Monday, June 04, 2007


"... 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.

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.”
Also, avoid questions which, while very important, will allow Brodhead to avoid taking responsibility.

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.

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?”
Good luck to all the justice seekers who attend the Philly event.


Anonymous said...

Thanks JinC. If you don't mind, I'll take these questions with me and see if I can get one of them in.


Anonymous said...

It would take quite a "crab walk" to side step these questions. I would love to see him squirm as he tried. Excellent work, as always.

Anonymous said...

John - You are a riot - For heavens sake, no what if questions.

Anonymous said...


I have a question for you. If there are 12,000 students at Duke, and if every aspect of this case is as black and white as you claim, then why did only 1,000 students sign the petition?

Anonymous said...

The trolls are out.

Anonymous said...

I think there are only about 6,000 undergraduates, and the petition was being distributed by undergraduates.

Fear could be a factor in not signing, just as many faculty members did not speak out against what they felt was an injustice.

Students might have to take classes with members of the Gang of 88, many who showed no concern about verbally attacking students and at least one of whom committed grade retaliation against a lacrosse player. Students might have to deal with administrators such as the newly appointed dean of social sciences, feminist Sally Deutsch, a signer of the listening statement and the clarifing statement.

I haven't sensed that JinC sees this case as black and white. He sees many questions that need answers and is seeking those answers from people involved in the case.

The NC NAACP and New Black Panthers and some students at NCCU, and some Duke faculty members such as Houston Baker and Grant Farred saw this case as black and white, in another sense.

Anonymous said...

Bonehead is a disgrace ...and I love the last question :-)

Anonymous said...

Tere are about 2500 sophmores,juniors,and seniors in residence at Duke at any one time .Of the total of5500 to 6000 undergrads about 1500 are away (abroad,etc) and 1600 are freshmen on East campus and generaly not involved in such matters.Of the pool of realistic participants over 60% ! siugned on.

Cindy said...

Anonymous @9:32

You can slice the numbers any way you like, although in your case I believe the numbers are being "spun". Out of an undergraduate student body of over 6,000, plus another 2,000 or so grad students, add to that the Class of 2006, some 1,000 signatures is pathetic. Is is, however, consistent with the virtually non-existent response from the Duke faculty, the non-Gang of 88, but, then, they really are in silent agreement with the radicals.

Jack said...

The poster following cindy @9:32 am expressed similar skepticism regarding the student petition stats, albeit in a much more harsh tone. Nonetheless, it was not, in my opinion, offensive, and should not have been deleted.

JWM said...

Dear Jack @ 2:19,

The comment you refer to would not in all circumstances be deleted. But in this case it was part of a string from a troll who esculated the comments to factual error filled ad hominem levels.

If you look further up the thread you'll see a comment: "The trolls are actice."

I delete trolls. They get in the way of good reader commentary.

Robust disagreement is welcome.

If you keep visiting you'll see two instances where on the main page I'm going to have stand alone posts acknowleding errors of mine that readers called to my attention.

But readers who do that, to whom I'm grateful, are very different from trolls.

I hope that helps and if, as your comment suggests, you're a reasonalbe person, I hope you keep visiting and commenting here.

If you're not satified with what I do you know the wonderful thing about blogs is that there are millions of them.

It's your call.



Anonymous said...

Man, they are giving you what for at the Chronicle Message Board. You have obviously hit a nerve or two in the "Duke Community" or some part of it.

I find you rather subdued compared to some things I've read.