So, wow, it's actually been almost four months since I wrote and I'm not particularly happy about it because there's a lot that's been on my mind about school and personal relationships and how my perception of life has changed so much in just the past year. These p-frosh are so excited to be here and I'm already waiting to get out because Duke is not the "care about students, care about the issues" kind of place that I thought it was going to be.

Disclaimer: I really do love being here, but it's mostly for our school spirit, our academics, and especially for the close friends that I've made being here. If my friends and I could be relocated altogether to a completely different environment, at this point in my Duke career, I honestly don't think I would mind at all. It's not until you really look behind the fake brick walls of construction and listen over the sound of cheering at basketball games that you realize Duke's true colors. You realize that there is an inverse correlation between our tuition cost and the facilities that are available to us. You realize that the people that make the most jokes actually have some level of depression. You realize that we try to unify ourselves against racial and sexual prejudice and yet we make the news for discrimination scandals almost every month, because the people who need to understand the most are the ones who will listen the least. I'm sure these things exist at other schools too, but I can speak from my own Duke experience that being in a place that constantly makes you lose faith in humanity is really shitty. Let me try to tackle this slowly, and bear with me: this is more of a rant than fully formulated thoughts.

I haven't personally talked to any Duke administration so I can't say I have any vibes from them, but all I've seen from Duke in the past two years is an increase in cost of tuition and more inconvenience for students. I cannot fathom why it was necessary to build a new entrance to the Bryan Center, why Wallace Wade is being torn down, why I'm paying $60000+ to go to a school that I don't even get to fully enjoy. What the hell is being built in front of LSRC?? Why is the Arts Annex put up on a hill so high that people can seriously injure themselves walking up and down it in the rain? Incoming freshmen don't even know what the BC Plaza is, and that is really, really sad because it was one of the first places I saw on campus and fell in love with. I don't have a problem with some construction, honestly, because it's great that Edens is getting a makeover and the West Union is being redone. But every week I'm afraid to look at the Chronicle because there might be more cranes being put up somewhere or another. Sooner or later, an underground tunnel will be the only way to get into the Bryan Center. (That might kind of cool actually). It's not worth 60K for me to attend this school, because the costs have increased but the benefits have not. Yeah I know, it's a long term project, the next generation of students can enjoy it, bullshit. I'm paying for it, I want it. Take the money from them, not me. Inconvenience has become a rule at Duke.

Speaking of rules at Duke, always being/seeming busy is another one. I really like having free time to hang out and have fun, and only recently have I come out of the whirlwind of telling people I'm busy when I actually could be doing fun, college-y things. You know what results from this academic and social pressure and desire for the notorious "effortless perfection"? Things like depression, anxiety and just overall sadness. I haven't experienced this much personally, but seeing my close friends struggle takes a toll on me too. We cry because we do poorly on an exam or we aren't doing "enough". We cry because our friends aren't always who we think they are and sometimes they offer to help you out but then leave you in the well. We cry because we have or haven't found a community that is or isn't the right community. And then the next day we put on happy faces and pretend nothing even happened. I feel like the people I've made friends with understand all this, and we can have painful conversations and support each other, but how about all the others who don't have someone to help? No one deserves to be alone on this campus, and everyone should know there is always someone you can reach out to. You are not your exam score or your depression. You do not have to hide behind those fake brick walls. You are not alone.

At this point you probably think I hate Duke, but really, I love being here because I've met some incredible people, had some amazing conversations and opportunities and learned some fascinating things. No institution, let alone university, is perfect, but we as students need to be the first to take strides toward positive change. These freshman are going to come in, all excited and happy and unjaded, and as a FAC this coming fall, it's going to be mighty hard for me not to caution them about what's to come. I don't want to be a cookie cutter FAC that tells them that life is perfect here, because it is quite far from it. I'll tell them they should enjoy everything that they do, and if they don't, they should stop doing it. I'll tell them that there is an outspoken minority at this school, but they can find friends and support of any kind if they just take the opportunity to. I'm really tired of just sitting here thinking about talking about it, so hats off to those individuals who have make a difference at this school.

They say we are privileged to be at Duke, but what feels privileged about all of this? Our school's ups and downs balance out with the ups and downs of any other school we might compare ourselves to, so we better stop thinking of ourselves as better as an entity. With maturity and experience comes this kind of understanding and in cases like this sometimes ignorance is truly bliss. If we kept track of everything that was wrong with the world around us, how could we possibly take care of our own mental health first? Make sure you are aware of what is fucked up in this world, but don't dwell on it, because otherwise you won't be able to live a full life. Work to make changes to the things most important to you, but know that there are others who care too. I think it's worth the effort to make these societal changes so that our children can hopefully grow up in a better world, but for now, let's try to stay optimistic about the life we do have.

Good talking to you. There's a lot more where this came from, so hopefully I'll write again soon :)

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