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Upon meeting with all Young Trustee candidates individually, Blue Devils United is excited to endorse candidate Trey Walk for the role of Young Trustee. We believe that Trey has had a strong track record of creating positive change in the Duke community, and demonstrates an unparalleled understanding of the systemic roots of Duke’s institutional shortcomings—particularly regarding LGBTQ+ affairs. We believe that his lived experiences and knack for building relationships through listening will serve to better inform his decisions, as well as that of other members, on the board.
This week, LGBTQIA+ Duke Divinity School students and allies spoke out against the constant marginalization and oppression they face at the hands of the Divinity School’s administration.
On Thursday, Blue Devils United decided to retract its endorsement for the position of executive vice president of Duke Student Government.
Blue Devils United stands firmly against the Trump Administration’s decision to deny the LGBTQ+ community of equity by excluding us from the 2020 Census and American Community Survey. Without information from these demographics, it becomes difficult to enforce various protections, rights and federal laws in protection of the LGBTQ+ community. We believe that the effort put into collecting said data comes at no detriment to the federal government, and the decision to suddenly not collect data from LGBTQ+ individuals comes in the vein of a dangerous line of thinking and beliefs that actively discriminate against marginalized individuals in the United States. We call for the LGBTQ+ community to come together as one in this time of difficulty, and to actively take measures in their communities and reach out to necessary representatives to reverse this decision. As such, we call on the current presidential community to reverse this decision immediately and collect information and sexual orientation and gender identity data on the American Community Survey immediately.
As of Feb. 22, President Trump's administration has rescinded federal guidelines designed to protect transgender students at public schools. This action is a direct attack on transgender communities and transgender rights. While superficially this fight surrounds bathroom usage, we recognize that it is truly about a larger issue: the systematic denial of transgender individuals’ right to exist and participate in public spaces.
The Blue Devils United community stands with those affected and hurt by the actions of President Trump’s administration. We condemn any executive order that seeks to devalue the lives of American citizens and current or hopeful residents on the sheer basis of their ethnicity or their subscription to a certain faith. This administration’s choice to paint immigrants and refugees in a negative light echoes back to the most horrific periods of our world’s history.
Today, a majority of my country told me that I am less than human.
More tragedies have unfolded in the ongoing conflict of police brutality harming black Americans. Women, men, and non-binary people were killed because they were black. They were killed because our justice system systematically devalues their lives. They were killed because, despite increasing protest against police militarization, police continue to build capacity to harm the people they are required to protect and serve.
"There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives.” — Audre Lorde We have been deeply troubled by recent acts of prejudice and hate on campus recently, including the destruction and theft of multiple pride flags (both from dorms and from Abele-ville) as well as the discovery of a white supremacist flyer and the attempted theft of many pro-worker, anti-racist banners in Abele-ville. These hateful events are not ceasing, rather they appear to be escalating: as late last night, the pride flag in A-ville was stolen for the second time and homphobic slurs were used against people in A-ville. The responses to these cruel occurrences from students and administrators alike has been deeply disturbing, and not solely because of the malicious nature of the acts in themselves. In an email that was sent nearly 6 days after these attacks began, Dean Sue Wasiolek and Dr. Zoila Airall stated that these acts of hate are “often viewed as small and insignificant.” This statements leads us to wonder, to whom do these acts seem “small and insignificant?" These acts are far from “small and insignificant,” as they speak to a larger culture of prejudice and discrimination against LGBTQ+ students that informs all hateful acts, from something as seemingly transient as tearing down a flag to the ongoing epidemic rise of transmisogynistic violence, legally mandated antagonism against LGBTQ+ people, and more. Describing these acts as seemingly “small and insignificant” is seeing these events through a tokenizing and othering lens. This characterization of these acts as inconsequential demeans their immutable gravity and minimizes the severity of the consequences of the broader culture that condones LGBTQ+ oppression. In light of the Abele-ville location of one of the flags that was defaced, certain students have expressed anger with the students in A-ville hanging a pride flag in the area. Some felt that it was appropriating queer culture while the protests in A-ville do not necessarily align with the ideals of LGBTQ+ activists nor queer students. While we cannot speak for the entirety of this broad community, as an organization we offer our support to the residents of A-ville in this somber time, we express our agreement with the ideals and goals of Duke Students & Workers in Solidarity, and stand wholly by their decision and right