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Peer For You Peer Responder Applications Open

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.

Peer responders are trained through CAPS personnel and facilitate the sharing of personal experiences and encourage students to make use of existing, supportive resources. The role of the Responder crucially is to provide an open, non-judgemental, open ear for students to express their stress. Ever felt alone at Duke? Inadequate? Marginalized? If you've experienced challenges at Duke in any way, consider applying to be a Peer Responder.

Visit the Peer For You website for more information.

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Duke hires new counseling director

Duke University Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek announced today that Dr. Wanda Collins has been hired as the new director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Duke. Collins, currently the director of the Counseling Center at American University in Washington, D.C., will start March 3, 2014, in this critical campus role.

"Collins has a keen understanding of college counseling centers and trends related to mental health issues in higher ed today," Wasiolek said. "Her resume is incredibly impressive, and her references are stellar. She is clearly committed to multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion, and possesses an inspiring competence, confidence and poise. I have no doubt that Wanda will be a great asset to the health and wellness community on campus," Wasiolek added.

A nationwide search was conducted for a new director, pulling in a number of well-qualified candidates from across the country. Faculty, administrators and students participated throughout the interview process. Collins, who has spent the past 15 years as a member of the Counseling Center at American University and the last eight as Director, rose to the top.

"I am very impressed by the CAPS staff, the trainees, the students, and all campus partners I met during the interview process. It was also clear in my meetings that CAPS is highly regarded on campus and well supported by the senior administration, which I believe is critically important," Collins said. "I'm looking forward to working with the students, as well as getting to know the staff better and figuring out how I can support and contribute to them and an already great counseling center."

"I have been fortunate to work with a staff and colleagues who I admire and respect. However, after 15 years at American University, I am poised for this new challenge at Duke University," Collins said, adding, “I am also excited to explore the Durham area, learning about the different communities and cultural events, finding new restaurants, and hiking the parks and forests.”

Collins holds a Ph.D. and MS in counseling psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, an MA in General Psychology from American University, and a BS in Public Relations from Andrews University. She is currently Vice President of the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) and Chair of the Board of Accreditation for IACS, and holds a number of other professional service positions and affiliations. In addition to leading numerous seminars and workshops, she has held a faculty position with Washington School of Psychiatry since 2011 and an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Psychology at American University since 2009. She has also given numerous professional presentations.

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Duke Pilots Closing East Campus Clinic for Spring 2014

Duke Student Health will pilot a consolidation of their clinical services by closing the East Campus Clinic for Spring Semester, 2014.

"There is a combination of reasons for our decision to close the East Campus Clinic," said Dr. John Vaughn, director of Student Health at Duke, "but first and foremost is that we feel doing so will better allow us to deliver the standard of medical care that students deserve and the Duke University Health System demands."

The East Campus Health Clinic was established in the 1990s.  According to Jean Hanson, RN, MPH, administrative director for clinical support services and outreach, it was initially staffed by a nurse only and was intended to handle “simple” cases for the freshman campus. 

“But we have seen a significant increase in the complexity of student health needs over the past decade," Vaughn said, “and we feel the East Campus Clinic simply no longer has the equipment, space or staffing to provide the level of care that students and parents expect from Student Health."

“Most universities, even those much larger than Duke in both land and student population, have only one health clinic on campus," said Hanson.  “To attempt to retrofit the East Clinic to current standards when we have the fully equipped Student Health Center on West Campus just wouldn't be a good use of resources.  We feel that what our students may lose in convenience will be offset by the quality of care that they receive."

In recent years, an increasing number of students are referred, or are self-referring, to the Student Health Center after visiting the East Campus Clinic. Visits to the clinic have been steadily declining over the past few years.

Clinicians who staffed the East Campus Clinic will be moved to the Student Health Center, Vaughn said, noting that this will increase their capacity to serve students. “We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t think this was the best way to serve students,” Vaughn added. “At the end of the spring 2014 semester, we will examine the collected information and make a decision on how best to move forward, with quality care for students as our measuring stick.”

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Gratitude can change your attitude.

Gratitude can change your attitude.  Being thankful helps us to feel happy, according to Deborah Norville, a broadcast journalist, author, news anchor, and parent of two Duke students. Over family weekend, she gave a lecture on her experiences balancing work and life, and shared stories of how gratitude towards others has had a positive impact on herself and others.

So why is it so hard for us to be thankful if it makes us feel good? Don’t we want to have that warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing we told someone how much we appreciate them?

