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A secret no more: Porn pays for Duke student's tuition

Posted February 24
Updated February 26

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— The secret’s out – kinda. And it has become the talk of the country.

A Duke University freshman, described as a Republican and aspiring lawyer, is paying for her $60,000 yearly tuition by performing in adult films.

The student, whose real name has not been revealed, has received both criticism and praise. In an online op-ed, "Lauren" said doing porn allows her to “graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I absolutely love.”

Empowered and happy

In a piece on the website XO Jane, “Lauren” not only details her decision to go into porn but also tries to provide a voice to those who work in the industry.

“I can say definitively that I have never felt more empowered or happy doing anything else,” she wrote. "It is freeing, it is empowering, it is wonderful, it is how the world should be.”

Word of her part-time job spread across campus after one of her classmates, Thomas Bagley, recognized her while watching porn, according to an article in The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper. “Lauren” confirmed the information when Bagley approached her, and asked him to keep her identity a secret.

Instead, he told others at a fraternity rush event, according to the article.

“The storm began when I came back to school from Christmas break, happy and confident in myself,” she wrote in the op-ed.

She first noticed an uptick in Facebook friend requests. Then a fellow student followed her alter ego on Twitter.

“When I got the notification, my heart stopped,” she wrote.

The subsequent reaction on campus and beyond was more than she expected.

”I certainly did not expect that extremely personal information concerning my identity and whereabouts would be so carelessly transmitted through college gossip boards,” she wrote

But while ridiculed, “Lauren” stands behind her decision and has no plans to change her part-time job.

A talker on and off-campus

“Lauren’s” actions do not violate any student code of conduct, said Keith Lawrence, university spokesman.

“While we can't answer any question related to a specific student, there is no restriction in the Duke Community Standard related to appearing in adult films,” he told WRAL News.

“Lauren” has been talked about on CNN and her story has been retold on news and magazine websites across the country, including Cosmopolitan. Online comments to her story, minus many that were deleted, highlight a discussion about elements of the porn industry, including drug use, how women are treated and the role porn plays in society.

But in Durham, the reaction has been mixed.

"A lot of my close friends support her, but I know there are a lot of other people who take a very moralistic perspective on it," said Colm Humphrey, a Duke freshman. "I don't think we have any real right to say that this is a wrong way to do because...Duke's an expensive school."

Many students learned about "Lauren" after the Chronicle article ran on Feb. 14.

"I read it and there was like a hundred comments," said Rachel Silver, a Duke student. "I admire her for coming out and sharing her opinion on the matter and clearing a lot of rumors up."

132 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • ttorilewis2011 Mar 5, 3:20 p.m.

    Her dad is a oncologist makes 300,000 minimum a year .She's already posted an article I Miriam Weeks Duke Porn Star . This is exactly what she wanted fame . Money is the least of her concerns.

  • casoucie Feb 28, 10:25 a.m.

    One of the goals in life should be living debt free, I admire her for doing whatever it takes to better her life without mooching off of someone or putting herself in debt.

  • tom73b Feb 27, 12:07 p.m.

    Her face is pixeled out of her WRAL interview.. no need for that..... That's not the part of her anatomy they would recognize,,,but that being said you go girl.....you do what you have to do to succeed, as long as it is legal. .....Another thing while i am here.. porn is a multi-billion dollar industry..........But nobody watches it????????????????? ..Go fiqure

  • sdjonez Feb 27, 11:04 a.m.

    All this hoopla because Thomas Bagley couldn't keep his mouth shut. Way to go big guy.
    People, tend to your own business unless it is actually harming you personally.

  • glarg Feb 26, 5:15 p.m.

    There is an interview with her on realcleareducation.

    Her father is a doctor and is paying for her her siblings college expenses. And she could have gotten free tuition at Vanderbilt.

    Is this "backed into a corner" thing is falling apart.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 26, 5:08 p.m.

    BATCAVE,

    I'm not in fear of a porn star robbing me at fun point. ;-)

    And, Puritans are people who self-claimed that they had “high morals” and stopped at nothing to impose those "morals" on others. Sound like a political party that you know? (if not, you may want look at the messages posted here & see who is playing the "moral" card) Meanwhile, your example is about people wanting to be safe and not get killed by these same Puritans.

  • TruDat Feb 26, 3:21 p.m.

    Ask not for whom the bell knocks; it knocks for thee.

  • HeadsUp Feb 26, 10:31 a.m.

    "Lauren's" op-ed states:

    "My experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering. ... For me, shooting pornography brings me unimaginable joy. ... It is my artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home. I can say definitively that I have never felt more empowered or happy doing anything else. ... It is freeing, it is empowering, it is wonderful, it is how the world should be.”

    It turns out that "Lauren's" "supportive, empowering, wonderful, fulfilling, unimaginably joyful" work includes a brutal porn video in which she is repeatedly choked, slapped in the face, and forced to perform certain sex acts. The video is deeply disturbing.

    If that kind of portrayal of violent sexual subjugation is what Duke University's Women's Studies curriculum teaches its students "empowers" women, then they are in serious trouble. For that is NOT how the world should be.

  • serenanjewell Feb 26, 8:27 a.m.

    I'm all for a woman's right to do whatever she wants with her body and mind, but I cannot fathom how anyone can justify spending $240,000, regardless of how it is earned, on a degree in Women's Studies. With that degree and that sort of debt, you can bet your bippy this is a woman who would end up in one demeaning job or another.

  • nufsaid Feb 25, 7:36 p.m.

    I can't help wondering if this is all a hoax.

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