to hang a pride flag in A-ville. To this end, it is critically important to inform our discussions of LGBTQ+ issues with an intersectional perspective. To see discrimination and violence against queer, trans, and intersex people as a separate from discrimination and violence against workers is myopic. Racism, classism, hetero-sexism, cis-sexism, allo-sexism, and anti-intersex discrimination are all inherently tied, as are all other forms of oppression. We are deeply troubled by what we perceive as issues of pinkwashing, or using messages of queer acceptance to veil other forms of oppression, in light of these incidents. The response of the administration and dialogue among students has focused solely on the vandalization of the pride flags, not the circulation of a white supremacist pamphlet that co-occurred with these events. While we were overjoyed to see myriads of pride flags spring up around campus, we wonder why the same visible show of support was not organized for those who were harmed by the white supremacist pamphlet. Similarly, while we commend administrators for releasing a strengthened condemnation of HB2, we could not ignore that this statement was only issued following these hateful events and that this statement was issued in the context of continued resistance from administrations to calls for an end to worker abuse. While this statement was comforting, it did not offer any concrete plans to ensure inclusivity for all members of the Duke community. We hope that the administration follows through on their commitment to a safe environment that they espoused in this statement, meaning the creation of more solidified plans for addressing oppression, rather than issuing statements without actionable goals or creating more task forces with vague intentions that have proven ineffective in preventing discriminatory and cruel behaviors. A vital component of this commitment to safety from hate on this campus is ending worker abuse, especially given that much of this grave mistreatment disproportionately affects workers who are black, Latinx, or otherwise people of color. The negotiations with administrators regarding workers’ rights are at a standstill despite their promise to resume negotiations once students left the Allen building. Issuing a statement to advocate for the repeal of HB2 that Duke's administration is "committed to fostering an open, welcoming, inclusive community" while simultaneously refusing make progress to end the mistreatment of workers seems contradictory if administration is truly committed to inclusion for all. Additionally, the student conduct repercussions that students involved in the takeover of the Allen building are facing are disturbing to us, as they constitute the administration actively working against a movement to make progress towards a safer campus for workers. The contrast between the speed with which these students received student conduct citations from administration (despite the previous promise of unconditional amnesty) and the stalled response to calls to end worker abuse is of deep concern to us.
Blue Devils United, Mi Gente, The Duke University Asian Students Association, The Asian American Alliance, The Duke Muslim Students’ Association, Duke Voices for Interfaith Action and Women’s Housing Option are in solidarity with student efforts to stop the relocation of the Women’s Center. We call on University officials to begin a process of working with students to find a mutually agreeable space that will suit the Center's needs.
Blue Devils United fully supports the nine student occupiers in the Allen building today. We admire their courage as they attempt to serve as a catalyst for justice and confront racism within the university's employment system. We join in the call for amnesty from all punishment for all student occupiers.
After meeting with all of the candidates running for President and Executive Vice President of Duke Student Government and for the Student Organization Funding Committee Chair, Blue Devils United has democratically voted to make the following endorsements:
In a recent letter to the editor from Paul Mees T'86, Duke’s LGBTQ+ community and its allies were reminded of just how far we have come. The letter represented a perspective that was not only lacking in factual accuracy but also a relic of a long-passed era in the United States.
Blue Devils United had the opportunity to meet with all of the candidates for Duke Student Government President, Executive Vice President and SOFC Chair. We were pleased by the candidates’ support for BDU and our ongoing initiatives.
Blue Devils United had the opportunity to meet and speak with all three candidates for the upcoming Young Trustee election. All are exceptional candidates, and it was an absolute pleasure to hear the plans and ideas the candidates have for the Duke community. After careful deliberation and consideration, we are excited to endorse David Robertson for Young Trustee.
After meeting with the three candidates, Blue Devils United is proud to endorse Jacob Tobia for the position of undergraduate Young Trustee.
Blue Devils United is proud to endorse Will Passo for DSG president and Pete Shork for executive vice president. DSG president is first and foremost an advocate for all students. We feel that over the past three years, Passo has gone out of his way to connect with a diverse group of students on campus and has developed a thorough understanding of their issues. His position on gender-neutral housing and women’s safety is particularly compelling. As the undergraduate LGBT organization at Duke, we are confident that he will serve as a strong ally to our students.
Blue Devils United is pleased to endorse Chelsea Goldstein for the position of Young Trustee.