I enjoyed her discussion of gratitude over this particular weekend, specifically because it tied together thankfulness and family. There’s no doubt about it: everyone here was helped by someone to make it into Duke. We can’t do everything by ourselves! Whether it was a teacher, a friend, a sibling, a role model, a parent, or all of the above, we all owe someone a big thank-you. And I think for many Duke students, our parents and families deserve the most appreciation.

Our families raised us, guided us, and loved us even in our worst moments. Not only did they support us throughout our childhood and teenage years, but they continue to support and encourage us as we become young adults. Parents’ weekend is an opportunity for students to share Duke with their families, and to celebrate what they’ve accomplished as well as look forward to the future.

Duke prides itself on its diversity, so it makes sense that each Duke student has a unique relationship with the people at home. Personally, I text my mom every day, and call about once a week. Other students may call once a day or once a month. Some students are paying for college independently, while others receive help from family. Whatever the case, our families have spent the past two decades dedicating time and energy to us, and these four years at Duke are an important time to give thanks to them. As college students, we are beginning to “leave the nest” now, and the efforts of our families shine in our accomplishments. Sometimes it’s a struggle to realize how dependent we are on others’ help, but it’s important to remind ourselves that we didn’t succeed alone. I asked why it was often hard to show our thanks, and this is a possible answer. We want to be independent, to be adults, and to feel grown-up. But, maybe, being grown-up is actually realizing that we can’t ever be fully self-reliant. Maybe being grown-up means being able to get that happy feeling when we share the ownership of our success with the people who helped us achieve it. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and telling someone thank-you in a sincere way can often be intimidating and emotional. It puts us in a vulnerable place, and forces us to accept our dependence on others. But, if you’re looking for inspiration in telling someone thank-you, this video will show you just how great the effects of simple gratitude can be:

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In a Moment of Crisis, It's OK to Seek Help

I first realized something was wrong last spring after I walked from the West bus stop all the way back to East crying.  It had been a long day, and after my 1:25 class, I just wanted to go back to Bell Tower and relax.  However, as many Duke students know, leaving the West bus stop at 2:40 is similar to Black Friday shopping – except that the final destination is usually a lecture rather than a new T.V.  Not feeling aggressive that day, I was one of the last to step onto the bus.  Given that there were so many people waiting, I figured the driver would understand the fullness of the bus, but he made me get off to wait for the next one.

I was absolutely and irrationally furious. Livid. Disgusted. Enraged. I wanted to scream at the man who made me get off the bus.  But I didn’t. I just started crying and decided I’d had enough of Duke’s transportation system and made the two-mile walk back to my dorm.

I started thinking about why that had made me so angry, and it wasn’t just because I couldn’t ride the first bus back. It was really about the various aspects of Duke that hadn’t met my expectations, transportation being one of them. I was upset with my financial situation, the limited gluten-free options, the cold and rainy weather, and having only one break in the Spring semester.  Among the minor things that bothered me were the pricey yet unreliable laundry machines, the dirty bathrooms, the extreme air conditioning in the library during the middle of winter, and the terrible-tasting water.  Overall that semester, I just felt like Duke didn’t care about me.  And not only did they seem to overlook my basic human needs, but they were making me pay for it.  I felt ripped off and cheated.  It took one small act of being forced off a bus to make me realize what had built up over the semester.  All the little imperfections of what I had expected to be a perfect place combined to build inside me an intense irritation.  I felt helpless and depressed, and I was tired and grouchy all the time.  Making it through the day with a positive attitude became a struggle, and from morning until night seemed to last an eternity.  I wanted so badly to just be happy and carefree at Duke; after all, it was supposed to be my new home.

I decided I needed to take charge and find myself help, so I went to CAPS, counseling and psychological services.  I went in hopeful, believing after a few sessions my mood would turn around and my outlook on life at Duke would become positive.  As much as I wanted it to be, CAPS wasn’t the solution for me (although I know it is for others).  After three sessions, I never came to any conclusions or found any solutions.  

When I attended my third session, there was only one week left until Spring Break.  I had paid to go on a beach trip with Cru, so I wasn’t planning to go home.  However, the day before Spring break, I called my mom and burst into tears about how homesick I was.  I ended up buying a plane ticket that night, and I flew home the next day.

After visiting my family for a week, I returned to school with more motivation and confidence, although my annoyance at Duke still lingered in the back of my mind.  The difference was that I felt more in control, not over the problems I faced, but in the way I reacted to them.  I saw it as a way for me to be the “bigger person.”  I could either be bothered by Duke’s imperfections, or I could make life easier for myself by letting the small things slide.  Is it really essential to be back to my dorm by 3:00?  Or will I still be alive and well if I am back ten minutes later?  I wanted to take back control of my own emotions.  Only I can decide when to be optimistic or when to be distraught.  I didn’t want Duke to have influence over that anymore.

