A Duke University vice president announced his retirement Monday following his reaction to an “offensive” rap song that led to the firing of two baristas.
Duke vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta announced his summer 2019 retirement three months after he complained about a rap song playing at a coffee shop that included the word “fuck” and the n-word, reported The News & Observer. Duke subsequently fired the two baristas working in the coffee shop at the time.
The vice president claimed that his retirement had nothing to do with the May 4 incident while speaking with The News & Observer.
“My plans to retire in the summer of 2019 were made more than two years ago,” Moneta said. “When the Provost offered me a new five-year appointment, I told her that it was unlikely that I’d stay that long and shared with her then my intent to retire in the summer of 2019.”
The vice president visited Duke’s Joe Van Gogh coffee shop on a Friday in May to purchase a muffin and heard part of “Get Paid” by Young Dolph, including the line “I fucked her up real good.” He told one of the baristas, Britni Brown, that he found the song inappropriate.
She reportedly shut it off at once, said sorry, and offered to give him the muffin for free. Moneta paid for the muffin, but the coffee chain asked Brown and the other barista, Kevin Simmons, to resign. Joe Van Gogh’s human resources officer Amanda Wiley told them that the coffee shop is contracted by Duke and that the school “has instructed us to terminate the employees that were working that day,” according to a recording of the meeting obtained by Indy Week.
“I’m just kind of shocked,” Simmons said to Wiley. “I didn’t have any control over the music. I’m having trouble understanding how I’m responsible for this.” (RELATED: College Employee Fired For ‘Racially Insensitive’ Rap Picture)
Moneta described the lyrics he heard as “quite inappropriate for a working environment that serves children among others,” but asserted that his involvement in the incident stopped after he contacted Duke director of dining Robert Coffey.
“To those who feel that I’ve flipped on my positions on free expression, I say this,” the vice president told Indy Week. “The artist who wrote, recorded and performed the music is absolutely entitled to do so, however offensive I might find the lyrics.”
Young Dolph subsequently gave Brown and Simmons $20,000 each for their troubles, reported Blavity.
“Larry has turned Duke into a national leader in nearly every aspect of student life,” Duke President Vincent E. Price said in a comment sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation regarding Moneta’s retirement. “We have all benefited from Larry’s wisdom, boundless energy, commitment to diversity and inclusion, deep compassion and concern for the success of our students.”
Moneta cited “unfinished projects” in the announcement, but did not elaborate on the reason for his departure.
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