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Remove Tallman Trask III

This petition had 269 supporters

   On August 30th 2014, Tallman Trask, Executive Vice President of Duke University, vehicularly hit Ms. Shelvia Underwood, a parking attendant working the Duke-Elon game, after a verbal exchange in which Trask was reluctant to show his parking pass. When asked about the incident by the Duke Chronicle, almost two years later, he initially lied about hitting her. Only when presented with a copy of his apology note did Trask acknowledge that he did, but claims it was accidental. In addition to hitting her, Ms. Underwood maintains the Executive Vice President used racial epithets toward her during this incident. Trask denies these allegations.

   Although she feared losing her job with McLaurin Parking and Transportation, Ms. Underwood attempted to file a report with Duke Police and is now pursuing a lawsuit. As of now, DUPD has declined to release the full report citing that they are a private company. Read more about the incident here.

   What Trask did to Shelvia Underwood was potentially life endangering. Regardless of what Trask said (and we believe Underwood’s account), his callous indifference to her safety was expressed by the fact that he was “extremely frustrated” after hitting her with his car, and had to be coerced into apologizing. This is enough evidence to demonstrate that he has no place in the Duke community. Our community standard is based on the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability. Trask was dishonest when responding to the Chronicle, disrespectful to Ms. Underwood, and has not been held accountable for his actions that night. The potential of interpersonally racist behavior from Trask highlights the institutional racism that Duke has been challenged to respond to. Rather than ignoring this incident, Duke University should strive to make sure employees, students, and other members of the Duke community are safe and treated without prejudice as they work, study, and play.

    The Asian American Alliance, Students for Justice in Palestine, United Students Against Sweatshops, Mi Gente, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Blue Devils United, Muslim Students Association, Native American Students Association and Diya stand in solidarity with Shelvia Underwood. We are also calling for Tallman Trask’s resignation and we demand that Trask issue appropriate financial reparations to Ms.Underwood. Sign this petition and show your support.

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