I am still struggling with this today, and I don’t usually tell people about this story.  I feel vulnerable and silly.  My problems seem small here at Duke.  I haven’t seen anyone die, I’m not failing my classes, I have enough food to eat, and I can breathe clean air.  To top it all off, Duke students have mastered the skill of “effortless perfection”- or at least the skill of looking the part.  We all pretend to be more than fine.  We try to look like we are making good grades, participating in enough clubs and sports, and applying for prestigious summer internships.  On the inside, though, I know there are a lot of Duke students who feel like I did – like they don’t belong, they aren’t good enough.  They feel lost and out of place at Duke.  They weren’t mentioned in the convocation speech, and they didn’t receive academic scholarships.  They don’t have a fancy Nike backpack, and they didn’t make the dance team.  They just got a D on their Chemistry exam, and now they go back to their rooms only to study and practice to exemplify perfection in their work.  And even the students who do have internships, the scholarships, or the grades feel lost.  What if they make a mistake?  Is their identity threatened? 

Duke is definitely a challenging school to attend.  Being surrounded by the top students in the country can be encouraging as well as humbling.  Sometimes, though, in a moment of crisis, it’s okay to seek out help.  My family was my solution, and there are many resources on campus that work for other people.  In times of mental stress, whether academic or not, it is crucial to keep searching for help.  Even if one person can’t give the right advice, the next person might be able to help.  And sometimes, the answers come from simply doing the searching and gaining confidence in being responsible and proactive.

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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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True Blue: Meet Nancy Su

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Duke Class of 2017! How are you feeling—nervous, hopeful, invigorated? Breathe it all in! Let me introduce myself:

My name is Nancy Su, and I will be a junior this coming fall. I am pursuing a major in psychology, minor in biology, with an interest in health care.

I wanted to participate in True Blue because it offers something I don’t think any freshman can get enough of—knowledge. Specifically, knowledge about the push and pull of college life. Nervous? Yeah, I was nervous when I stepped onto East Campus for the first time that move-in day. Hopeful? I felt hopeful that I wouldn’t totally bomb the first Chemistry exam of my freshman year. Invigorated? I was rather invigorated about experiencing for myself the social scene everyone talks about.Apart from those, there are topics not everyone may properly enlighten you on, such as keeling over from pulling three all-nighters in a row, whereby you are found by your roommate and delivered to the hospital. Or, maybe getting wrapped up in happy partying for a weekend, whereby you are too incapacitated to head to class on Monday. Exaggerations aside, situations like these may arise from your time at Duke; academic, social, and personal stresses are pretty common for the average student.

You may wonder if two years of college under my belt makes me a pro at making the “right decisions,” right? Ha! Surely you jest. Life is a learning curve, my friend, and no one can make perfect decisions all day every day, but what you and I can do to mollify this is to listen and to learn. And, what’s a better way to begin listening and learning than to use True Blue as a platform for your new start at Duke? I believe that the knowledge you gain from True Blue can be helpful for whatever situations you chance upon in college.

I personally welcome the wonderful Class of 2017! For now, this is Nancy signing off.

~Nancy Su
 

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True Blue: Meet Grace Befort

Hello! My name is Grace Befort and I am sophomore, tentatively majoring in Public Policy with an Education minor and Children in Contemporary Society certificate. This summer I was lucky enough to participate in a domestic DukeEngage program in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I worked as a Freedom Schools Intern, teaching a group of ten 5-9 year-olds literacy. I loved my time in the program, but I cannot wait to return to Duke for another year.

As I just finished my freshman year, the wide array of feelings about starting college are still fresh in my mind. I was definitely excited to get to Duke, but also overwhelmed, nervous, lonely, and confused. We at True Blue want to help make your transition to Duke as easy as possible, and help you find balance during your first year.

During your first few months of college, it’s easy to let lots of formerly routine things go to the wayside. Things like maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating can be easily forgotten with so many other things to fill your time and countless opportunities to munch on Cosmic Cantina. Your old study habits from high school will have to be adjusted. Not only will the general timing of your studying probably change, but the temptation of all your friends living just a few steps away from you and no parents around nagging you to work makes it especially easy to blow off studying for something more fun. Not only will you have to balance healthy living and studying, there is a whole new social culture you will have to maneuver as well. Safe drinking, the hook up culture, and simply finding your niche at Duke are all tricky concepts you will be faced with during your Freshman year. True Blue will address all these issues, hopefully preparing you to make responsible choices while still having a blast. The True Blue team and I are not here to lecture you on underage drinking or encourage you to study all day instead of having a social life, we just want you to make the best, safest choices for yourself.

