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:
With great sadness, we share that Savannah Goodman, T '18, passed away this morning, December 19th, after complications from a bone marrow transplant. She was diagnosed with an immune deficiency disorder at Duke Hospital at age 6 and was fulfilling her lifelong dream of studying Pre-Med at Duke so that she could become a pediatric immunologist to treat children much like herself. Savannah was active with Jewish Life at Duke, the Duke Student Wellness Center, was a tour guide for Duke Admissions, and loved Duke Basketball.
465 miles away. 9 hours and 30 minutes away by bus. 7 hours and 45 minutes away by car. 1 hour and 30 minutes away by plane.
As we waved goodbye to our son on his first day of college, these numbers consumed our thoughts. They imposed a physical boundary on our relationship with our son, transforming months of excitement into miles of separation. Whereas these numbers had simply troubled our minds, however, the unfamiliar emptiness of our home had truly crushed our hearts. With our son at Duke, the dinner table now had one less plate, the study table one less book, and his bedroom one less snore.
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.
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.
David Pittman Award
DSG has created a new award to honor Dr. David Pittman. The David Pittman Award, named for the Director of Student Life, is awarded to a member of the Duke University administration, faculty, staff, or student body whose work with the Duke Student Government demonstrates a selfless commitment to mentorship, fostering a supportive environment for character growth and contributing to the leadership development of its members.
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.