February 10, 2012

East West Central

The more I think about it, the more it seems like East, West, and Central are three different universities. Central hardly feels like a part of Duke-the only real indicator is the proximity to the Duke gardens and the devil icons decorating a few signs. West contains almost all of the cultural vibe of campus, with looks to rival Hogwarts and enough squirrels to make a dog crazy. And East...well, East feels like a neighborhood in the creepiest way, almost like Children of the Corn, where the only real adults in residence (if you want to call them that) are upperclassmen and most residents are around 18 or 19 years old.

That isn’t to say that things here aren’t fun. If you take a bunch of kids who are all fresh out of high school, have likely worked hard their whole lives to get to Duke, and aren’t used to living without serious rules, some hilarious stuff is going to go down. Any furniture left unattended in hallways will be swiped and used to trick out a dorm room. People will attempt to cook and will fail spectacularly, which will often result in the triggering of a smoke detector at 12 am (true story). Dorm rooms will be rigged, people will be pranked, and all evidence will be posted on Facebook.

Something that I find amusing and have tested a few times is the idea that if you think of a type of person, you can probably find that type of person somewhere on East Campus. I’ve found the stereotypical nerd and jock, but I’ve also found a Christian who will kick your butt with karate skills, the gamer who sees every homosexual undertone in every movie imaginable (and is glad to share it), the divalicious engineer, and she-who-is-sarcastic-but-you-don’t-realize-it-until-you’ve-been-made-fun-of. I found people I knew from the very start were destined for Greek life, and I also found some people that I have a feeling are music majors.

Question is, though, where is the LGBTQA community on East? Well, I know where the allies are, since I know a bunch of them. But where are the people we’re supposed to be allied with? There are a whole lot of people living over here, and odds are, someone has to be gay. In some ways, it’s too bad that East doesn’t have a community over here-I’m not sure whether people feel safer after first year or what, but maybe once Amendment One has passed away as an issue, we should consider strengthening the community in the not-Hogwarts parts of campus.


  1. OMG. I was in the gym once in the shower and the fire alarm went off. THE WORST.

    That was only slightly related-but hmm! I wonder if part of the lack of visible LGBTQ community on East camous has to do with the fact that there are no central social spaces on East-with the exception of the Marketplace, whereas West campus is home to lots of social community spaces where lots of conversations around identity can happen; the CMA, CRR, Women's Center, LGBT Center, the Mary Lou, etc.

    What's interesting to me though is that I've always felt East was in general friendlier to LGBTQ individuals because it's nicely embedded into the Durham community (which is pretty LGBTQ affirmative, or at least, I've found it to be that way). East campus has easy access to LGBTQ-owned Francescas or you can pick up Q-notes at Whole Foods, or find LGBTQ-affirming publications at the Regulator or even in the waiting area of Bean Traders or Elmo's. So perhaps in that sense there's more university/institutional visibility of LGBTQ-affirmation on West, but I think personally East gives me a friendlier queer-vibe. (PLUS ALL THE LGBTQ MOVIES ARE IN LILLY. <3 )

  2. I love the above two comments, y'all are amazing.

    I think that it might have to do a lot with being in college and away from home for the first time as well. The first year in college is totally ALL about being free and able to explore the complexity of individual identity in peace for the first time. I doubt that there are a lack of queer folks on east, I just think that they're in the intensely personal/individual exploration of themselves at the moment.

    With comfort comes visibility.