The Duke Compact: A Pledge to Keep Each Other Safe

Pledge articulates behavioral expectations for all students, faculty and staff

Duke Compact logo

The Duke Compact, which arrives in the inboxes of all Duke faculty, staff and students today (Tuesday), is a pledge to commit to far more than just ourselves as the fall semester begins.

The pledge is a promise to enter an unprecedented school year with a new layer of respect and accountability to each other, its authors say. Among the details: signees promise to wear masks in public, maintain proper physical distancing, monitor their own health using a new phone app, avoid crowds and generally act responsibly. (The full text is available below)

“This year is going to be really different,” said Leigh Goller, who led a campus-wide working group appointed by President Vincent E. Price that created the Compact. “There are a lot of unique challenges and a lot of fear and anxiety not just about being on campus, but about our campus’s impact on the community. The Compact sets a common set of behavioral expectations we can rely upon each other for.”

The Compact’s commitments may make some signees uncomfortable; but that’s part of why it’s important, said Goller, Duke’s chief audit, risk and compliance officer.

“These are going to be promises we make to one another to keep each other safe,” she said. “It’s more than ourselves we are keeping safe. It’s everyone we contact, and then all the people they go home to.”
-- Leigh Goller

“These are going to be promises we make to one another to keep each other safe,” she said. “It’s more than ourselves we are keeping safe. It’s everyone we contact, and then all the people they go home to.”

The Compact was a campus-wide collaborative effort that sought comments from faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, professional students, employees and others, Goller said.

“The Duke Compact is a vitally important statement of our shared expectations, at a time when the entire Duke community must remain united in our commitment to health and safety,” said President Vincent E. Price. “It is vital for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors to support this effort.  The more we are united in taking care of ourselves and each other, the more likely we are to have a successful and safe semester.”

The Compact’s message reaches beyond campus boundaries with an acknowledgement that Duke is tied to the health and wellbeing of the larger Durham community, said Stelfanie Williams, vice president for Durham & Community Affairs.

“The Compact focuses on community responsibility to Duke and our neighbors,” Williams said. “As part of a broader community of neighborhoods, workplaces and businesses in Durham and beyond, it is incumbent on everyone at Duke to exemplify these shared values and protect our communities on- and off-campus.”

The Compact will also be a reminder for students of their key role in keeping the campus community safe, student leaders said.

“The guidelines are only effective if we, as a community, commit to both adhering to them and encouraging others to do the same. I hope the Compact will become a positive part of campus culture that encourages us to not only protect our health, but the health of everyone around us.”
-- Sarah Kane

“I fear that, especially after having a long summer in relative isolation, the instinct will be to meet up with friends in ways that do not adhere to the public health guidelines,” said Sarah Kane, a rising senior. “The guidelines are only effective if we, as a community, commit to both adhering to them and encouraging others to do the same. I hope the Compact will become a positive part of campus culture that encourages us to not only protect our health, but the health of everyone around us.”

“It is going to be vital that we, as undergraduates, adhere to the Duke Compact and other policies for our collective health and safety,” said rising junior Shrey Majmudar. “It is even more important to think beyond just ourselves and our peers; abiding by the Duke Compact ensures that people we so dearly cherish—such as Duke's thousands of faculty and staff, as well as our neighbors in Durham—remain healthy, despite many of them being in higher-risk categories. It goes without saying that all it takes is one student. So this must be a true team effort.”

The Compact is also an opportunity for faculty members to demonstrate their broader commitment to the community, said Anna Gassman-Pines, a professor of public policy and psychology and neuroscience and a member of the working group.

“For faculty, signing the Compact is one way of showing both the students we teach and the colleagues with whom we work that we care about their health and wellbeing,” she said.

Though the Compact isn’t intended to be an enforcement tool, there are consequences for Duke community member who violate its mandates, Goller said.

“We hope gentle reminders and a little peer pressure enforcement will be all that is ever called for,” Goller said. “If we do have flagrant or repeated disregard for the principle, there will be consequences.  It can affect student status. It can affect being able to physically be on campus, and it can affect employment status. These are very serious and very necessary expectations.”

 

The Duke Compact

As a member of the Duke community, I affirm that our shared values underscore the behaviors that we expect of ourselves and one another.  We are, more than ever before, individually and collectively responsible for the health and safety of our fellow students, faculty, staff, families and neighbors. 

I acknowledge the trust that others are placing in me, affirm the respect I have for all members of our community, and promise to honor my commitment to them through the decisions I make and the actions I take, whether I am on campus, at home or in my neighborhood.

I recognize that Duke is committed to sustaining a safe and healthy campus, and seeks to minimize the risk to our students, faculty, staff and others who are present on our campus.  And in return, I commit to do my part by caring for myself and the community. 

To comply with requirements from Duke University, and state and local authorities, I will:

  • Wear a mask or face covering in all public spaces.
  • Maintain appropriate physical distance.
  • Wash my hands often.
  • Monitor and report my symptoms through the SymMon app, or approved alternatives, before coming to campus.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Stay home when I feel ill.
  • Know and follow safety plans and additional guidance that are specific to my group, workplace or activity.
  • Keep confidential all health information I know or learn about others.

To protect myself and the people around me, I will:

  • Participate in required COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and health monitoring.
  • If instructed, self-isolate for the required duration.
  • Get the flu shot and other required vaccinations by designated deadlines.
  • Adhere to all travel conditions and restrictions.
  • Consent to the use of institutional data to identify others who have been in proximity or close contact.
  • Accept the benefits and consequences for the conditions of this compact.
  • Speak up to share suggestions or concerns by calling 800.826.8109 or completing an online form.

Additional information on these expectations can be found in the attached quick reference document and at https://returnto.duke.edu.

I have chosen to be a member of the Duke community for a purpose – to learn, to live, to teach, to work – and I affirm that the Duke Compact connects us all.  By agreeing to this Duke Compact, I pledge to be personally responsible and accountable.  By signing my name to this pledge, I acknowledge that these are the conditions for being on campus.  To be at Duke is to be united for each other.