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This message is being sent to all Duke graduate, professional, and undergraduate students:
Dear students, 
We write to notify you that our offices are investigating a possible violation of the Duke Community Standard and the Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct (PPDHRM).  We also write to provide resources and information to anyone who might be impacted by what has transpired. 
Details of Incident:  
On Thursday, OIE and Student Affairs received reports that a Ramadan mural on campus was altered in a way that was understood by many in our community to explicitly target Muslims and the Islamic faith. The original mural was painted on the trestle bridge on Campus Drive, commonly called the free expression bridge.   
  • The Quranic verse: "Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful" had the word “not” added before the word “Merciful,” changing the meaning of the verse.  The act of defacing this verse by changing its meaning can be particularly affronting and impactful to Muslims. Incidents such as this feed existing stereotypes that can lead to violent acts against Muslims. 
  • Additionally, images of flags of several majority Muslim nations were part of the original mural.  These flags were covered by posters of red cows. Red cow imagery has recently been connected to calls to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque, the holy Muslim site in Jerusalem.  
  • In light of these concerns, we have taken the step of having the graffiti painted over. 
Earlier this semester, Duke included a definition of Islamophobia in examples of what constitutes discrimination, harassment, and related misconduct in the PPDHRM policy. We did this to reinforce our existing values and clarify that acts of harassment and discrimination against those who practice Islam or are from a Muslim majority country are prohibited under the Policy.   
Next steps: 
The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS), is currently investigating the incident to determine if more can be learned about the circumstances surrounding this event. Anyone who has more information can report it here.   
At Duke, we firmly believe in freedom of expression while creating a community of care. Hate has no place in the Duke community. Justice and equity are not just ideals; they are guiding principles that shape our interactions and decisions. Our policies serve as a framework to help navigate the complexities of today’s world and to uphold our values of inclusivity and respect while ensuring safety for our community.  
Thank you for your thoughtful engagement with your fellow students and for your attention to this matter. 
Sincerely yours,
Mary Pat McMahon 
Vice Provost and Vice President, Student Affairs 
Kimberly Hewitt  
Vice President for Institutional Equity and Chief Diversity Officer

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