An Apology as Duke Sit-In Continues

April 5, 2016

Duke students camp out in tents during a sit-in of the university's main administration building.As of Monday evening, nine students continued to occupy the main administration building at Duke University, protesting what they see as poor treatment by the university of its employees. One of the grievances concerns an accident involving Tallman Trask, Duke’s executive vice president, who a parking attendant has charged hit her with his car and used a racial slur before a 2014 football game. Trask has apologized for hitting the parking attendant, Shelvia Underwood, which he says was accident, but denied using a racial slur.

On Monday, he issued a public apology to Underwood. "I want to say a word to the Duke community about my interaction with Shelvia Underwood in August 2014, which has been a subject of much recent discussion," said Trask's statement. "While the details of what happened are a matter of disagreement and subject of civil litigation, I recognize that my conduct fell short of the civility and respectful conduct each member of this community owes to every other. I express my apology to Ms. Underwood and to this community and recommit myself to ensuring that these values are upheld for all."

The students occupying the building did not leave as a result of the apology, and others are camping outside the building to express support (above right).

Duke announced Monday that it would not continue negotiations with the students as long as they remain in the administration building, the Allen Building, which has been closed since the students occupied it. "Closing the Allen Building while these negotiations go on has presented a significant disruption to students, faculty, staff and visitors, and cannot continue indefinitely. As a result, the university will only continue negotiations after the nine students voluntarily leave the Allen Building," said a statement from Duke.

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