Have You Heard?

University Center Activities & Events

University Center Activities & Events

What I Learned from the SNAP Challenge

Four dollars.  On Duke’s campus, that could get you a single bowl of soup at the Loop.  Most of us spend far more than four dollars on each meal we eat, with Duke’s minimum meal plan allotting $20 per day.  However, for a great number of North Carolinians, four dollars is all they have to feed themselves each and every day.  Four dollars is the daily allowance given by North Carolina’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also formerly known as Food Stamps.  In the month of October in Durham County alone, over 44,000 individuals were utilizing SNAP.  Hunger and concern for where one’s next meal will come from is a daily reality for too many. 


To shed light on how challenging it can be to eat on so restricted a budget, I chose to participate in the Duke SNAP Challenge, hosted this past Wednesday through Friday by UCAE.  Armed with my $12, I started my challenge at Harris Teeter, knowing there’d be no way to feed myself on food points with so little.  Despite not having much to spend, that trip to the grocery store was one of the longest I’ve taken in a while.  Instead of mindlessly browsing the aisles, sipping my Starbucks and throwing whatever looked good into my cart, I spent over an hour scouring the weekly coupon flyer and scanning the shelves for special savings offers.  I stood in front of the canned goods for over five minutes, adding together different totals in my head to find the best deal.  I circled through the store at least twice, having to take some things back out of my basket to stay under budget and sadly avoiding the fresh produce section in favor of the quantity I could purchase in boxes and cans.  At the register, I ended up with a large container of oatmeal, two bags of frozen vegetables, three bananas, two large cans of chicken, a jar of applesauce, two boxes of rice and beans mix, and 70 cents left over.  For the three days of the challenge, my single bag of groceries allowed me a banana and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast each morning and a serving of veggies with a bowl of beans, rice, and chicken for each lunch and dinner.  In between meals, I snacked occasionally out of my applesauce jar. 


By Friday evening I was in no way starving, but after three days of eating the same three, simple meals, I couldn’t help but think of the variety I would be able to indulge in over the weekend after the challenge was over.  I quickly caught myself though as I remembered that what I was treating as a 72-hour “challenge” is a reality that over 1.5 million North Carolinians face 365 days out of the year.  While I pile up my veggies in the salad bar line at Penn and swipe my DukeCard at the register without even asking about my total, thousands of families are struggling to put a meal on the table for dinner, let alone three daily nutritious and balanced ones.  It’s so easy to fall into the habits of mindless consumption and instant gratification, taking for granted the convenience and variety of food we have surrounding us at Duke.  We are quick to grumble about the ABP sandwich line but we fail to recognize that it’s a privilege just to be able to satisfy an afternoon snack craving, that the latte so many of us have consumed before 9am costs more than what a fellow Durhamite might be able to spend on food all day.  We’re constantly complaining to one another about how much stress we’re under with all of our exams and final papers, but imagine adding to that the stress of meticulously pinching every penny just to afford lunch, of getting nervous every time you approach the register because maybe you’ll have to leave the line to put something back, of not being able to focus on your work because your stomach is growling but eating is not an option. 


I’ll be the first to shamefully admit that I fall into these habits and make these complaints all too regularly.  I also know my mere participation in the SNAP challenge does nothing to change the face of hunger in North Carolina or the daily lived realities of SNAP enrollees.  It’s what happens now that the challenge is over that matters – approaching my meals with more mindfulness and gratitude, trying harder to eliminate my food waste, spending my food points more sparingly so I can also buy food to donate to Durham’s local food pantries and soup kitchens.  As we approach the holiday season, a time that too often celebrates consumption over concern for others, I would invite all of you to do your own SNAP challenge.  Or even better, volunteer to take action against hunger in Durham or your hometown.  At the very least, challenge yourself to be more mindful and thankful – so when you go to post that foodstagram of your Thanksgiving plate with your #blessed caption, think twice about how fortunate we truly are.  

There are 0 comments on this post

Service Information for Alexander Rickabaugh and Kaila Brown

Student Affairs will be arranging transportation to the funeral and memorial services of Alexander Rickabaugh. We hope to accommodate all students who would like to attend these services via chartered bus.  In order to meet transportation demands please complete the following questions to reserve a spot:

We are working out options for food on the bus for the way out and back, but if you have specific dietary needs, please bring food with you.

Services will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Details below.

Friday, September 26th:
The funeral service will be held at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem (646 W. 5th St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101). The family will receive friends following the service.

The schedule will be as follows:

  • Bus staged at 4:00pm
  • Bus departure time from the West Campus Bus Stop at 4:45pm
  • Funeral at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem at 7:00pm
  • Bus leaves from Winston-Salem at approximately 9:00pm
  • Bus returns after the funeral to the West Campus Bus Stop at approximately 10:30pm

Saturday, September 27th:
Memorial program at Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville, NC
If you would like to attend this memorial program please note the following. Bus transportation will be provided for students interested in attending, leaving from the West Campus Bus Stop at 8:00am.

