Forum: July-August 2003


ACC Asides


I’m a Duke alumna and parent and was an ACC fan long before I went to Duke. I am very much opposed to the proposed expansion of the ACC, and I appreciate President Nan Keohane’s efforts at least to slow it down. I hope it can be stopped.

My daughter is a friend of several student athletes, and she tells me that the travel involved in intercollegiate sports is very detrimental to their studies. Adding three schools that are at much greater distances from the current ACC schools would only make this worse.

I am also an alumna of Virginia Tech (M.S.), along with my husband, son, and several other family members. We are very concerned about the effect the loss of three football schools is going to have to the Big East conference and Tech in particular. In essence, the ACC is raiding the Big East in what appears to be a very hostile effort to grab as much TV money as possible. Twice the ACC has turned down Virginia Tech in favor of universities located in large cities, in spite of the fact that Tech routinely sells out its 62,000-seat stadium in Blacksburg and attracts large numbers of fans to its bowl games. Just when it seemed that Tech’s difficulties in finding a conference home were over, the ACC not only spurns Tech as a member but seeks to destroy the conference where it is enjoying success. I certainly cannot support this kind of action.

Intercollegiate sports have clearly gotten away from their role in enhancing a student’s college experience. They seem more like slave labor to me than anything else. The athletes have to work at them like a job, theoretically in exchange for an education, but the logistics of playing and training interfere with getting the education. I am very proud of Duke’s academic stature, and I don’t see how this situation does anything but detract from it. It may be time for the Duke community to ask if we really need to continue participating in Division I athletics.

Gael Marshall Chaney ’73
(via e-mail)

Ode to the Oak Room


I just read in another Duke publication that a Duke icon is closing. This quote captures it all, from the current director of Dining Services: “I have kind of mixed emotions... but the trends we’re seeing are that students may not really have an hour and a half to sit down.” Indeed! Not enough time for fried cheese, chicken cordon bleu, or hot fudge cake?! I suppose next you’ll tell me that students don’t have time to stand in Cameron for an ACC game! Or skip class to go tanning at Wally Wade!

For those of us who went to Duke in the Eighties, the Oak Room was beloved. A great place to celebrate birthdays, take your parents when they came to visit, have a rare on-campus date, blow meal card points at the end of the year, and to glimpse basketball players.

When I spread the word of the Oak Room’s fate among my Duke classmates, everyone had a fond memory to share of the only “nice” restaurant on campus, as well as an admonishment for the intensity level of the current Duke student body. Many agreed that the Oak Room’s closing is not about the fudge cake. It’s a much bigger issue. Current Duke students are probably ratcheting up their stress and cholesterol levels and generally messing up their overall wellness by rushing, rushing, rushing—and I don’t mean a sorority.

The Oak Room was always there to say, “What’s your hurry? Sit down and enjoy a salad with a huge dollop of ranch dressing. Savor that carmine-red sliced apple garnish. Put a glass of wine on your meal card. Perkins will still be there when you are finished with your stuffed baked potato.”

Alas, I realize that these recollections are—at best—a nostalgia trip that passes over the heads of current students and, at worst, akin to faded memories of other outmoded cultural unifiers such as the horse and buggy, rotary-dial phones, and light-blue Duke cards.

I raise my iced tea glass to the venerable Oak Room. Thanks for the memories, the calories, and the opportunities to enjoy the pleasures of slowing down, even for just an hour and a half.

Dawn Taylor Biegelsen ’89
(via e-mail)

Imperial Impressions


“ Emerging Imperialism” [March-April 2003], though both timely and interesting, seems to lead us to Senator Byrd’s conclusion that a government should do what it has to do. Would this be a Vespasian Doctrine? If so, perhaps the article does not condemn Roman Imperialism, British Colonialism, and Americanism—the latter not having taken shape yet.

Whereas the Romans collected tax in exchange for order, and the British provided government in exchange for trade, could it be said that Americans provided both government and trade at no cost (except for American lives)?

It is not clear how [political science professor] Robert Keohane’s Machiavellian comments on the Bush Doctrine fit into the otherwise informative analysis. But if he, or anyone else, has ideas on how to continue the slow progress of civilization, it would be good to know about these. His position makes me wonder why it is that we have no energy for preventing war when we are in times of peace.

Joseph B. Harris Ph.D. ’59
Washington, Georgia


I am amazed at your 4,750-plus words about American Empire without a mention of Teddy Roosevelt. Maybe his picture on the cover sufficed for 1,000 words?

And can Professor Robert Keohane observe stingingly without pouting?

Well, yes, war is hell. And terror is evil. Question is, what should good men do? Doing nothing could be cowardice, cowardice of the intellect, heart, and soul.

Ralph Edwards
Morganton, North Carolina

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