[UPDATED] Duke Student Government calls on admin to issue university-wide response to University of Virginia, Idaho tragedies

Content warning: This article contains descriptions of violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Thursday at 8:09 p.m. after Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Education sent an email to the undergraduate student body acknowledging the tragedies and providing mental health resources. 

The Duke Student Government Executive Board passed a resolution calling on Duke to issue a university-wide response to recent violence at the University of Virginia and University of Idaho on Thursday afternoon.  

The resolution asked administrators to release an official university statement to the entire student body acknowledging the events and standing in solidarity with the schools, as well as highlight mental health resources for students. The resolution also called for Duke to hold a vigil. 

DSG members also called on Duke leadership to “publish an official stance condemning gun violence,” encourage peer institutions to do the same and highlight resources for students that ensure their safety on campus and in the surrounding area. 

Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Education sent an email to the undergraduate student body Thursday night acknowledging "Sunday night's violence impacting college students." 

"Like you, our teams have been sending support and strength to the incredible Cavalier and Vandal communities over the past days," the email read. "Tragedies like these have an impact far beyond any individual campus."

It referred students to Duke President Vincent Price's Monday statement on Duke Today that "conveyed Duke's support for UVA and Idaho students, families, faculty, and staff."

The email also included resources for students, including Student Affairs Identity and Cultural Centers, DukeReach, Duke Chapel and Religious Life and the Student Affairs' 24/7 on-call team. 

Chris Simmons, Duke's interim vice president for public affairs and government relations, was out of office and did not immediately respond to questions Thursday night about whether the email was sent in response to DSG's resolution and if Duke has any plans to release a statement condemning gun violence. 

Three UVA students — Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D'Sean Perry — were fatally shot Sunday night by Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., also a student. The shooting took place on a charter bus of students returning from a field trip. Jones has since been charged with three counts of second degree murder and three counts of possession of a handgun in the commission of a felony, per the Cavalier Daily, UVA’s student newspaper.

The bodies of four University of Idaho students — Ethan Chapin, Xana Kernodle, Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves — were found near campus Sunday after police responded to reports of an “unconscious body.” Moscow Police Captain Anthony Dahlinger ruled the deaths a homicide.

The resolution called Price’s Monday statement “inadequate,” saying that it “did not identify the systemic causes of these events,  mention the victims by name, nor specify specific health, wellness, and safety resources available to members of the Duke community.” 

Titled “Violence at University of Virginia; Duke Flags Lowered on Campus,” Price’s statement reaffirmed the University’s commitment to “the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff” and encouraged “any member of the Duke community who may need assistance to take advantage of our mental health and counseling resources.” The letter does not specify which resources are available. 

DSG members were “deeply concerned” that the University “has not taken action to directly reach out to its students to acknowledge this tragedy, offer specific support or resources, nor condemn gun violence,” according to the resolution.

The resolution remembered a vigil organized by Duke in 2007 to "honor those impacted by a similar tragedy caused by gun violence at Virginia Polytechnic Institute.” It also linked a statement released by the Duke Chapel, and one from DSG President Lana Gesinsky and Duke University Union President Finn Brauer, which lists mental health resources on campus. 

Mental health resources

Mental health resources are available below for those who may need them at this time: 

Mental health and wellness resources for the 2022-23 year

A list of mental health resources for people of color at Duke and in Durham

A list of local mental health resources for members of the LGBTQ+ community

This story will be updated if more information becomes available. 

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Milla Surjadi | Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator

Milla Surjadi is a Trinity junior and a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator of The Chronicle's 119th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 118.

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Audrey Wang | Data Editor

Audrey Wang is a Trinity senior and data editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 119.


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