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Letter: GPSC Task Force responds to racist incidents

<p>Rashmi Joglekar, incoming GPSC president, noted that some graduate students do not feel valued by Duke's administration.&nbsp;</p>

Rashmi Joglekar, incoming GPSC president, noted that some graduate students do not feel valued by Duke's administration. 

On Nov. 13, 2018, the Graduate & Professional Student Council passed a Resolution Against Hate & Bias, responding to a string of racist incidents that have targeted black, Latinx, Muslim, and Jewish members of our student body. As stated in its first preambulatory clause, three hateful vandalisms occurred in the span of just two months, from mid-August to mid-October—one of them being the engraving of swastikas in a bathroom stall.

About a week after this resolution passed, our campus has once again seen an attack on the Jewish community in the form of a swastika. We, the members of the GPSC Task Force Against Hate & Bias, firmly denounce this act and stand in solidarity with those targeted by its message. We recognize the great importance of responding to such hateful incidents whenever they occur, and of supporting each other as fellow students and human beings. 

We are immensely glad to see examples of this kind of solidarity already taking place within our university. Mi Gente, who had their own mural defaced in September, quickly posted a note of support to their Facebook page, calling for “togetherness” and promising to “remember these injustices in [their] future alignment against hate.” Likewise, the Duke Black Alumni (DBA), the Black Student Alliance (BSA), and the Students of the Caribbean Association (SOCA) issued an Open Letter to the Duke Community, in which they condemned anti-Semitism and called “on leaders at all levels, students and everyday citizens to condemn all words and acts of hate.” 

Our own resolution calls upon the administration to amend its policies to explicitly define and address expressions of hate and bias and to clarify their consequences. We recognize that hate and bias occur on many different scales, and it is the responsibility of us all to help build safer, kinder, and more welcoming spaces. We promise to hold GPSC to this standard, and we hope that other student organizations will do the same, taking the aforementioned groups as models of what it means to practice good citizenship towards each other.

This letter is signed by the members of the GPSC task force against hate and bias, listed here. Jessica Covil is a second-year Ph.D. student in English. Krishni Metivier is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Asian Religions. Anisa Khalifa is a first-year M.A. student in Critical Asian Humanities. Abby Leinroth is a third year Ph.D. student in Cell Biology. Amanda Ullman is a first-year Master’s student in Environmental Management.

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