Nine Duke University students have occupied an administrative building on campus, demanding that three senior university officials resign after an incident in which a parking attendant was reportedly called a "stupid n—ger," Gawker reports.
The alleged incident unfolded Aug. 30, 2014, before a football game against Elon. The executive vice president of the school hit a parking attendant with his car before allegedly calling her a "stupid n—ger" and driving off. The nine students occupied an administrative building after an investigative report by the Duke Chronicle and began demanding the resignation of three senior university officials.
The parking attendant, Shelvia Underwood of McLaurin Parking and Transportation, filed a police report with the university's Police Department a few days after the incident, accusing Executive Vice President Tallman Trask of hitting her with his car, Gawker reports. However, under pressure from her boss, and out of fear that she would lose her job if she filed a lawsuit, Underwood told the Chronicle that she relayed to Trask that she would be fine with a "sincere apology."
About three weeks later, Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanugh delivered a note to Underwood.
"A tall guy comes up behind me and says, 'Um, I don't know exactly what happened out here, but whatever, here you go.' And he hands me a card," she told the Chronicle.
The note, which was signed by Trask, read, "Dear Ms. Underwood, I very much regret the incident before the Elon football game. I should have been more patient and I apologize," the Chronicle reports.
Trask had denied the claims, but after being shown a copy of the note, admitted to hitting Underwood with his vehicle, though he still denied using the slur, according to the Chronicle.
Last month, Underwood filed a $100,000 lawsuit against Trask, accusing him of battery, negligence, civil conspiracy and obstruction of justice, Gawker reports. The university is listed as a second defendant.
On Friday afternoon, nine members of the Students and Workers in Solidarity coalition group occupied the Allen Building on campus after a protest calling for the resignations of Trask, Cavanaugh and Parking and Transportation Director Carl DePinto.
The student protesters said that officials have already warned them of the disciplinary actions that could be taken against them.
"It's going to be a warning, a citation, another warning and they're going to be move into the Duke disciplinary process. There are two things in that, both taking us to Student Conduct and a judicial board, and then after that another warning and possibly arrest," student Lara Haft told the Chronicle. "That could all be tonight, before tomorrow morning, but it also could be over a couple of days."
The occupiers are asking for administration amnesty; however, Duke's vice president for public affairs and government relations, Michael Schoenfeld, confirmed to the News & Observer that the university had already told students that action would be taken if they were still in the building Sunday night. He did not say what action would be taken.
"It's not in Duke’s interest to arrest us, and it's not in Duke's interest to have us in here for several months. There are thousands of supporters. All of Durham is on our side, and the whole country will be on our side," Haft said. "We don't anticipate going anywhere."