I welcome the Class of 2020 and welcome back the rest of you. Summer has flown by and we've been working hard to be ready for you. Our newest students have already experienced what I hope they have found to be an informative, inspiring and enjoyable orientation (and pre-o). The rest of you have come back to finally find West Union open (and incredible!), our new student health building getting closer to opening (early 2017), our new arts center on Campus Drive moving along quite nicely, and a new residence hall under construction on East Campus. We have new spaces for our Latinx and Asian-American communities in the Bryan Center and I imagine those of you in Wannamaker were quite surprised by the beauty of that renovation.
There are many new faces to meet all over campus including our newest deans of the Pratt School and the Divinity School. I hope you'll meet some of our new staff in UCAE, the Center for Multicultural Affairs, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the Career Center, and throughout the campus. We are so fortunate to have recruited so many really talented and cool people!
There are a few messages I hope you'll indulge me in sharing. I begin by noting that we have begun the year already with too many students transported to the hospital for intoxication. One is too many...and we've already seen five. We recognize that the college years are a time of experimentation, but there are significant risks in excessive drinking and nationally, sadly, we have already seen tragic occurrences. Please, please be careful and responsible!
And to those of you hosting or attending off campus parties, I offer fair warning. Neighbors are well organized to respond to large and loud crowds and Durham police will be issuing citations. You don't want to be standing in front of a Durham magistrate for under-age drinking, or, worse for having served minors or violating local noise, or other local/state ordinances.
Sexual assault is a pervasive challenge here at Duke as on all college campuses. Bystander intervention (PACT training at Duke) offers some promise as a technique to empower each of you to interrupt the plans of predators and others who can't understand the meaning of consent. Please watch out for each other and act courageously when you see behaviors you know to be wrong. Take the time to review Duke's policies on Sexual Misconduct (http://bit.ly/DukeSSMP) and understand what affirmative consent means. Understand that consequences for a violation are extremely severe with expulsion (permanent removal from Duke) as the first considered response for a violation.
I want to bring to your attention one change to the Duke Community Standard set of policies that was made subsequent to going to print. Thus, it does not appear in the printed booklet but is reflected in the sanctions section of the online version of the DCS Guide (see: https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/conduct/undergraduate-disciplinary-system/sanctions).
This text has been added:
“Should a hearing panel/officer determine that a violation was motivated in part or whole by race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, genetic information, or age, the hearing panel/officer may consider this an aggravating factor that increases the stringency of the sanction(s).”
This change results from discussions held by the Bias Hate Task Force appointed last year by President Brodhead. You'll hear more about the outcomes of the Task Force's work in the coming days.
Duke University is pleased to provide you with a new safety app, LiveSafe. The free app allows you to send real-time tips through the touch of a button to the Duke University Police Department, which monitors messages 24/7. With the popular “SafeWalk” feature, you can invite friends to virtually walk you to a destination on a real-time map.
Please download the LiveSafe app at the App Store or get it on Google play.
Tomorrow begins First Big Week and I hope to see you at many of the events. On Friday, we'll celebrate the re-opening of West Union though I expect that most of you will have visited this week and marveled at the architecture and at the food! Check out the schedule for the week at https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/ucae/programs/first-big-week
As our returning students know, you'll hear from me periodically throughout the year. Unfortunately, some of my communications will be with regard to incidents and tragedies around the world. Sometimes, I get to tell you to sleep in because of weather conditions. And occasionally, you'll hear messages like this one...asking you to think about conditions on campus and ways we can all work together to make your Duke experience the best it can be.
I look forward to getting to know as many of you as I can (I do accept Flunch invitations!) and wish you a great year ahead.
Vice President for Student Affairs