Apr 19, 2023
Students and faculty at Duke University were invited to join a respectful conversation touching all sides of a challenging issue — specially selected by Duke students themselves: “Does QuadEx Strengthen Duke’s Campus Community?”
Braver Angels debates are not competitive, but a collective exercise in civil discourse. Conducted in a light parliamentary format, they teach students to engage respectfully around difficult and divisive issues. Students think together, listen carefully to one another, and allow themselves to be touched and even changed by each other’s ideas. Participants walk out with greater empathy, tighter community relationships, and appreciation for diversity of thought.
Sponsored by Polis: Center for Politics, this collegiate debate is free and brought to you with the support of a partnership of Braver Angels, BridgeUSA, and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), non-profit organizations that believe in the power of free expression and respectful exchange of ideas on America’s college campuses.
Student consensus was divided as they grappled with the question, “does QuadEx strengthen Duke’s campus community?” With the slogan, “it’s not just where you live but how you live,” QuadEx aims to increase inclusivity, community, and “ integrate the social, residential, and intellectual lives of undergraduates.” Each quad will have its own identity, traditions, and events.
Duke University has phased out selective housing and instead implemented a mandatory automated linking system between the first-year East Campus dorms and West Campus quads. Sophomores will no longer be able to rank their quad preference.
This change has incited much debate, as seen during the April 19th conversation with Braver Angels. Students in the affirmative acknowledged that the rollout of QuadEx was not perfect. However, they asserted that this transition is only temporary. Brien Brennan (‘25) implored the audience to “focus on the spirit” of this new initiative. He argues that QuadEx will strengthen the bond between first-years and upperclassmen. Comfort Markwei (‘26) adds that this program will give each class the ability to define what residential life looks like at Duke.
However, Rohan Shreenath (‘26) argues that QuadEx dorms will develop unequal levels of community, relying too heavily on the Quad Council for activities and traditions. He also worries that QuadEx is taking resources from current student groups. Ishaan Maitra (‘24) agrees, arguing that QuadEx forces “artificial” community, “when community already exists” in clubs, sports, and various student organizations.
Members of the audience were also able to voice their opinions. Although Gus Gress believes QuadEx is an “admissions strategy” and marketing ploy, he asserts it will “have great effects.” He argues that there is only “addition” and “not subtraction” in terms of university initiatives to build community. Other students agree, calling any community-building programming beneficial.
However, other students believe QuadEx will actually increase exclusivity and erode current student community and culture. Becca Rosenzweig states that QuadEx has broken up many friend groups made in Freshman year. She also argues that it makes students “less interested in making friends outside of their dorm.”
Overall, the debate concluded with a less polarizing picture of QuadEx. Braver Angels created a space for students to discuss the benefits and challenges of Duke’s new experiential programming, without resorting to black and white rhetoric.