Pop Quiz: March-April 2003

March 31, 2003

 

Given affirmative action's uncertain future and a Wall Street Journal article investigating admissions standards for the children of donors, we asked:
What is diversity and does Duke have it?

"I think if you're talking about race, as a whole, Duke is diverse, but, within different sections, it isn't at all," says Rittik Chaudhuri, a junior. "I think the best analogy I ever heard was that it's like a rainbow: It's all the different colors, but each one is separate from the other."

Chelsea Castellano, also a junior, says, "Look at us. We're diverse, aren't we? People can hang out with whomever they want. I do think something could be done to make the cultural events that attract all types of people more inviting, though."

According to Tanu Patnaik, a junior who was born in Brazil to Indian parents but who grew up in Chapel Hill, "diversity doesn't seem to be a major issue. I hang out with people of all races, all different backgrounds." Will Palmeri, a senior, pauses to think. "I feel like I have to say 'Yes' or 'No,' " he says. "The administration will tell you we have diversity, and it's not really deniable. You look around, and, if you define diversity by race, then yes, there's a certain amount. I don't think, though, that the people on a campus make it diverse. I think it's how they live. It's a matter of interaction. I have a few friends I would characterize as totally different than myself. But I think, generally, people stick with people who are like themselves. It's a comfort thing. When a black fraternity has a ball, black people attend. When a white fraternity has a mixer, white sorority girls show up. So in a social sense, I think, it's not so diverse. There are few events that really cross those racial boundaries."

Says Stacey Clarke, a junior psychology major, "I think it's racially diverse, yes, but definitely not as much as it could be. I think a school like Yale, where my brother goes, is more diverse, because it's more integrated. Then again, Yale forces it. It's basically like living with your freshman dorm all four years there. So in a way it's better here. We don't necessarily intermix, but people should be where they're most comfortable. It's hard to generalize about Duke. It depends on the group. Some circles are diverse and interact, and some circles don't."

Petal Evans, also a junior and psychology major, concurs, then adds, "Diversity is about interests, too. You have people interested in everything here."