Duke police have responded to several reported sexual assaults against students over the past couple years. Recently, however, they addressed another issue at the University concerning sexual violence: graffiti in two bathrooms referencing rape.
The disturbing markings come after a student was reportedly raped on West Campus March 19 and another was reportedly sexually assaulted on Central Campus March 21. Although these reported acts occurred over two weeks ago, the graffiti found this week shows that sexual assault remains a prominent issue on campus.
The most recent markings were found in a bathroom in the West-Edens Link and contained the phrase, "I rape more and more," according to Phyllis Cooper, investigations and community affairs commander for the Duke University Police Department. Students reported the graffiti to DUPD at 10 p.m. April 3, just days after another set of markings referring to rape was found in a men's bathroom in Perkins Library.
The markings in Perkins Library read: "They tried to kick me out, but I didn't not let them. They said I was the one with the rapes on campus. I was the one!" News about the graffiti in Perkins quickly spread across campus through various listservs.
Although the two sets of graffiti both dealt with rape and were both written in black marker, Cooper said there is not enough evidence to link the words together at this time. She noted that Duke police are looking at the markings as criminal incidents, which are not to be taken lightly.
"It could be seen as threatening or it could just be someone playing a sick joke, which concerns us as well," she said. "We have to look at all avenues."
Whatever the motives, Cooper said, the perpetrators need to be stopped. She noted that Duke police have collected evidence relating to the two cases and are looking for more information that could lead to identifying the perpetrators.
"We want to enlist the help of anyone who can get the word out about our concerns, to help us put these concerns to rest," Cooper said. "A lot of times, we at the police department can deal with criminal matters but don't necessarily have the resources like Student Affairs that put us in touch with people who might have information."
Cooper stressed that people should not delay reporting new graffiti to the police.
"Sometimes it seems like these things get mentioned to everyone else except us," she said. "If people report to us as soon as possible, we can collect evidence in a timely way and help stop the crime."
The discovery of the graffiti in the WEL came just one day after the close of the Women's Center's Sexual Assault Prevention Week, during which organizers sought to educate people about sexual assault and organize the community around ending violence.
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