Saturday, April 07, 2007

88 Ad Questions But No Answers

A year after The Chronicle published as a full-page advertisement Duke faculty’s Group of 88’s inflammatory “listening statement,” disturbing questions about the ad’s funding and sponsorship remain unanswered.

No one at Duke or The Chronicle has explained how 15 academic departments and programs came to be listed on the ad along with the 88 individual faculty members who acknowledge they signed on to it.

Many faculty members in the 15 listed departments and programs say they took no part in their department or program’s ad listing. They weren’t even aware of the ad before it was published.

So how did it happen that Duke faculty in 15 departments and programs didn't know they were being listed on a full-page Chronicle ad that thanked people who harassed and endangered Duke students by, among other odious acts, cheering a “CASTRATE” banner and distributing “Vigilante” posters within sight of Duke President Richard H. Brodhead’s office?

Everyone knows the students pictured on the “Vigilante” poster were targeted.

But who listed the 15 Duke academic departments and programs among those thanking the targeters for "not waiting?"

Brodhead has refused to answer that question, even after he shifted from a “Whatever they did was bad enough” position to an “I’m one of Nifong’s biggest critics” position.

Brodhead’s defenders say he’s not responsible for what they believe is a matter of “faculty governance” in which “Dick can’t get involved.”

They point to Duke’s Provost, Peter Lange: “He’s the highest academic officer. If there’s a mess between departments or about department spending, it’s Peter’s job to fix it, if he can.”

I couldn’t reach Lange before the start of the weekend but I plan to contact him Monday to hear what he has to say. I’ll keep you posted.

My post to Lange will be very simple: Who can claim a Duke academic department or program has signed on to a newspaper advertisement; and on what basis can such a claim be made?

Yes, that will still leave the question of whether Lange believes the ad’s claim regarding the 15 was proper. That’s for another post.

Meanwhile ----

Don’t miss posts by two very well-respected academics, historian KC Johnson and law professor Jim Lindgren. They’re asking very important “who, what and why” questions concerning the ad.

I’ll close with some questions I hope all of us keep asking:

Who paid for the ad?

Did individual faculty members pay for it with their personal funds?

Or were department funds used?

And if department funds were used, which department or departments paid out the money? Who authorized departmental payout(s)?

Or did the money come from one of the many “discretionary funds” which various Duke administrators and senior faculty can access?

If that’s the case, who was the administrator or faculty member accessing a fund and which discretionary fund was accessed?

We can’t rule out the possibility the money came from grant funds. Some grants include in their purpose and terms of use statements what’s often referred to informally as “anything goes” language. Things like: “Funds may also be used to encourage, support and facilitate other activities deemed likely to promote grant purposes as stated in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e).”

Why haven’t Duke and The Chronicle told us who paid for the ad and where the money came from?

Those are simple and easily answered questions unless ...

Let's not be put off!

The public has a right and need to know who paid for an ad thanking those who waved a “CASTRATE” banner, produced and circulated a “Vigilante” poster and by other means harassed and endangered students at Duke and citizens in Durham.

Duke and The Chronicle have an obligation to tell us.

As President Brodhead said a year ago: “This is no time to be playing games.”


Anonymous said...

Terrific work once again by JinC. How sad and outrageous that bogus charges remain against the three lacrosse players. Has anyone contacted Congressman Jones lately?

Anonymous said...

When you asked The Chronicle who paid for the add, what reason did they give you for not telling you who paid for the ad?

straightarrow said...

Brodhead sure is a stand-up kinda guy ain't he? His whole damn family must be ashamed of him.

bill anderson said...

As I have posted elsewhere, if the ad was paid by department funds, but the department chairs did not have authorization, then it would fall into a financial fraud category. One of the ways that tenured professors can be fired is to use university money in a fraudulent way.

I don't know how the ad was funded, but I must say that I am suspicious.