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Letter: How Moneta gets paid

When Durham activists toppled a monument to traitors who fought to own other human beings, Larry Moneta compared their actions to desecration of a Holocaust memorial and asserted that these monuments should be removed through "legitimate, law-abiding processes… however long that may take,” regardless of state laws designed to make that nearly impossible. 

As a high-ranking administrator, it was within Moneta's power to help establish a policy for music played by campus vendors if he perceived a problem. Instead, he chose to scapegoat individual workers. Whether he personally demanded they lose their jobs, which he denies, is irrelevant; he used his power capriciously to punish individuals for violating his personal preferences. If his complaint was misinterpreted by either dining services or Joe Van Gogh management, he did not intervene to protect their livelihoods.

When his colleague, Tallman Trask III, was accused of using a racial slur and striking with his car another woman of color Duke contractor, Moneta did not take a stand. Horrible, but silence regarding pending litigation against his employer is part of his job. When Duke students harmed their peers with racist epithets, Moneta spoke up—to defend hate speech as free speech. Duke should do better, but articulating his employer's position is part of how he "gets paid."

However, this time he chose vindictively harming people with less power over making and enforcing policy to accomplish aims he believes will benefit Duke University. There is no interpretation by which this act is properly within his job description. It does not reduce Duke’s exposure to liability, enforce laws or policies, or improve the quality of campus life. 

The activists who pulled down a monument to racism lack systemic power to achieve their aims. Moneta has power. The activists faced legal, social, and financial costs to stand up for themselves and others. Moneta has deleted his Twitter. 

His own poor decision has revealed Larry Moneta’s character. Keeping him reveals Duke's.

Allison Edgar is a sixth-year Ph.D. student in biology.


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