Duke University apologizes after VP gets baristas fired over Young Dolph song

Young Dolph thegrio.comLOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 25: Rapper Young Dolph performs onstage at night four of the Late Night Concert during the 2017 BET Experience at The Novo by Microsoft on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

A controversy over a Young Dolph song playing in a Duke University coffee shop that led to the firing of two baristas resulted in angry protests on Wednesday.

The owner of the Joe Van Gogh coffee company apologized for his handling of a situation that saw two baristas get fired after a Duke Vice President for Student Affairs, Larry Moneta complained about Dolph’s “Get Paid” (Warning: NSFW, obviously) being played and wanted them to CutIt.

Moneta expressed his displeasure over the song and the barista Brittni Brown turned it off and apologized, even offering him a free muffin. He declined it and insisted on paying.

Afterwards, however, Moneta reported the incident to the director of Duke’s dining services, which in turn led to the firing of Brown and her co-worker.

Robbie Roberts, the coffee business owner, posted a statement on its website Wednesday after the firings made national news. He said the company was taking steps “to remedy this matter.”

“Joe Van Gogh apologizes to our employees, customers and community for how we handled a situation involving our Duke University store,” Roberts said. “We attempted to understand Duke’s position in this case, but we should have taken a different approach in making personnel decisions.”

The controversy grew into a full-on protest on Wednesday afternoon, after more than a dozen protesters gathered outside the shop blasting the Young Dolph song. The demonstration was attended by students and some Joe Van Gogh employees, including the two who were fired.

Carrying a boombox that looped the song in question, “Get Paid” by Young Dolph, the group made its way into the student union to Moneta’s office. He allowed a few protesters in for a short conversation.

Dolph even chimed in on Twitter:

Moneta later wrote on Facebook that it was not his intent to have the employees fired, which seems to contradict the Indy Week story that said that Duke officials demanded the terminations.

“I felt and still feel that the choice of music for the venue was inappropriate,” he added. “But if my actions in any way lead to their dismissal, I apologize and hope that the JVG management consider ways to reinstate their employment with the company.”

For what it’s worth, Brown said she didn’t want her job back.

“Honestly, working here was pretty amazing,” said Brown, 24, of Durham. But, she added, “I have already made my mind up that I am not returning to Duke or Joe Van Gogh.”

Brown said she had heard rap with explicit lyrics at a number of public spots on campus. She said the baristas had chosen a playlist that included “Get Paid,” but did not specifically choose the song. “This was like an honest mistake that just happened to pop up on a playlist,” she said.

She thanked the protesters for showing support on Wednesday, adding, “you don’t know what this means to me, as a lowly African American barista working on a white supremacist campus.”


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