After faculty and students banned together to dismantle alleged discrimination and unfair wage practices at Duke, the President of the university responded.
We reported earlier that nine students were occupying a university building to push Duke’s administration to address their grievances. After days of negotiations, the students achieved one victory, which was securing an apology from Executive Vice President Tallman Trask, who reportedly hit a staff member with his car and called her a racial slur last fall.
Now the president is addressing the other concerns on the protester’s list, which includes a $15/hr minimum wage increase and the firing of 3 other college administrators.
The letter reads:
Dear Members of the Duke Community,
While Duke has been frequently recognized as a leader in employee benefits and satisfaction, the recent student protest is consistent with our own commitment to continually review and improve our workplace culture. I am writing to inform you that we will be taking the following steps to address issues of respect, civility, wages, and inclusiveness for staff.
To that end, Duke will:
1. Engage a recognized, independent expert to review the grievance and complaint procedures for Duke staff in order to assess their fairness and effectiveness.
2. Review the guidelines for contractors and their employees to ensure they reflect Duke’s core values of civility, fairness and respect.
3. Raise awareness of processes for the recruitment and review of senior administrators.
4. Initiate the process to further raise the Duke minimum wage of $12.00/hour.
This initiative will be led by a steering committee appointed by the president with the advice and counsel of Duke faculty, staff and students. The recommendations of the steering committee will be made available to the Duke community.
I welcome your comments and appreciate your commitment to Duke.
President, Duke University