Duke students support freshman after slur found

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Hundreds of Duke students rallied at the Duke Chapel Friday in support of a freshman after a homophobic slur was found scrawled in his east campus residence hall the day before.

The group showed their support for Jack Donahue, who called what happened to him a hate crime and an assault on Dukes' LGBT community.

"I do not deserve this treatment and no one deserves this treatment," said Donahue.

The message is below, we've blocked out the homophobic word.

The message found scrawled on the wall of a Duke residence hall.

"Cowards are cowards," said Donahue.

"This isn't First Amendment speech. This is not protected - to make death threats to individuals," offered Duke student Tyler Nelson.

The group that rallied Friday said they'd like to see a zero tolerance policy for such behavior at Duke, cultural training for incoming students, and the creation of a sexual studies degree.

"Showing there's merit in studying these things. There's merit in studying women's studies and sexuality studies that all of Duke students don't have to go into finance. They don't have to be medicine doctors and that there's merit to other degrees as well," said Nelson.

Donahue said the crowd of support Friday is reassuring but it has to go deeper.

"It was incredibly important for people to come out and listen to this, but as we said, wearing a shirt and coming to a rally will do nothing," he explained. "Today has had no impact. The impact will come when people go back to their dorms and have these conversations.

For its part, Duke issued a firm statement Thursday saying it's investigating and condemning whoever wrote the message.

"The swift and passionate response by Duke students to this cowardly act, like others before it, demonstrates the integrity and principles of the Duke community far more than any anonymous graffiti. Duke does not and will never condone intolerance, regardless of where and when it arises," said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations.

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