The schedule will be as follows:

  • Bus staged at 7:30am
  • Bus leaves at 8:00am
  • Memorial Service at Forsyth Country Day (5501 Shallowford Rd., Lewisville, NC 27023) 10:00am
  • Bus leaves from Forsyth Country Day at 11:30am
  • Bus arrives back on West Campus at approximately 1:30pm

Sunday, September 28:
Additionally, On Sunday morning at the start of the 11am worship service in Duke Chapel there will be a silent procession of roses for Alex and Kaila. This is a way of remembering them, honoring their lives and providing a space for community grief in the midst of Duke’s weekly Chapel service.

We have not yet heard anything more about memorial plans for Kaila Brown. I'll be sure to let you know if we do.

We will continue to do all we can to offer support and comfort to all. I urge each of you to take advantage of all opportunities for care should you or anyone you know be in distress. All students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 919-660-1000 and in an emergency, please call Duke Police at 919-684-2444 or by dialing 911.

You can also contact DukeReach (http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/dukereach1) at 919-681-2455 or at dukereach@duke.edu.

There are 0 comments on this post

Sweet Life Illuminated

Portland-based artist Carter Hubbard installed Sweet Life Illuminated in the Bryan Center this Monday. The visually striking and colorful "spoondelier", comprised of more than 9,000 discarded ice cream spoons from a local business, hangs just to the left of the main entrance to the Bryan Center.

"I'm very interested in processes, and how cognizant people are of their actions. I want them to do their research," said Hubbard. "I seek to know better the underlying, fundamental systems and their inherent motivations and effects, beneficial and detrimental."

Watching these spoons go quickly into the recycling bin as people tasted and ate flavors of ice cream, Hubbard knew there was an artistic opportunity here to create something beautiful and make a statement.

A collector at heart, Hubbard convinced the business to allow her to gather, sanitize and organize more than 38,000 discarded spoons over the course of a year. "I considered several ideas for what to do with the spoons, and this is the one that really made sense."

The final product combines multiple colors of spoons that not only catch the eye, but also start a conversation about the "opulence of our culture, and what it really takes" to create the ease we experience every day.

Hubbard plans to use the remaining spoons to create jewelry, and even has an idea for a dress decorated with spoons.

Read more about the artist: http://carterhubbard.com/

There are 0 comments on this post

CLDSA From A Student's Perspective

Working at the Center for Leadership Development and Social Action this past year as a sophomore has been extremely engaging and eye-opening, and has been both a learning experience and really fun. Over the course of the semester, I helped coordinate and assist with logistics of most of the Center's biggest programs such as Framework Fridays, Leaders in Residence Lunches, Alternative Spring Break, and the Leadership and Service Awards. My duties ranged from small office tasks like emailing, making phone calls, and copying important files to more exciting things such as introducing and meeting some of the greatest faculty on campus to learning more about the importance of leadership and what it looks like at Duke.

My favorite project of the year was working on the Leadership and Service Awards, because of several different reasons. I appreciated how collaborative of an effort planning Awards was; every member of the student staff was working on a different aspect of the event, and the other Duke staff members' enthusiasm about the it made it a really enjoyable experience. The actual event was spectacular as well! Members of the student staff each hosted a different part of the event, from greeting and assisting attendees with registration, to working the technology to create and show the awards presentation, to MCing the actual event! However, the biggest reason why Awards was my favorite project of the year was because of the recognition that so many amazing students got for doing fantastic jobs in both areas of leadership and service here on campus. Even though not every nominee received an award, each of their resumés were equally impressive and inspiring. I was so happy that they received the recognition they deserved!

During high school, I was involved in a lot of different leadership organizations, and thought I had a pretty good grip on my definition of leadership. Over the course of working this position as a student staff member for the Center, however, I found that there was still a lot more to learn! I enjoyed working under the newly developed Leadership Framework which consisted of three components: Citizenship, Character and Collaboration. If I could offer one piece of advice for anyone practicing leadership (which should be everyone!) it would be to lead with those three components in mind.

As the Center continues to grow, I hope more and more students learn about what we do and even apply to work with us! There really is a lot to gain from working here, and the connections that you make with both the other student staff members and the Duke staff and faculty is truly amazing! Next year, the Center and its programs can only get better!

There are 0 comments on this post

CLDSA From A Student's Perspective

While working at the Center for Leadership Development and Social Action, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the inner workings of the University. My first set of CLDSA duties focused on familiarizing me with the Duke University Leadership Framework and the 3 C’s (“Character, Collaboration, and Citizenship to bring about positive Change”), which aligned very closely with my own goals as a leader. This similarity between the Center’s goals and my own originally came to me as a surprise, due to the fact that my view of leadership had been shaped by my seemingly disconnected life experiences (i.e. sports, friendships, and academia). After learning about the different departments of the University Center for Activities & Events (UCAE) and their functions, I went to work on spreading leadership knowledge and skills with the greater Duke community through open events such as Leadership Lunches and Framework Fridays.

As my experience as a student staff member in the CLDSA increased, so did my role in our office’s programming. In fact, there are two instances where my work in our office’s programming truly impacted me as a leader: the first was planning an event with the Duke Hazing Prevention Committee on January 31st, and the second was preparing awards for the Leadership and Service Awards on April 21st.

