Duke sit-in reaches stalemate after admin. rejects demands
Duke University administrators have flatly rejected calls to continue negotiations with student protesters but the student government passed a resolution in support of the week-long sit-in, calling it a way for students to “peacefully express their frustrations with university governance.”
Nine students began their illegal occupation of the president’s office last Friday and vowed to remain until all of their demands were answered. Thus far, at least two of their demands have been met, including immunity from trespassing charges, and Duke’s president promised to work with students on the remainder of their demands over the course of the semester.
But his promise did not suffice for student protesters, who called his statement “too vague, too noncommittal, and too non-comprehensive” for them to end their sit-in.
Consequently, the administration has now backed down from its promise to work with protesters and refuses to cooperate until they vacate the premises.
“We offered to negotiate if they left the building,” Vice President for Public Affairs Michael Schoenfeld wrote in an email on behalf of the administration. “That didn’t happen, so we’re not negotiating and we’re done with demands.”
Schoenfeld also noted that the university could still potentially punish the protesters for occupying “roof areas” of the president’s office that are not “explicitly covered” by immunity.
The student government, however, passed a resolution in support of the sit-in, saying students should be granted academic immunity, but not necessarily unconditional immunity.
“The DSG [Duke Student Government] Executive Board believes that the ongoing occupation of the Allen building should have no effect on the academic standing of any of the protesters inside,” the student government wrote when announcing the passage of its resolution. “We believe that activism should not impact students’ academic opportunities and ability to graduate.”
The protesters have now missed a full week of classes and have caused the cancellation of several others.
The resolution passed with a vote of 29-8, but several student senators abstained from the vote, saying “it is not DSG’s position to be passing something in support of a particular group.”
At the time of publication, students were still occupying the president’s office, pushing their sit-in on the brink of a week. Dozens of their supports have been camped outside the president’s office since Sunday night.
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