Police are investigating after a carved pumpkin featuring a swastika was found near a dorm building at Duke University overnight.
The pumpkin was one of two racially charged incidents reported, according to the university.
Sheets of paper with the words “it’s okay to be white” were found on a bench near Baldwin Auditorium on the school’s East Campus, said Michael Schoenfeld, the university’s vice president of public affairs and governmental relations.
“We denounce these actions for what they are: cowardly acts of vandalism that are intended to intimidate, but instead remind us that we are, and will continue to be, a strong, inclusive community that stands up to hate and bigotry,” Schoenfeld wrote in an email to The News & Observer on Thursday.
Campus officials have not yet determined who is responsible for the pumpkin or fliers, Schoenfeld said.
The Chronicle, the student newspaper at Duke, first reported about the incidents.
According to The Chronicle, Duke University Police Chief John Dailey urged anyone with information about the incidents to contact his office.
“Multiple staff members have been working on this,” Dailey reportedly wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “Any member of the Duke community who may have information or who may have seen something related to this may call us at 919-684-2444 or report anonymously through the LiveSafe app or on the Duke Police webpage.”
Duke University has seen other racially charged incidents recently.
In August, someone scrawled a racial slur on a sign for the university’s Center for Black Culture.
At the time, Schoenfeld described the slur as the N-word and said it was written in pen in 1-inch letters. The sign was repainted.
In May, Duke found itself at the center of controversy after two bariastas at the Joe Van Gogh coffee shop on campus were fired.
They lost their jobs after Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta visited the shop and complained about a rap song being played that included multiple profanities and use of the N-word.
Soon after the baristas were fired, Duke University President Vincent Price apologized for a campus climate marred by recent racially charged incidents: a racial slur scrawled on a dormitory door, a social media post that used what Price described as “abhorrent language” and anti-Semitic posters that were distributed in Durham.
Price said at the time that the incidents represented a disturbing trend.
“Something has to change,” he wrote in an email to students, faculty and staff. “I will simply say that I am deeply sorry that we are not where we want to be as a university.”