Back to School Kickoff with T-shirts, Barbeque, and Book Talks

One of the few pieces I remember reading in The Chronicle was how a graduating columnist was able to sum up her best college experiences with free t-shirts she had accumulated during her stay at Duke. I think I remembered this piece so clearly because I identified with the fond nostalgia felt whenever I was looking through my t-shirt drawer senior year of college. Hoping to cite this article I ran a search for “shirts,” “t-shirts,” and “free shirts” on The Chronicle website.   However, my attempts to find this evasive article for you all have been fruitless.

An interesting piece I did come across in the 282 search results returned for “shirts” was “No More T-shirts” by Molly Lester. “No More T-shirts” argues that the amount of free t-shirts thrown at Duke students that are ultimately unused/worn is absurd. Molly points out that although a t-shirt is an acceptable wardrobe pick in college, post-graduation t-shirts are almost exclusively for bedtime, exercising purposes, or lounging on the weekends. After graduation, I had a similar realization when my mom asked me to clean out my overstuffed t-shirt drawer. The shirts saved were like old friends, physical reminders of the activities and events that mattered most in the past four years. The elusive article I tried to find emphasized that the shirts worth saving were the ones you loved and wanted to continue reppin’. The only t-shirts I saved were either from the Duke Campus Farm or Kenan.

The coveted last batch of Daisy Cakes cupcakes.

Many of these Kenan shirts have come from the annual Kenan [School Year] Kickoff Barbeque. This year, there were a fair amount of new faces but also lots of familiar faces. It was difficult for me to get a final DaisyCakes cupcake (which has since closed) because the path from table to food was lined with friends. As we had not seen one another for the whole summer, it was easy to get caught up in conversation.
In addition to the cheerful buzz of people chatting and catching up with one another, Professor Wayne Norman provided musical tunes with his “house band.” One barbeque-goer even added a video of him singing for all of Duke snapchatters to see, along with the tag “my professor is cooler than yours.”

Dirk speaking at The Regulator Bookshop
Dirk speaking at The Regulator Bookshop

The Kenan Kickoff Barbeque is a great way to ease back into the swing of school before all the chaos of the school year start over. Dirk Philipsen, a Senior Fellow at Kenan has already had a busy start to the school year with the release of his new book The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do About It. On Thursday after the barbeque, he ran over to The Regulator on 9th Street to give a book reading; discussing how GDP has caused a consumer mentality that is constantly craving more and more products and services to grow GDP, despite the reality that we are living on a planet with finite resources. The desire for exponential growth is unsustainable. At his talk Dirk pointed out how the world is slowly tuning into the negative environmental impacts of the consequence of increased global consumerism. One example Dirk cited to underscore this new awareness was the Papal Encyclical on climate change. Dirk’s book provides an accessible overview on the history of GDP, how the world has become so dependent on GDP as a way of measuring success, and why GDP is not an encompassing metric for the modern world. While I have yet to read the entire book, the ideas from the book reading sparked a lengthy two-hour post discussion with a friend who went to the reading as well. We discussed the logistics behind retraining the way companies, societies, and individuals would have to think about how to measure success.

While the Barbeque was a great way to catch up with new and old friends, it is apparent that we have hit the school year running and summer has come to a close. One thing I have learned about hanging around Kenan is that there is never a dull moment with all the different things faculty, staff, and students are engaged in.