Duke University is investigating a report of racist comments on campus, a university spokesman said Thursday.
A student walking across East Campus early Sunday morning reported hearing one person in a group make racist comments, Duke’s chief spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said.
The university started an investigation when the report was received, he said. A “Bias Action Team” made up of student affairs staff has sought out witnesses, Schoenfeld added.
An email to The News & Observer from a group calling itself Duke People of Color Caucus painted a different picture of a campus incident on Sunday. It said a black female student encountered white male students who sang the same racist chant by recited members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma. A video of that fraternity’s chant went viral and prompted the shutdown of the fraternity and the expulsion of two students.
Duke President Richard Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth sent a message to Duke students Thursday saying they were deeply concerned about Sunday’s incident.
“Inclusivity and mutual respect are core values for any civil society, but they have a special meaning in a university,” the message said. “Thinking in stereotypes is a failure of intelligence...Further, a university is based on the premise that we are all here to learn from each other, which requires a broad measure of inclusion and openness to others’ experience and points of view.”