Readers Note: I’ve just sent the following electronic letter to John Burness, Duke University’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Government Relations.
I always hear back from Burness. I’ll let you know what I hear.
May 17, 2007
John Burness, Vice President for Student Affairs and Government Relations
Dear Vice President Burness:
I’m having trouble obtaining information concerning actions Duke may have taken in the interest of student safety last spring when the “Vigilante” poster containing face photos of 43 white male students on the lacrosse team was produced and circulated on campus.
I want to report that information to my readers who include Duke students, parents, faculty, alums, and a few trustees as well as others. I also want to place it on the net where journalists and others can access it.
More than six weeks ago I sent electronic letters to Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta and Duke Police Director Robert Dean. The letters contained questions regarding specific actions each administrator and his staffs may or may not have taken last March and April in regard to the “Vigilante” poster.
I told both Vice President Moneta and Director Dean I would publish their answers in full on the main page of JinC.
I’ve never heard word one from either administrator, despite sending second copies of links to my letters and leaving phone messages for them.
The questions are important. They are ones members of the Duke community want answers to as soon as they become aware of the “Vigilante” poster, and its contribution to the targeting and endangerment of Duke students and others.
Here, for example, is a brief excerpt from my letter to Vice President Moneta:
It’s my understanding you were the senior Duke administrator present at the lax parents’ meeting on Saturday, March 25, 2006; and that a parent request was made that the University remove from GoDuke.com the face photos of all the lacrosse players.Here is an excerpt from my letter to Director Dean:
Was such a parent request made? If it was, what did the University do in response?
If you or another administrator responded positively to the parent request, when were the photos removed from GoDuke.com?
While I’m a tech dummy, tech knowledgeable people say it’s a relatively simple matter to ID the computer used to pull from GoDuke.com the face photos of the 43 white lacrosse players which appear on the “Vigilante” poster.I’m sure we agree, Mr. Burness, that anyone who cares about student safety at Duke would want to know the answers to those questions and other equally important ones I’ve asked Vice President Moneta and Director Dean.
Has DUPD done that? If yes, what can you say publicly about what you learned? If not, can you say why not?
What has DUPD done to investigate the production and distribution on campus of a poster that targeted a particular group of students while heightening the risk for all?
Concerning the March 29 Take Back the Night rally on the Chapel steps, most participants spoke and acted in ways we would both affirm. But there were, as you know, a good number of “activists” there who engaged in actions described by one of the TBTN organizers, Geoffrey Lorenz, in an April 2 letter to the Raleigh News & Observer in which he said in part:
As one of the organizers of the March 29 Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and speak-out at Duke University, I want to clarify that we did not plan, nor do we endorse, the distribution of names and pictures of members of the Duke men's lacrosse team.
The distribution of the pictures, the targeting of the lacrosse team, and the violence implicit in the defacement of the pictures are nothing less than violations of the space that TBTN exists to create. The event is neither a protest of the kind we've witnessed recently, a forum for accusation nor a place to target and defame.
What was DUPD’s role with regard to TBTN?
Is there any way you can help me to get answers to the questions so I can pass those answers on to readers?
By their silences, Vice President Moneta and Director Dean are putting the University in a bad light.
The URLs in which you’ll find the letters follow:
This to Vice President Moneta:
This to Director Dean:
Thank you for your attention to my request. I look forward to your response.
John in Carolina