Local News

Duke Student Causes International Controversy

Posted April 17, 2008 9:18 p.m. EDT
Updated April 17, 2008 10:54 p.m. EDT

— A Duke student’s actions at a pro-Tibet vigil last week have ignited an international controversy, even prompting death threats, the student said Thursday.

Freshman Grace Wang, 20, intervened last Wednesday night when a pro-Tibet vigil was met with a counter-protest on the college campus. Wang stepped in, trying to make the two sides talk.

“I want to help them make two into one. Maybe instead of pro-Tibet, pro-China, we can just have pro-human rights in Tibet,” Wang said.

The day after the protest, Wang discovered pictures of herself online. She said she was being called a traitor and receiving death threats.

Wang claims her personal information and information about her family in China were also released online. Now her family has moved into hiding.

Wang’s personal information was released on an e-mail list affiliated with the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, a Duke student organization. The group stresses the list is open to the public and has more than 900 members. The group said it condemns the behavior of a few anonymous subscribers.

Duke's vice president for student affairs, Larry Moneta, said there is no way to know if the person who posted Wang’s information is affiliated with the university because the list is public.

Wang is consulting with a lawyer to see if the information can be traced.

Since last week, Wang has made international headlines. She was featured on the front page of The New York Times.

Wang said recent support has eased her fears.

“It made me stronger. It made me stronger. It gave me more hope than before,” Wang said.