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Duke University Statement Re: Joe Van Gogh

Last week, a Duke official raised concerns about the fact that a song with lyrics containing offensive and explicit language was being played in the Joe Van Gogh coffee shop on campus. Those concerns were brought to the attention of Joe Van Gogh’s management, which took actions with regard to the employees for which Robbie Roberts, the owner, has now apologized in the following statement:


Joe Van Gogh apologizes to our employees, customers and community for how we handled a situation involving our Duke University store. As you have read, it is true that Joe Van Gogh is a contractor to Duke. We attempted to understand Duke’s position in this case, but we should have taken a different approach in making personnel decisions. As the owner of the business, I take full responsibility for Joe Van Gogh’s actions. I apologize to all of the people directly involved and those who have been touched or offended, of which there are many. We are taking steps to remedy this matter, but all company personnel issues are private and will remain private. Again, my truly sincere apologies.

Robbie Roberts
Joe Van Gogh


We appreciate Mr. Roberts’ statement and his commitment to remedy the matter with the individuals involved, and regret the pain this incident caused to those who look to Duke to uphold the highest values of fairness and equity to all members of our community.