Dear Ms. Yang,
Your recent column made me laugh out loud. In case it was not a spoof of PC culture run amok, please note the following:
- The land Duke West Campus sits on was not stolen from anyone, but purchased in the 1920s. The tribes you list were not in the area by then; maybe the treatment of Native Americans is not a source of pride for modern-day descendants of European settlers, but that is a different topic. The land Duke East Campus sits on was not stolen, but donated to Trinity College by Julian Carr around 1892, when Trinity College moved to Durham.
- Maybe you were disappointed by Duke’s opposition to the light rail proposal, but the opposition was based on valid considerations; reasonable people can differ. Rail is a very expensive way to move people around; just look at Atlanta.
- “Union busting” is an inherently political term, so I disregard it.
- Is Duke University guilty of “hate and bias crimes?” Recent events in the chronology linked to your column are mostly a collection of individual vandalism incidents and a self-congratulatory list of demonstrations and petitions.
- Your column alleges that Duke has a “moniker of ‘the plantation.’ ” But Duke University was established around 1930, more than six decades after the Civil War; plantations were long gone. A guess: you’re not in the History Dept.
- “Settler-colonial” institution? Durham was chartered in 1869 and settled long before that, decades before Duke or Trinity was established. North Carolina ceased to be a UK colony in the late 18th century.
- Duke University does not “hoard” its $8.6 billion endowment; in fact, the endowment spends 5.5% of its funds (over $400 million?) every year to support the University, and over 20% of the endowment is ear-marked for financial aid, as you know. One of my favorite sayings: “No good deed goes unpunished.”
I have a suggestion: you should pretend that Duke University was liquidated before you arrived, and please make sure there is no reference to Duke on your resume or CV. Duke will be around for the rest of your life, whether you like it or not. And Duke doesn’t need your money, so quit worrying about it.
By the way, I dare the Chronicle to publish this letter.
Very truly yours,
Charles H. Ogburn
Class of ’77
Editor’s note: “The plantation” is a popular nickname used by some staff and activists in reference to the University. Read about its history here. Annie Yang is a History major and a member of the Phi Alpha Theta.
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