Committee Seeks Student Ideas on Next Steps in Strengthening Residential Living at Duke

In 2018-2019, the Duke Board of Trustees charged the Next Generation Living and Learning Experience (NGLLE) Task Force with considering how the university might continue shaping undergraduate student experiences in ways that will positively transform their lives, with a specific emphasis on the living and learning environment at Duke.

After many months of work, the Task Force developed a vision for a revitalized residential experience for undergraduates that also included the recommendation to convene a diverse committee of Duke community members to resolve outstanding questions and recommend implementation plans.

This week, leadership in both the Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs have charged a team of leaders, representing all constituencies of the university and with broad input from across the campus, to take this next step in building a transformative living and learning environment at Duke.

Their full message, sent to all undergraduate students, is below:

 

Good evening undergraduate students,

Residential living and learning is a cornerstone of the Duke undergraduate experience. In 2018-2019, President Price and the Board of Trustees convened the Next Generation Living and Learning Experience Task Force to guide the university in reshaping this part of the undergraduate experience over the coming years. They released an executive summary in June 2019, with a list of ideas and recommendations for further engagement, including plans for a future committee charged with implementing their vision.

Since last fall, the Office of Undergraduate Education and Division of Student Affairs have been working together to implement these recommendations. Today, we are excited to announce the creation of the Next Gen Living and Learning 2.0 Committee, whose goal over the next year is to build a joyful and intentional four-year residential experience that promotes growth, meaningful inclusion, and health, and that is distinctly Duke.

Chaired by Dean of Students John Blackshear and Linda Zhang T’20, the members of the 2.0 Committee have been chosen for their collective knowledge; experience and thoughtfulness; willingness to engage with new ideas and grapple with opposing viewpoints; and ability to focus on our most pressing questions regardless of their individual affiliations.

The 2.0 Committee’s work will focus on several interconnected areas of campus life, and the committee will recommend options for implementation to us and other members of university leadership. You can learn more about the committee’s charge, membership, and progress updates at nextgen.duke.edu

There will be numerous opportunities to share your feedback and ideas along the way, including our first student town hall, which will take place on Wednesday, December 9 at 2:00 p.m. EST.

More details about the town hall, including Zoom information, will be shared in a future message.

Rest assured we will embed many additional chances for the Duke community to share its valuable input throughout the process, including focus groups, listening sessions, surveys, and more. If you’re interested in receiving periodic updates about the 2.0 Committee’s work, subscribe to our listserv

As the Next Gen Living & Learning 2.0 Committee considers options for a joyful, intentional, and distinctly Duke residential structure, they will work within the following established parameters: 

  • We will retain and enhance the first-year experience on East Campus after the pandemic.

Our all-first-year East Campus is a point of distinction for Duke, and we will return to this model as soon as possible. We will explore and outline additional collaborative engagement with the newly created Academic Guides, Faculty-In-Residence, and residential education programs that are more intentionally integrated with other campus resources. From their very first experiences, new students will have consistent opportunities to meaningfully connect with one another and fully engage with the broader learning community.

 

  • We will organize our houses on West Campus into vibrant and diverse residential communities (“quads”), each of which will link to East Campus residence halls in ways that deepen connections across class year, with faculty, and with alumni.

Each quad will have a roughly equal number of residents and serve as a student’s home and foundational community throughout the student’s four years at Duke. Thanks to inclusive quad-based events and rich traditions, first-year students will feel welcomed into the West Campus quad with which their East Campus residence hall is linked. While first-years come to view their quad as their home on West Campus, upperclass students–and ultimately alumni–will take pride in their quad community and affiliation. The quad system will also foster meaningful relationships with faculty and residential staff and include opportunities for student leadership in the residential space.

 

  • Starting with the Class of 2024, students will rush selective living communities in their second year.

COVID-related risks make it highly unlikely that the Class of 2024 can rush safely in January 2021. For this and future classes, any informal or pre-rush activities will be considered a serious or flagrant violation of the Duke regulations.

 

  • Members of the Class of 2022 and 2023 may elect to live in Greek or non-Greek selective living communities in 2021-22, safety regulations permitting, 

but those organizations’ footprints and locations will align with anticipated demand and shift away from Abele Quad. A subcommittee of the 2.0 Committee—including student representatives from Greek and non-Greek SLGs—will recommend how the SLGs might integrate into the planned quad system. Existing rules for class-year representation will change to reflect that members-in-residence will be from the junior and senior classes, from the 2021-22 academic year onwards. Friend of House policies will also be reassessed, with new regulations available to members by January 15, 2021.

 

  • We will provide opportunities for community and connection at a scale that fosters dynamic opportunities for faculty engagement and co-curricular learning.

Each student will have the opportunity to experience multiple levels of community. As first-year students build a sense of belonging on East, they can explore connections to their West Campus quad beginning as early as First-Year Orientation. We will build in genuinely meaningful programming and faculty and alumni engagement throughout each of these dimensions of community.

We are excited about this important moment in time in shaping the next decade of Duke’s residential living and learning experience. We look forward to your partnership in this effort. 

Sincerely,

Mary Pat McMahon
Vice President/Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Gary Bennett
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

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