"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
The “news on the net” is that Duke President Richard H. Brodhead will be massaging Philadelphia area alums, parents and others this Tuesday evening, June 5.
For those who are justice seekers and plan to be at the event, I offer the following for any help it may give you in participating in the brief “Q&A with Dick” that is usually a part of such evenings.
I’ll assume the following: You’ll bring tape recorders. Some of you may even have contacted KC Johnson who often reproduces what Brodhead says, thereby aiding DU VP for Public Affairs and Government Relations John Burness in his task of spreading the word about what Brodhead is saying.
Now advice about questions:
For heavens sake, don’t ask “what if” questions: “If you had it to do over, would you …..?”
Brodhead loves those questions and you’ll learn nothing. You’ll get something like:
“Looking back, sure, I might do some things really, really differently. But you must remember that at the time, the facts kept changing.Also, avoid questions which, while very important, will allow Brodhead to avoid taking responsibility.
We’d meet in the morning and someone would tell me it was 10:30. A few hours later John Burness would call and say it was really 1 o’clock.
Things like that were happening every day. It was such a hard time for me.
But that’s all in the past. I’m now one of Nifong’s biggest critics and we must all look to the future.”
So while questions about the discredited Group of 88 statement, The Chronicle ad and the comments of some of the 88 members are ones we need to keep asking, at an after dinner Q&A, questions like:
Why haven’t you criticized at least some of what the Group of 88 have done, and why don’t we know who paid for the ad and why some departments were listed on it as supporting it when members of those departments insist they did not?are questions Brodhead will easily fob off with references to “our cherished traditions of academic freedom” and the “matter’s concerning departmental actions are within the Provost's area of responsibility.”
Keep your questions brief and focused on specific events about which there is no dispute. Highlight in your question Brodhead’s inaction in the face of the events and invite him to explain his inactions.
“President Brodhead, since Reade Seligmann was the victim of threats, including death threats, on May 18 outside and within the Durham Courthouse you’ve made no public comments condemning those who threatened Seligmann or offering your support to him and his family. Why haven’t you done that?”
“The NC State Bar is about to try DA Nifong on charges including scores of things he said and did starting in late March ’06 and continuing through December ’06 that slimed the lacrosse team and attempted to frame three Duke students. During all that time, you refused to say anything critical of Nifong. Why?”
“Many of us were proud last spring when the women’s lacrosse team publicly asserted David Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann’s innocence. But for doing that, they were viciously and maliciously attacked by many in media, including columnists at the New York Times and the Boston Globe. You said nothing in the women’s defense. Why not?”
“Why did you refuse to meet with the lacrosse parents last spring?”
“There was recently a full page ad in The Chronicle endorsed by 1,000 student who called on you to, in the words of the ad, ‘finally stand up for students.’ Have you responded to the students?”
“When the Raleigh News & Observer published a photo copy of the notorious “Vigilante” poster and thereby added to the danger the players were facing, you said nothing critical of the N&O. Why not?”
“When the “Vigilante” poster targeting white Duke students circulated on campus within sight of your office windows, you said nothing critical of those distributing the posters and targeting the students. Why not?”
“Many current and prospective parents, alums and others are very concerned by persistent reports that when the false charges were first made, Dean Wasiolek advised the lacrosse players not to tell their parents they were subjects of a police investigation. Did she tell them not to contact their parents?”
Folks, as you know that last question about Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek goes somewhat against the advice I gave above, but I couldn’t help putting it in there.
And I can’t help offering this last question which also doesn’t fit with my advice, but I’d love to hear it asked by someone who was able to deliver it the way a great pitcher delivers a curve that seems to hang out there forever, and then suddenly breaks across the plate:
”President Brodhead, you’ve had three years now as President, and you’ve gotten to know the campus and the students and faculty. You’ve met thousands of alumni at events such as this wonderful one tonight. And you’ve worked with leaders in Durham and lots more.Good luck to all the justice seekers who attend the Philly event.
So I was wondering, suppose for instance, say tomorrow or next week you were to resign. What advice would you give the trustees as to what to look for in your successor?”