With Spring Break (for those of you who get the time off) about a week away, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you well with the rest of the semester and offer a few thoughts about current events and their implications for many of you. It is not my intent to make this a political commentary, but I want to be sure to express my concerns for the many of you who might be feeling insecure or vulnerable right now as things rapidly change in the national scene. Here’s what I want to say:
My name is Nicholas Antonicci, I use the pronouns he/him/his, and I'm the Director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity here at Duke University.
Yesterday, I woke to the news of tragedy of 50 innocent people killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a gay bar on a night celebrating Latinx people and communities.
I struggle to put feelings and emotions into words, to put pain into soundbites that appease and comfort those around me.
I struggle with balancing immense sadness for the lives lost, with anger at the forces which allowed this to happen and will continue to happen, namely homophobia and transphobia. I balance wanting to care for others, with frustration in the ways many of those who are responding are centering the feelings of heterosexual and cis peoples.
Today we grieve over yet another mass murder. I'm heartbroken as are, undoubtedly, all of you at this tragic loss of life. It appears that this horrible incident targeted the Orlando LGBTQ community and our hearts go out to their families, friends, as well as to all who are affected by this. Our thoughts are also with our Duke LGBTQ communities and we want to be sure that you have all the support you need. Our CAPS staff, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, DukeReach staff and all of us in Student Affairs and throughout Duke are available to you for support and care. Please don't hesitate to contact any one of us as needed. The Duke Police can put you in direct communications with our 24 hour on-call staff who can arrange for any necessary support.
The wait begins.
Yesterday I found out that I had become victim of government beaurocracy and needed to go to DC to arrange a passport emergency. Last minute trip = little financial flexibility. Megabus it is. Gulp.
I get to the bus stop. Trepidation. I see several tired looking people in line in front of me. One woman holds a cigarette between her hands, getting the last hit before the 6-feels-like-60 hour-long journey begins. (I can’t blame her. I find myself trying to soak up all the fresh air I can.) Another man holds a plastic bag for his travel belongings. Everyone looks so tired, just like at Duke.
I get seated on the Megabus. Why is it that they seem to smell like a mixture between floral soap, cigarettes, and baby powder?
Once again, Duke University will host an early voting site for the upcoming primary election in North Carolina. The polling site will be located at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life, 1415 Faber Street, and will run daily from Thursday, March 3, to Saturday, March 12. Hours will vary throughout the week and can be found on the elections board’s website.
The site will be open to Durham County registered voters only. Durham County residents are eligible to vote at the site if they are a U.S. citizen and a legal resident of Durham County for 30 days by the date of the election. Voters must be at least 18 years old, although individuals who are 17 can register and vote if they will be 18 by the November general election.
Dear Duke Families,
As I look out my office window, I have the privilege of seeing our students walking (and rushing) by between classes, meals, meetings and study venues. So many things are apparent on the rare occasion that I get to just pause and admire the passersby. I notice that many seem either immune to the winter chill or in denial about the need to wear warmer clothes! I notice that rarely is anyone walking alone. Students travel in pairs, groups and masses! I notice that some kind of technological device is apparently welded to their ears or their palms (hopefully talking or texting with you). But, I also notice how remarkably different they are, reflecting the substantial and wonderful diversity within the Duke student body.
Jack D explains what happened:
As many of you know, early in the morning yesterday someone entered my dorm and sprawled on the wall of the first floor, “Death to all fags @ Jack.” In just five words and an ‘at’ symbol, my sense of security and safety on this campus was shattered.
Efforts have been made to find the assailant but the likelihood of success seems minimal. However, the person who wrote on the wall is greatly unimportant.
I would like for people to understand who I am. I wish to be a peer and not a name. I grew up near Boston with a single mother and siblings. I played sports throughout school and spent summers volunteering. I am a freshman but have lived as a proudly out and visible gay man on Duke’s campus. I am Jack. I am the fag. I do not deserve this treatment. No one deserves this treatment.
Yesterday, a wall of East Hall was defaced with defamatory language aimed at the LGBTQ+ community and an individual Duke student. While the language has been painted over, it does not erase the pain and fear. This is a very serious incident and we will continue to investigate. If you have information that you think would be helpful to us in learning more about who is responsible, we encourage you to contact the police or other university official.
Peer For You is now welcoming applications for Peer Responders to serve Duke students for next year.
Applications due March 16. Apply now.
We are a student-run resource that provides the space for undergraduate students to reach out for support and referrals in times of struggle. Any Duke student can send an anonymous message to one of our Peer Responders about a struggle or challenge that they are currently facing. The approached Peer Responder will respond to the message within 24 hours.