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Duke Open Campus Coalition stands in solidarity with Allen Building sit-in students

We, the Duke Open Campus Coalition, stand in solidarity with the nine students staging a sit-in in the Allen Building. Their demonstration is drawing the attention of the Duke and Durham community to the important issue of alleged acts of racial discrimination by Executive Vice President Tallman Trask, Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh and Parking and Transportation Services Director Carl DePinto. Further, the right to peacefully protest always deserves to be respected by the administration, even if—and especially if—the contents of the protest criticize the University.

Under North Carolina law, the refusal “to vacate any building or facility of any public or private educational institution” in response to orders from an administrator is categorized as disorderly conduct. However, the protesters’ seemingly peaceful presence is an expression of free speech and does our University a service, making excessive policing, and especially orders to leave, inappropriate. Duke University’s policy on Pickets, Protests and Demonstrations states only that “Disruptive picketing, protesting, and demonstrating on Duke University property...is prohibited,” and as such, the students’ protest should only be sanctioned if it begins to impede the functions of the University and its community members. Thus, the administration’s threats of disciplinary action on a legal technicality of trespass serve no purpose but to infringe upon students’ dissemination of speech. Worse, it could set a precedent through intimidation to discourage open expression in the future, a prospect which DOCC fully opposes.

The Duke Open Campus Coalition remains dedicated to its vision of a campus and community enriched by open expression and debate. This ideal becomes especially integral when dialogue centers around issues concerning Duke University’s health as an elite, fair and well-respected institution. We behoove the administration, our professors, and our fellow students to set an example in support of speech in all its forms, starting with the administration removing any threat of disciplinary action against the nine students.

The Duke Open Campus Coalition

Tyler Fredricks ‘16, Pi Praveen ‘16, Breanna Atkinson ‘16, Ian Chang ‘19, Zach Heater ‘17, Brian Hopkins ‘16, Brendan McCartney ‘16, Gerardo Parraga ‘18, Sabriyya Pate ‘19, Lopa Rahman ‘16, Victoria Treboschi ‘15, and Caroline Wang ‘19

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