Duke students storm stage during alumni weekend speech

A group of about 25 Duke University students stormed the stage during the school president's alumni weekend address, interrupting the event for about 15 minutes to issue a list of demands.

The students made a litany of demands, including a $15 hourly wage for all Duke employees, loan-free financial aid, additional psychological counseling, and increased funding for the Women’s center.

Duke is investigating the incident, but has not indicated whether it will pursue disciplinary charges against the students.

Students at Duke University interrupted their president’s alumni weekend speech on Saturday, demanding that he leave the stage and address their lengthy list of grievances.

According to The News and Observer, Duke University President Vincent Price’s speech was briefly interrupted when approximately 25 students stormed the stage with bullhorns and urged him to “get off the stage.”

During the 15-minute interruption, the demonstrators reportedly shouted their list of demands, which were met with a mixed response from the audience.

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The protesters’ demands included a $15 hourly wage for all Duke employees, open Board of Trustees meetings, loan-free financial aid, additional psychological counseling, increased funding for the Women’s center, a new designated community area for the disabled, additional hiring of diverse faculty members, and training programs that teach staff members how to better help student immigrants, the publication reported.  

The protesters also demanded that the school rename the Carr Building, a structure named for North Carolina industrialist Julian Carr, due to his white supremacist views and remarks. 

The students then expressed frustration with university officials, claiming that their drastic demonstration was necessary because administrators do not urgently respond to peaceful actions, according to The Duke Chronicle.

“We can send email after email and we can show up for public forums and talk about these issues, but the university doesn’t feel like there’s an urgency unless we are actively meeting them where they are and making it a spectacle and making it something where they can’t just push it into their spam box,” said protester Sidney Roberts.

Administrators at Duke, however, are reportedly not thrilled with the manner in which the students presented their demands last weekend. 

“Candidly, I think there were better ways to convey their concerns and I shared that with them as best I could,” Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, told the Chronicle.

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President Price also expressed his disagreement with the tactics used by the protesters in a Q&A session following his address to the alumni, saying, “I disagree deeply that this was an appropriate way to handle these issues.”

However, he also expressed willingness to engage with the protesters, albeit in a more appropriate setting.

“We just have to find vehicles to have honest discussion and I’m happy to take up any of the issues which the students raise,” Price later added, as reported by the Chronicle.

According to the report, the administration is examining the behavior of the students during the protest in an effort to determine a suitable response, which could involve disciplinary sanctions.

Duke did not immediately respond to Campus Reform’s request for for comment.

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