A Duke University freshman was the target of a death threat in November 2015, his first semester.
“Death to all fags @Jack,” someone scrawled in on the first floor of Jack Donahue’s residence hall on East Campus.
Hundreds of students rallied at the Duke University Chapel in his support and Donahue told the crowd: “I do not deserve this treatment and no one deserves this treatment.”
Now 19 and in his second year, Donahue describes himself as “a proud gay.” A native of Massachusetts, he plans to major in political science with minors in economics and sexuality studies.
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He said he has received a lot of support since the incident, and described the university’s response as “expected but ... also caring and supportive.”
The day after the incident, the Office of Student Affairs released a statement that said, in part: “While the language has been painted over, it does not erase the pain and fear. This is a very serious incident and we will continue to investigate. Please know that Duke does not and will never condone intolerance. We despise the persistence of these hateful behaviors. No one on this campus should ever feel unwelcome or threatened.”
In response to the incident and earlier unrelated incidents – such as the hanging of a noose near the student union in April 2015 – the university formed a task force on bias and hate issues to review Duke’s policies, practices and culture.
As a result, Duke added a new clause in its student conduct policy that any violation that is “motivated in part or whole by race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, genetic information, or age” will be considered an aggravating factor and increase the sanction.