Duke University statement on student demands

The following information is provided to Duke Students and Workers in Solidarity in response to their list of demands presented on April 1, 2016:

1. Duke University has well-established internal and legal processes for addressing concerns of any employee, regardless of their position. These are spelled out in the university’s human resources policies, and are covered by state and federal law.

The incident involving Shelvia Underwood and Tallman Trask was immediately reported to Duke Police in August, 2014. Duke Police investigated Ms. Underwood’s allegations under standard procedures. Ms. Underwood chose not to pursue her police complaint.

Duke’s Office of Institutional Equity, which reports directly to the president, conducted a separate and independent investigation of the allegation that a racial comment was made. This investigation also did not produce sufficient evidence to confirm the allegations.

2. Dr. Trask denies that he made any kind of racial comments. He has stated his regrets about the incident and presented a written apology to Ms. Underwood in 2014. He restated that apology in January when asked about it by the Duke Chronicle.

3. Ms. Underwood has filed a civil lawsuit against Duke University and Dr. Trask. As a result, this matter is now subject to a legal proceeding in which everyone involved will have the opportunity to present evidence and a decision will be made through the legal process.

4. Duke employees have access to a four-step grievance process that includes a review panel made up of peers from across the institution and continues through the decision of an independent outside arbitrator, selected by the employee, who evaluates the merits of each case. In addition, any employees can bring forward a complaint of discrimination to the Office of Institutional Equity, or to the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). Former and current employees of Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) who have filed complaints or lawsuits against Duke have all gone through the extensive appeals process available to any employee who is terminated or whose position is abolished as part of a reorganization.

5. Duke has a long history of working with contractors regarding their practices to ensure that their employees are treated equitably and paid fairly. The university is moving towards requiring that all full time subcontractors working on campus be paid the Duke minimum wage of $12/hour.

6. Duke administrators are selected and reviewed through a rigorous process that balances levels of openness and confidentiality to ensure that the university attracts, and retains, the best individuals for leadership positions.

7. Duke is consistently recognized in North Carolina and nationally for its progressive employment and compensation policies. The current minimum wage at Duke is $12/hour – this significantly higher than the federal and state minimum of $7.50/hour. In addition, every full-time employee receives benefits that include paid time off, retirement benefits, health insurance (80% of the cost of which are paid by the university), long-term disability, life insurance and tuition benefits for themselves and their children. Duke’s total compensation package is very attractive relative to o