The words “F*** Rona” were found written at the top of a mural in the Levine Science Research Center last Thursday, an act of vandalism that Toddi Steelman, Stanback dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment, said appears to target the Asian community at Duke.
The vandalism defaced the Nicholas School of the Environment’s Career and Professional Development Center mural, which depicts a dog, a cat and a duck surrounded by foliage. Steelman said the vandalism appears to target the Asian community because the artist of the mural is Chinese.
Steelman said that the perpetrator is unknown, and the incident happened sometime between mid-March and when the vandalism was discovered by the muralist, who saw her defaced work through a building window.
Steelman said she has spoken with the Duke University Police Department, who explained that the perpetrator could have been one of the 50 people who currently work in the building, or may have been let in by a Duke employee.
“Unfortunately, there have been recent reports of xenophobic and racist incidents targeting members of the Asian community throughout the United States,” Steelman wrote in a Tuesday email to Nicholas School students. “I want our Asian community members to know that we stand as allies to support you unconditionally through these challenging times. What hurts you, hurts us all.”
Steelman also included in the email Duke’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, which states, “Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard.”
This is a developing story and will be updated if more information becomes available.