As the leader of a student organization on campus, namely, a Greek-lettered organization, there are many questions to consider in order to maximize the operating potential for the group. The CLDSA, in collaboration with the Hazing Prevention Committee, hoped to raise the question: “Do Good Leaders Haze?” During this Hazing Prevention Week event, students and faculty discussed instances of hazing on campus and beyond in order to reach an understanding about the practice, as well as to offer solutions to the issue. What I took away from this event was that, as a leader, one must constantly reflect on his own actions, as well as those within his tenure, to ensure that the ethics of any practice isn’t overruled by its perceived benefit to the organization. The event taught me that it is important to think critically of every action taken by the group, and not to follow any questionable tradition in blind faith.

Moving forward, a second example of work that has impacted me as a member of the CLDSA team was the preparation of awards for the Leadership ceremony in April. In actuality, this process consisted of washing rocks. As it was explained to me, one of the office members had the idea to clean and present awards in the form of “Duke Rocks” to certain Leadership and Service Award recipients; but as I was sitting in front of the stones, preparing my mental for a lovely Paleolithic manicure, I started to question what all of it was for…

Why am I working here?

What do rocks have to do with leadership?

How clean can a rock REALLY get?

Instead of taking the experience for granite (hehe), I chose to take the time to evaluate my situation. There are many people out there who hate their jobs; I was not one of them. In fact, I was more than happy to get my hands dirty for a job that I truly enjoyed. What is a good leader, if not someone who is willing to sacrifice the most for his group, without a complaint or ill-thought? The humility to carry out necessary tasks in such a manner is vital for the success of any leader in life, as well as within the organization. I came out of that situation with not just baby-soft hands, but also with a valuable experience that I could carry over into my life as a student, and as a human being.

Throughout these lines, I have detailed my experiences as a member of the Center, as well as implicitly listing reasons why any student would want to work here. With a friendly, vibrant staff and a welcoming atmosphere, the CLDSA is perfect for the rising student who would like to develop himself and others as leaders in their respective communities. Such opportunities make working at the UCAE Center for Leadership Development and Social Action the ideal choice for any student.


There are 0 comments on this post

CLDSA From A Student's Perspective

I’m Mary Wilson, a sophomore and I work in the UCAE Center for Leadership Development and Social Action. What I love about the job is that no two days are the same. Some days I promote upcoming events in the center on social media (hey! follow us on twitter @dukeUCAE). Other times I spend 20 minutes getting lost in hallways behind Griffith while trying to deliver a letter. Once I organized markers for an hour (super relaxing) and more recently I’ve spent many hours staring at spreadsheets and unwillingly memorizing the dinner choice of almost everyone who came to the Student Leadership Service awards.

A lot went on behind the scenes to make the Student Leadership Awards happen. Event planning is very involved. There’s the communication with the nominees that Lindsey handled flawlessly. Jessica made this pro-status slideshow. Phillip MC-ed the event and Brian and Felipe and Sonam and Abe all kicked ass in their own way  that I’m not completely aware of because I was too busy comparing qualtrics data. So, to actually make it to the Waduke and see the whole event unfold was pretty cool.

During the awards ceremony however I couldn’t help but think about what an awards ceremony actually is—an attempt to recognize and honor the leadership put forth by Duke students. I know some of the people who received awards and I know that it meant a lot to them to be presented with those awards. One of my teammates, Caroline Kiritsy, won the Baldwin unsung heroine award. In my opinion, she absolutely deserved it. This is a girl who (as it explained in the nomination process) helped to found the student organization, Athlete Ally (with the help of other awesome deserving teammates and other athletes). But what didn’t go mentioned is how she is also perusing the patenting process for one of her engineering projects. Or that she brings her A game to 6am practice after late night/early morning problem sets. Those witnessing the distribution of Caroline’s award couldn’t truly understand her patience or the positive attitude she brings while enduring freezing rain and mud. Overall, she is a person who has a strong desire and matched effort to make the people around her better.

At the same time, there were plenty of other students who are tremendous leaders and yet weren’t even invited to the awards ceremony. (I know this because of all those spreadsheets I looked at.) It’s important to acknowledge that while giving awards can be very rewarding, it is a flawed system of recognizing and honoring the leaders around us. This is not to belittle the effort put in by my coworkers and bosses, but just a reminder that the end goal of leadership is not and nor should it ever be a plaque or fancy dinner at the Waduke.

I think that it is sometimes easy to lose sight of what the real goals of leadership are and can be. Frist of all, leadership is not a just title, award, resume builder or especially ego builder. In fact, the best leaders I’ve seen have two things in common. Firstly they spend time with the people they are leading because they genuinely care about their wellbeing, and have respect for them. Secondly, leaders embrace doing the grunt work alongside of the people they are working with. Leaders also have a vision for the group and a sense of both grit and confidence in the organizations mission and goals. Leadership is a major buzzword and what it means in our society is in the process of changing and we at Duke can have an impact in that change based on not just our future careers, but our daily actions.  [more?]


There are 0 comments on this post


Subscribe to RSSUniversity Center Activities & Events