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Where is the line? Asking for a friend

I would like to pose a couple of questions to those members of the Duke “family” who believe the administration is doing enough to address issues of hate and discrimination on campus. Note the quotations, meant to illustrate how loosely a term can be applied as a mere buzzword where it does not belong. The inability of our administrative “parents” to protect and educate the children with which they have been entrusted seems antithetical to my understanding of “family.” Then again, maybe minority students at Duke are the black sheep of this family. Sobering pun entirely intended.

What does the fact that exactly zero students are “shocked and appalled” by the defacement of the Mary Lou Williams Center tell you? What does the fact that an act of hate is as inevitable on Duke’s campus as the men’s basketball team making the NCAA tournament tell you? Oh, and by the way, how do you think our star recruits feel on a campus that has decided their labor is more important than their identities? If I were them, I wouldn’t leave Cameron Indoor, probably the only place on campus left undesecrated by unchecked hate.

Now, Duke administration: what act will be sufficiently black and white for you to take decisive action? Personally, I have tired of task forces, open forums, discussions, and statements—these being the Duke equivalent of thoughts and prayers. Duke’s policy towards hate and discrimination has been all research and no development. There is no sign of a potential product anywhere. Why?

Dr. Moneta: you haven’t failed to decry each and every one of Donald Trump’s acts of hate-mongering with impassioned vigor. Why do you not express that same disgust towards the perpetrators of the same behavior on your own campus? Do these acts not hit home and strike a personal chord? While your desire to work towards a “socially just campus” is noble, determination is meaningless without at least a baby step forward. I know you are preparing to enter a new chapter, but ask yourself how you wish for each of the sectors of Duke community to remember you.

President Price: We’ve never met, but I can tell you that the use of the pronoun “our” was quite inappropriate. If your “right to live and study” was threatened, I assure you that you would be inspired to take immediate, decisive, condemnatory action to makes it crystal clear that such behavior is intolerable. I know this because, even as an alumna, as a member of Black Duke, I felt threatened and dropped everything to type this response in a flurry of fiery emotions.

Furthermore, promising to “acknowledge and challenge” is just an eloquent way of saying you will notice these acts on campus and you will disagree with them. There is nothing in your statement to inspire faith that the administration will take preventative action, there is only defeated acceptance that these incidents will continue to occur.

Finally, as much as you would like to blame the “provocateur” for the distrust on campus, something tells me it is not the other students that we distrust. We are not so naive to expect that hate and discrimination will suddenly vanish from the spaces and places we hold dear, as we are not so unreasonable to allow a few bad apples to ruin the bunch. In truth, if the administration were to take a stance of zero tolerance, I assure you the community would stand together, strong and unafraid, confident in Duke’s alleged “commitments to inclusion, tolerance, and respect”. As it stands now, however, this “odious” behavior is considered so unimportant that it lacks consequence. Maybe the inconsequentiality is what fuels its persistence.

I’ve graduated and moved a safe distance away, so I’m asking for my friends: what will it take to get the administration to own their responsibility to the entire Duke community? 

Amani Carson is a Duke alumna, Trinity '17.


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