to your exams will be some of the foundational experiences you will face. The Duke Wellness center can be a powerful resource for all of these issues (okay not all, but 3 out of 4 isn’t bad). To me, being a member of the cast of True Blue allows me to represent a possible route to one of many good college experiences, and striving to share my less pleasant mistakes so that others may not need to make them for themselves.

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