Duke, Joe Van Gogh release statements on employees' termination

Duke and Joe Van Gogh have released statements on the termination of two baristas due to playing a rap song.

In a release on Duke Today Wednesday afternoon, the University wrote that a Duke official raised concerns about a song "containing offensive and explicit language" being played inside the coffee venue and that these concerns were raised to the company's management. 

Here is the full text of the coffee chain's statement:

Joe Van Gogh apologizes to our employees, customers and community for how we handled a situation involving our Duke University store. As you have read, it is true that Joe Van Gogh is a contractor to Duke. We attempted to understand Duke’s position in this case, but we should have taken a different approach in making personnel decisions. As the owner of the business, I take full responsibility for Joe Van Gogh’s actions. I apologize to all of the people directly involved and those who have been touched or offended, of which there are many. We are taking steps to remedy this matter, but all company personnel issues are private and will remain private. Again, my truly sincere apologies.

Robbie Roberts
Joe Van Gogh

The Duke statement said that the University appreciates Roberts' commitment to fix the issue.

"We appreciate Mr. Roberts’ statement and his commitment to remedy the matter with the individuals involved, and regret the pain this incident caused to those who look to Duke to uphold the highest values of fairness and equity to all members of our community," the Duke statement said.

Larry Moneta, vice president of student affairs, was the Duke official who witnessed the music in the coffee shop. He made an addendum to the University's official statement in a Wednesday afternoon post on his Facebook page that was shared with The Chronicle by Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. 

"It was never my intent that any of the Joe Van Gogh employees be terminated," Moneta wrote. "I felt and still feel that the choice of music for the venue was inappropriate, but if my actions in any way lead to their dismissal, I apologize and hope that the JVG management consider ways to reinstate their employment with the company.”

Check back for updates.

This article was updated Wednesday afternoon to include Moneta's comments.


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