Sunday, May 20, 2007

INNOCENT:A&S Faculty Dean Responded

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

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
This post, “INNOCENT: To Duke’s A&S Faculty Dean,” contains background regarding the public silence of, as far as I know, all Duke University Arts & Sciences faculty when their student, then Duke sophomore Reade Selgimann, was subjected to shouted physical threats, including death threats, on May 18, 2006 outside and within the Durham County Courthouse.

The post also contains an email I sent A&S Faculty Dean, George L. McLendon, asking him to place before the A&S faculty my request that the faculty: 1) make a statement condemning the threats made to Seligmann; and 2) express its regret to Seligmann and his family for the ordeal they endured.

I cited as precedent an Academic Council statement condemning three still unsolved cross burnings which occurred one evening in Durham almost exactly a year previous to the threats shouted at Seligmann.

A reader promptly commented that McLendon was not the right administrator to whom to make my request. The reader told me to check constitutions of various constituent organizations within Duke University.

Before I could do that I head back from Dean McLendon as follows:

I have forwarded your email to Paul Haagen,chair of the academic
council.(A commentator astutely notes that I have no special standing with this group).

I personally deplore and condemn any threats directed at Mr Seligmann,or at any other member of the Duke community,as a result of this tragically misguided prosecution and the events which surrounded it
I've sent McLendon the following email:
Dear Dean McLendon:

Thank you for passing on my email to outgoing Academic Council Chair Paul Haagen. I'll followup with him today.

I appreciate your including in your email your personal condemnation of those who threatened Reade Seligmann on May 18, 2006.

I'll post on your response later today, with a copy of your email included. I have no doubt Reade and his family will see it and appreciate your actions.

I hope other senior Duke administrators follow your example of publicly condemning the racists who threatened Seligmann. As far as I know , to date you are the only one who's done so.


John in Carolina
Later today I’ll post what I send Haagen.

In the rest of this post I want to respond to some comments readers made on the thread of the post with my email to McLendon. Reader comments are in italics; mine in plain. ---

A reader asked whether I "really expected an answer from McLendon” but also encouraged me to keep at it “because someone needs to join the issue and evidence the agenda.”

I know many times I won’t get an answer but as the reader points out, there are other reasons for sending emails such as the one I sent to McLandon. One very important one is that I hope by doing so I prompt others to write similar emails. One polite, fact-based email often doesn’t make much difference, but many such emails…… (you know the rest).

A reader said in part: “Virtually the entire non-student population at Duke has been quiet while a) a corrupt DA attempted to send [three innocent students] to jail; and b) a segment of the University’s faculty publicly expressed their absolute disdain for the very students they teach. The hundreds of other teachers at Duke let the Gang of 88 speak for the [Duke]. … It’s not that they [‘the 88”] see anything to apologize for – they simply are not sorry."

Good points all except at least a few of "the 88" now say they would not sign the "social disaster" statement again.

A reader asks: “Why restrict it to the death threats against Reade Seligmann? What about the "Castrate!!" sign (and the other outrages)in front of David Evans' house?”

Reader, I agree with you which is why I’ve posted at least 30 times concerning the “Castrate” banner. Your comment is a good reminder I need to get back to N&O exec news editor Melanie Sill and ask her why she hasn’t responded to an email I sent her asking why last March and April the N&O withheld the news of the “Castrate” banner.

Also, Reader, I hope you visit JinC often and comment often.