Dear President Price,
Thank you for making the effort to reach out to the broader Duke community. I understand the removal of the statue and support it in spirit, yet I wonder where we as a society are going to stop? I think about how regimes in Russia and China demonized prior regimes and then purged any references to them. It feels like the US is heading in that direction.
During my time at Duke, I remember a prominent supporter of the Vietnam War being booed off the stage before uttering a word. I remember members of the Black Panthers roaming campus, extorting money from students even in the library. Despite detesting the war and supporting the goals of the black community, I found this behavior very disturbing in an environment that was supposed to foster open discourse. Fascist behavior is just that, whether cloaked in “alt-right” or “anti-fa” garb. Based on everything I read about Duke now, that supporter of the war would not even receive an invitation to speak on campus for fear of triggering emotional trauma.
I offer a challenge to you as you embark on your Presidency: create the space for diverse, civil discourse to Duke. Make Duke a place where we can address the problems of our country and seek solutions, rather than perpetuate polarization. From a crass branding perspective, what a great way to differentiate Duke from its peers! More importantly, what a great way to catapult Duke into a position of national Leadership to heal this country’s rifts.
Thank you for your consideration, and best wishes for success in your new role.
Chris (J. Christopher) Smith
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