Duke Forum

In 2006, after the lacrosse incident, Rolling Stone wrote an article about Duke’s social scene. Duke’s Women’s Initiative, investigating females’ roles on campus, predates the article and incident by three years.

Stereotypes, expectations and social norms

“Most undergraduates come to Duke with a fairly well-developed set of cultural expectations about how women and men should behave, communicated in powerful ways by the messages of contemporary popular culture and formative high school experiences…These norms are clearly not conducive to equal participation as members of a community of scholars…” (Women’s Initiatve Report, 7).

Men dominate

“…Men set the social rules, throw the parties, …create the expectations, …and these…incredibly smart women…dumb it down.” –Donna Lisker, former director of Duke’s Women’s Center

Feminist theory

“Feminism, which most women saw as a throwback, a ‘past social inequality,’ has very little relevance to their lives.” –RS Reporter


Effortless perfection

“…The expectation that one would be smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful, and popular, and that all this would happen without visible effort.” (Women’s Initiative Report, 14).

“Reading on the treadmill with the highlighter—see, that’s Duke in a nutshell. You’ve got to do everything at once, and you’ve got to do it well.” –Duke female undergraduate

The hookup scene

“Both men and women expressed dissatisfaction with the dating scene at Duke. Students…attend parties in large groups, followed by “hookups”—unplanned sexual encounters typically fueled by alcohol. Men and women agreed the double standard persists: men gain status through sexual activity while women lose status” (Women’s Initiative Report, 12-13).


“There is a metal go-go cage in which a group of Duke girls clad in tiny denim skirts and hlaters perform a modified pole dance, but no one seems to be watching.” –RS Reporter

“A whirlwind”

“(The hookup scene) exists in a whirlwind of drunkenness and horniness that lacks definition—which is what everyone likes about it (because) it’s just an environment of craziness and you don’t have to worry about it until the next morning.” –Duke male undergraduate


“Part of being a modern woman is sort of playing with your sexuality.” –Donna Lisker, former director of Duke’s Women’s Center


“…Traditional intercourse is common, and oral sex nearly ubiquitous, regarded as sort of a form of elaborate kissing that doesn’t really mean very much.” –Duke female undergraduate.

Reitman, Janet. “Sex & Scandal at Duke.” Rolling Stone. 1 June 2006. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/1046110/sex_scandal_at_duke>.

All quotations attributed to the Women’s Initiative Report can be found online at http://www.duke.edu/womens_initiative/report_report.html.

Rolling Stone image from www.rollingstone.com