Alumni in support of Duke’s “The People’s State of the University”

Dear Duke Administration,

We write this letter to express our support for The People’s State of the University and their protest that occured on April 14th. We applaud student protesters’ bravery and vision for an equitable and just Duke University. While students have been relieved from disciplinary action, we demand that protest policies be updated through a transparent process that allows for future student activism without disciplinary review or penalty. Furthermore, we lift up their list of demands.

Duke University’s administration must recall that student activism remains a key element in positive institutional change. If not for the Allen Building Takeovers of 1969, Occupy Allen Movement of 2016, and other calls for change, there would be fewer resources and support for students of color on campus. Time and time again, the administration has not taken action to increase equity without student protest as a catalyst. In addition, it is critical to note that this type of democratic participation aligns with the University’s mission to encourage “full [student] participation as leaders in their communities” to sustain “deep appreciation for the range of human difference and potential, a sense of the obligations and rewards of citizenship, and a commitment to learning, freedom and truth.” Accordingly, Duke must honor its mission statement by understanding student protest as fundamental in improving student, staff, and faculty experiences.

As alumni, our role is to support current students, to seek to understand the challenges they face, and to advocate for vital institutional changes alongside them. We ask that the University address the alumni present at the protest for their unacceptable behavior. The University encourages alumni to engage in conversation, yet these alumni chose to curse, to boo, and to tell a student to go back to her country. As fellow Duke alumni, we condemn the behaviors of others meant to intimidate and discourage student leaders in their efforts to improve the Duke community. The efforts of student activists safeguard the rights of all Duke students to feel welcome and safe on campus. In addition, Duke Student Affairs must work with Duke Student Government and other student leaders to update their Pickets, Protests and Demonstrations policy. Currently, the policy reads, “Disruptive picketing, protesting, or demonstrating on Duke University property or at any place in use for an authorized university purpose is prohibited.” Such a policy obstructs students from challenging the very mechanisms of the institution that withhold equity and progress. 

Given our current national political context, the administration should reflect on the necessity of institutional support for students, staff, and faculty of color. As alumni of the University, we implore Duke University to meet the group’s list of demands, which includes implementing a $15/hr pay for all employees, hiring faculty of color, and increasing CAPS and Duke Women's Center funding for trauma-trained counselors and psychologists, among many others. We ask that you take the time to sit down with activists and other student leaders and execute actionable steps to address their concerns.

In Solidarity,

Karina Santellano, Trinity 2015

Nali Gillespie, Trinity 2015, Duke University School of Medicine 2021

Christophe Viret, Trinity 2015

Tra Tran, Trinity 2015 & Masters of Science in Global Health 2019

Jennifer Moreno, Trinity 2015 

Felicia Arriaga, Trinity 2012, Duke University Sociology PhD 2018

Jessica Jara, Trinity 2017, Duke Teaching Preparation Program 2018

Leasly Salazar, Trinity 2015

Brendane Tynes, Trinity 2015

Jennifer Acosta, Trinity 2017

Destiny Hemphill, Trinity 2015

Kimberly Higuera, Trinity 2014

Brittany DuChaussee (Hesbrook), Trinity 2010

Paul Cajamarca, Trinity 2017 

Elena Ashly Dudel, Trinity 2012

Emmanuela Jean-Etienne, Trinity 2014

Kristen Lee, Trinity 2013

Lexia Chadwick, Trinity 2015

Christine Contreras-Slaughter, Trinity 2011

Amy Wang, Pratt 2016

Brenda N. Onyango, Trinity 2016

Andrea Mendoza, Trinity 2015

Jonathan Hill-Rorie, Trinity 2015, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, MPH 2019

Stanley Yuan, Pratt 2016

Mayyadda Major, Trinity 2015

Lisa Wanda, Trinity 2015; UNC School of Medicine 2021

Jillian Williams, Trinity 2015

Laura Mkumba, Trinity 2015

Katherine Barahona, Trinity 2017, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, MPH 2019 

Imari Smith, Trinity 2016; UNC-Chapel HIll Gillings School of Global Public Health, MPH 2018

Edwin Coleman, Trinity 2011

Rachel White, Trinity 2014

Jocelyn Streid, Trinity 2013

José Sandoval, Trinity 2017

Jason M Maher, Trinity 2015

Cody Parrott, Trinity 2016

Kamry Goodwin, Trinity 2016

Anthony Henry, Trinity 2015

Chioma Iwelumo, Trinity 2016

Yemi Adewuyi, Trinity 2016

Martavius Parrish, Trinity 2014

Cristina Martinez, Trinity 2016

Katie Jane Fernelius, Trinity 2016

Jessica Alvarez, Trinity 2015

Liliana Fiorenti, Trinity 2015 

Morgan Sheppard, Trinity 2011

Jaclyn Grace, Trinity 2015

Janet Saldana, Pratt 2016

Mariel Charles, Trinity 2015

Kaylin Tsukayama, Trinity 2015

Morgan Irons, Trinity 2017

Rory Eggleston, Trinity 2017

Kailani Montane, Pratt 2017

Danica Liu, Trinity 2015

Henry Washington, Jr., Trinity 2017

Ray Li, Trinity 2015

Anastasia Kārkliņa, Trinity 2014, Duke University Literature PhD 2021

Dominique Beaudry, Trinity 2015, Master of Arts of Teaching 2018 

Sai Panguluri, Trinity 2017


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