Although everything may seem intimidating now, you are about to have an amazing four years at Duke! There is something here for everyone, you just need to go out there and find it. Even though it might be hard with the incredible school you are about to attend just a few weeks out of your grasp, be sure to enjoy the time you have left at home, Duke will be your home soon enough!
 

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True Blue: Meet José Sandoval

"Keeping It Real"
Hailing from the streets of Compton, California, I realized early in life that I did not fit the preconceived, stereotypical image of the kid from the so-called “ghetto”.  Although I was surrounded by a world of drugs and violence, I was not going to try to become something I was not. I would not let those disparities phase me…ever. I went with my own flow.
True Blue and the Wellness Center here on campus helped me find my direction from the start. I was a part of the Wellness Community on East Campus this past year and do not regret it. I have met some of the most amazing people at Duke because of my involvement with the Wellness Center. I arrived at Duke knowing that I was going be in a completely new environment, a foreign land almost. I knew no one and no one knew me. It was a strange feeling. I had a clean slate. However, I was not going to be a fake and live in a lie just to impress others. I wanted to make friends, genuine friends who enjoyed my presence. I did not have to pretend that I came from a lavish boarding school or wealthy community in order to fit in. Staying true to myself worked perfectly fine. In doing so, Duke quickly went from being my school to being my home.

Wellness, to me, doesn’t just revolve around the stigma of being substance free. It involves immersing yourself in a community of individuals that foster a similar way of life: interests, music, and passion for thriving in life. I do not want to say that Wellness has been the only community that I am involved in on campus, but it certainly is one of the most influential. Some people might criticize my involvement with the Wellness Community, but I will not let their disapproval or remarks discourage me from keeping it real. I stay true to my actions and decisions. I credit a lot of my social and academic successes during my freshman year at Duke to Wellness. I was able to find my True Blue easily. Keeping it real has gotten me this far and it will continue leading me in the right direction. My words of advice to first year students- Keep it real. Always.

--José Sandoval

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10 Things to Remember For a Successful Experience

Dear Undergraduate Student:

The Office of Student Conduct staff welcomes you (back) to Duke!  We know your time is valuable, so with that in mind, here are 10 things to remember for a successful and full experience this year.  We want to help you avoid decisions that could lead to future anxiety as a consequence of regretted choices.

1.  You won't be able to study abroad or participate in DukeEngage in you are on disciplinary probation (DP), which is a mid-level response to concerning behavior.  DP is issued, for example, as a sanction for distributing alcohol, smoking pot, having a fake ID, disorderly conduct, and repeated misconduct.  

2.  If you are suspended from Duke, a permanent notation is made on your transcript and you have to apply for readmission, which is not guaranteed. 

3.  Violence, particularly sexual violence, is not tolerated in our community, and may result in permanent removal from the Duke community. 

4.  Know that the use of a fake ID carries risks.  Bartenders can easily spot them, and local and state police agencies typically cite/arrest students if caught with one.

5.  Pretend your grandparents are living next door to the off-campus residence you visit.  Be respectful of the neighborhood, avoid littering, keep your noise down, and let your good judgment guide you rather than be compromised by a "groupthink" mentality and/or the excessive consumption of alcohol. 

6.  It's better to get a reduced grade/zero on an assignment for turning it in late rather than completing it in an academically dishonest way, which may result in suspension.

7.  Fire extinguishers and fire alarm pulls are tempting to touch.  Caution!  A false alarm annoys your peers (especially at 3 AM), and the powder from a discharged fire extinguisher creates a mess.  Students identified tampering with fire safety equipment will likely lose their on-campus housing.

8.  Use legitimate sources (Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Netflix, etc.) for acquiring music or movies.  We've heard of unfortunate situations where students have been sued for copyright infringement for downloading files illegally.

9.  It is easy to overestimate the degree to which collaboration is permitted in a course.  Clarify with your instructors the extent to which working with another on an assignment is permitted.

10.  If you're unsure if _____ (fill in the blank) is OK or not, there are lots of resources available to help you figure this out.  Your academic dean, your RA, your advisor, your instructors, Student Affairs staff… we're all here to help you proactively make good decisions and give you support.  Ask rather than assume!

For a comprehensive listing of university policies and procedures regarding undergraduate student conduct, see http://bit.ly/15mKbT9 or the Office of Student Conduct website (http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/conduct).  If you did not receive a printed copy of The Duke Community Standard in Practice: A Guide for Undergraduates and would like one, let us know at conduct@duke.edu or stop by 200 Crowell Hall (East Campus).  Best wishes for a successful year, and Go Duke!

On behalf of the Office of Student Conduct staff,
Stephen Bryan
Associate Dean of Students & Director
 

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