By Mike Kim
To provide some personal background, I started at Duke in 2017 as a member of the Class of 2021 (before you ask, yes — Grayson Allen was here my freshman year and Zion was here my sophomore year). I took a leave of absence (several gap semesters) from Spring 2020 to Spring 2022 and came back to Duke this fall as a junior. Having spent my freshman and sophomore year at Duke during the pre-COVID era and returning to Duke for the first time post-COVID, I’ve noticed that a lot has changed over the 2 years I have been gone. Here are some of the biggest changes I have noticed.
1. Nothing is open 24 hours anymore
I used to pull all-nighters at the library, exchange banter with the library cleaning staff around 4AM, and watch the early 6AM joggers and sunrise through the library windows. McDonalds and Pitchforks, the two places that night owls could depend on for late night snacks, are no longer open 24 hours a day. I especially loved going to McDonalds late at night because they would always make fresh, new, hot, crispy French fries. The newer generation will never experience 4AM Pitchforks after a night out and the hot 3AM crispy fries at McDonalds.
2. Food + Loop Bar
In addition to food prices rising from inflation, I’ve also noticed other small changes around campus food venues. Mobile ordering is now a thing, whereas in the past I had to always go in person to order food. Il Forno’s pasta station got rid of their casarecce pasta (which was very chewy and unique in my opinion). Also, students can no longer use food points to buy food from the Washington Duke Hotel restaurant, Dominos, and Jimmy Johns… and I’m upset about it. Now, I have to use real money to eat fancy food at WaDuke or order pizza and garlic knots from Dominos (Dominos is also no longer open 24 hours anymore, which is also upsetting). The downstairs bar at the Loop isn’t as lively as it used to be, and this makes me sad. The Loop Bar used to be the social hub, the place to go for a fun time any day of the week, not just on game days or weekends. It was always crowded — almost impossible to find an empty seat — and regulars knew that Loop bartenders made the best Moscow mules. Oh, and don’t get me started on how they got rid of the grilled cheese and tomato soup and Div Café.
3. No more Central Campus
Central Campus was the home to most selective living groups (SLGs) and Greek life. It had a certain “charm” to it that West and East Campus didn’t possess. Thrive Cafe on Central Campus was a great place for food and groceries as well. Even though I never spent much time on Central Campus, looking at the now barren grounds on Central Campus just brings out a sense of nostalgia.
4. Different buses
Did you know there was a time when there were the C2, C3, CCX buses? The C2 (a.k.a. East-Central-West) and CCX (a.k.a. Central Campus Express) stopped by various stops along Central, East, and West Campus. The C3 travelled between East, West, and Science Drive. It makes sense that the C2 and CCX aren’t a thing anymore, but I was a little surprised to find out that the C3 buses were out of operation. No more shortcuts to science drive classes for first years! I was also happy to see new electric buses in service.
5. Building plaques + tabling
On my first FDOC, I remember being so confused because all the buildings on West Campus looked the same and none of them had signs. There was a saying that you could tell who the freshmen were on the first week of classes by picking out students navigating their way on campus with Google Maps. Now, each building has a blue plaque that help new students and visitors identify each building.
But while Duke has changed in many ways since I first started here in 2017, some things will always stay the same — the sense of community, the team spirit, and the beautiful sceneries across campus. I wonder what campus would look like when I come back for my reunion.
Mike is a senior studying Economics and Computer Science and a first year @DukeStudents intern. He loves to travel, play golf and attend different music festivals. On campus, he spends most of his time working on problem sets at the Wellness Center and hanging out with his friends at the Bryan Center.