Dear Duke University

Below is the letter I sent Duke this morning, in its entirety.

Thank you!


Dear Duke University,

My name is Sadaab Rahman and I am a proud Muslim American as well as a candidate for admission in the Class of 2019. I once thought Durham to be the place where I would be able to extend my boundaries and a precursor to any career in politics, but now, I am thinking differently. It needs to be said for the Barakat and Abu-Salha families, and for the over 65,000 North Carolinians subscribing to the Islamic faith. Duke’s controversial back and forth on the call to prayer was a victory for parochialism.

It’s no secret that Duke has Methodist roots, but it should be much more than that. This is precisely why Chapel staff took the baton when they did – even after the events in Paris – and looked to shift the political winds in another direction. But somewhere between their efforts and Christy Lohr Sapp’s beautifully written op-Ed for the News & Observer did something go so terribly wrong and we can start with the planning or even execution of the entire plan. The question was never if the MSA would be accepting of it, rather the community at large. Intel was not properly assessed through the form of polls or other traditional means and when the announcement dropped two months ago, many felt like they weren’t consulted leading to the strongest opinions from both sides of the aisle. Also, for something that would happen only once a week, be three minutes long, in the middle of the day and be performed through a $12 speaker, it was almost as if the school had broken all barriers. While it was certainly a step forward from a church basement, I’d likely stop from marketing it as anything more than that.

Reverend Franklin Graham, heir apparent to the respected Billy Graham and himself admitting to a youth smoking, drinking, fighting with police and expelled from college, called on donors and graduates to pull funds and boycott, the only thing more ironic being January 16th, Religious Freedom Day, also known as the day the adhaan was never played from the bell tower. And so the man who once called Islam a “very evil and wicked (false) religion,” and on more than one occasion, clashed with our own President won. By giving in to these demands, you secured his motive to bully and showed that you agreed with every one of those hateful words. You threw your 700 Muslim students, each of whom likely pay premium tuition costs or have left their homes, under the bus and added ammunition to the fire that already blazes against them. If we’re perfectly honest here, you shrinked in the face of revulsion, never truly believing in the fight that you set out to fought. To me, this is the exact opposite of leadership.

When I was approached for an alumni interview several weeks ago, I had some serious soul searching to do even after canceling, and I am prepared to go that extra step further today. In what I see to be the strongest statement I can make in my current capacity, I am effectively withdrawing my application from consideration for Duke University. I’m doing this for two main reasons: one, to signal to Duke that this issue can and will affect future enrollment and two, to jump start conversations in what has otherwise reached an impasse. Despite the lost opportunity to stir positive emotions i.e. wonder and calm through sounds that regularly greet visitors in countries Jordan and Turkey, let us strive to make the vision of a Susan Rogers saying, “as an employee of Duke Medical School and an ordained Christian minister, I support the cultivation of diversity and reconciliation in the community and the seminal tenet of pluralism,”and one thousand petitioners like her a reality. Like the ring of peace around a synagogue in Norway, it is my hope that I will one day be able to trust my education in the hands of a more accepting Duke University.

Sadaab Rahman

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