Ending Duke's Comparative Culture
Unfortunately, there is an ugly culture at Duke in which we constantly compare ourselves to others. This tragically creates an unbreakable cycle of self-consciousness, disempowerment, and inadequacy. This sort of comparative culture though is not bread by accident, it did not come to exist on its own, but it is rather ingrained in us from the moment we hear our convocation speech during O-week of freshman year.
Christoph Guttentag, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, has given a slight variation of the same speech for years, always making sure to call out a few students with absolutely incredible stories, leaving those students feeling uncomfortable and singled out, and leaving the rest of those in the audience thinking, "Why am I at Duke? How did I get here? Clearly, I am not good enough."
These thoughts are dangerous. They are what perpetuate this culture of comparison and encourage Duke students’ feelings of insecurity and inferiority. We argue that there are more constructive ways to inspire motivation and increase students’ awareness of the remarkable achievements of their peers.
Sign this petition if you believe that Dean Guttentag should remove this part of his speech for the classes to come in favor of a more inclusive realization of Duke students’ potential.