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Duke Students Reach Out To Durham Through Volunteer Work

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DURHAM, N.C. — Some Duke University students are working to repair relations between the school and the city of Durham with a little sweat equity.

Duke students are investing in the community through a program called "Project Build." Nearly 150 students have fanned out across the city, helping nonprofits or local elementary schools.

"It helps you get out of the bubble that is Duke and get to know the community you're going to be a part of for four years," said Duke student Rita Baumgartner.

Project Build runs the entire week. However, this kind of project is not unique. Three out of four Duke students volunteer in Durham.

While Project Build has been around for 17 years, this year reaching out to the community means more than ever. Rape allegations made by an exotic dancer against Duke lacrosse players have strained relations, and some people in Durham have questioned the school's commitment to the community.

"Now in light of the incident, it's important for people to begin to understand," said Michael Palmer with Duke's Department of Community Affairs.

Students said some people have painted the university with a broad brush after the rape controversy.

"The lacrosse incident unfortunately revived the negative stereotype of us and Duke," said student Roy Kwon.

"People don't always hear what you say, but they always see what you do," said student Beatrice Johnson.


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