Friday, May 25, 2007

INNOCENT: Duke & 88’s disaster grows

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Since it appeared last April as a full-page ad in The Chronicle, Duke University’s faculty Group of 88’s inflammatory and exploitive “social disaster” statement has concerned and angered members of the Duke community and the broader public.

The 88’s statement has drawn criticism from students, parents, alums, and other faculty. Now we’re hearing some trustees are also critical of the group and its ad, although no trustee has so far spoken publicly.

Yesterday and today things got worse for Duke and the Group of 88.

Yesterday the Duke Conservative Union placed a powerful full-page ad in The Chronicle.

You can read the ad here at Durham-in-Wonderland. The DCU ad exposes some of the best known of the "88" faculty by quoting them. Following one after another, the quotes don't make a pretty sight. How can people say such things? Don't they realize what they're revealing about themselves?

The ad ends by inviting the 88 to follow AG Roy Cooper’s advice to those who owe apologies to the victims of the Hoax witch hunt and frame-up.

The ad does something else that deepens the 88 ad disaster for Duke and the 88. At the bottom of the ad, the DCU is clearly listed as the ad’s sponsor who also paid for it.

That will remind people that no sponsor was listed as placing the Group of 88’s disaster ad nor has there ever been any explanation of who paid for the ad and where the funds came from. Did the 88 chip in for the ad? Was the money taken from department funds? Or was grant money used?

Duke's President, Richard ("whatever they did was bad enough") Brodhead has evidenced no interest in finding out who placed and paid for the ad.

Today more trouble for Duke and the Group of 88.

And it’s the worst kind of trouble for Duke and the 88 ad sponsor.

It's trouble Duke and the 88 have made themselves. Excerpts from KC Johnson today:

… [The 88’s ad] did specifically assert that five Duke academic departments (Romance Studies; Psychology: Social and Health Sciences; Art, Art History, and Visual Studies; Classical Studies; and Asian & African Languages & Literature) as well as 10 academic programs formally endorsed the statement.

It is hard to overstate how unusual such an endorsement is. Academic departments rarely sign onto statements that do not directly deal with departmental concerns. That nearly 20 percent of a school’s arts and sciences departments would endorse a statement such as that produced by the Group of 88 is extraordinary.

These departmental (and program) endorsements gave the statement added heft—perhaps explaining why the statement’s principal author, Wahneema Lubiano, included the names of the relevant departments in the text.

How could it be, as occurred in each of the five departments above, that a majority of a department’s professors did not sign onto the ad individually, but then took the far more significant step of supporting a formal departmental endorsement of the statement?

Well, it turns out, they didn’t.

In some, and perhaps all, of the five departments, no vote to sign onto the ad ever occurred. There was no informal polling of department members, either. Some, and perhaps all, of the departments listed as signing onto the Group of 88’s statement did not, in fact, ever endorse the ad.
KC goes on to cite data, including statements from department members that support what he’s saying.

He follows with this: “At the Volokh Conspiracy, Northwestern law professor Jim Lindgren (who has served as an associate dean at two universities) explained the severity of this breach of academic protocol. KC then quotes Lindren:
Could it be that one or more of the approximately 15 departments or programs that supposedly endorsed the letter did not do so? Did the letter writers fabricate departmental or programmatic support that did not exist, either intentionally or out of confusion?

That is a truly frightening possibility, even if less likely to have happened than some of the other [possible explanations]. After the Group of 88’s letter was published with departments and programs at Duke presented as official signatories, the President or the administration would likely have talked to at least a few chairs to determine the circumstances of their departments’ signing on.

Is it possible that the President or another member of his administration had discovered that the authors of the Group of 88 were falsely claiming official Duke departmental endorsements that were fraudulent—and kept silent about it?
You can read KC's entire post here.

In the matters of who placed the inflammatory Group of 88 ad, who paid for it and with funds from what source, and why some departments were listed as signed on when they never were and who is responsible for that, President Brodhead is as alert and involved as Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers was during his departments framing of three innocent students.


Anonymous said...

I will give generous odds that the DCU will get backlash from profs and the administration.


Anonymous said...

Whoever made the original poster must be thinking about freshing up his/her resume.

The chickens are about to come home to roost. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.