After Donald Trump's presidential election victory last Tuesday, several students have reported either experiencing or witnessing incidents involving hate speech on campus—with some noting that Trump's volatile campaign has inspired such rhetoric.
Across the nation, incidents of violence and hate against Muslims, Jews, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community have proliferated, with the Southern Poverty Law Center reporting more than 400 instances of such harassment between Nov. 9 and Nov. 14. In downtown Durham, a wall was painted with the words, "black lives don't matter and neither does your votes," the day after the election. Here at Duke, students said they have witnessed similar racist remarks.
Junior Kelsey Graywill said that she and her roommate overheard someone yell "I hate n***ers" from their room in Craven Quadrangle at approximately 2 a.m. Nov. 12.
"We had heard a lot about people being aggressive and harassing people after the election, and we’ve heard about stuff like that happening on campus before but had never actually heard that in our quad," she said.
She said that although incidents of hate speech are nothing new at Duke, Trump's campaign has made people more comfortable sharing racist views, adding that she thinks there are more Trump supporters on campus than most realize.
"I absolutely think there are more people than we originally thought," she said. "I think that came through on election night, and I think that more and more now that he has been elected, people feel more comfortable talking about how they actually feel and what they actually support."
Junior Sade Abiodun also reported walking on campus behind a group of students joking about racism.
"Part of the group in front of me began joking and laughing about how much one of them (a white male) hated black people," she wrote in an email.
Abiodun noted that the student said "I hate black people" over and over again and also bragged that he was "too racist for Alabama." Another student in the group said her family was biased against Asians, Abiodun added. Many of them said that they had voted for Trump.
She shared the encounter on her Facebook page, which received more than 460 reactions.
"This type of thought process isn't only something going on in 'distant rural America,' this was going on on a college campus, on Duke University's campus," Abiodun wrote.
Some students used the All Duke Facebook page to warn others about hate speech incidents on campus.
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Junior Daniela Saucedo recalled eating a late night meal in an Edens common room with friends when another student passed by the windows yelling hateful and racist things, along with, “Trump is our president now. We won, you lost.”
"Donald Trump gave people the confidence and voice to express their bigotry, but he will not take away the confidence and voice of marginalized people. I encourage everyone to report incidents to the police and to your peers," she wrote in the All Duke post, adding that she had alerted the Duke University Police Department to the incident.
Micheal Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, noted that he has not heard of any instances of hate speech following the election but that students should use resources such as reporting to the Student Affairs staff or DUPD if they experience it.
In response to the hateful rhetoric, students began circulating a petition Tuesday for Duke to declare itself a "sanctuary campus" by refusing to release information about students' immigration status or to comply with immigration authorities regarding deportations. It also asks that Duke guarantee domestic tuition rates to previously awarded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and undocumented students.
As of Tuesday night, more than 500 people had signed the petition.
Students at Brown University, Yale University and Columbia University have also recently called on their colleges to become sanctuary campuses.
"We must uphold our stated commitments to diversity, justice, and inclusion," the Duke petition reads. "We will be following up diligently with Duke community members, including students, faculty, alumni and you, the administration. This is not a moment when we can afford silence, words of comfort or your pity or sympathy."