Thursday, June 21, 2007

INNOCENT: Duke's "baggage" problems

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

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Chronicle columnist Kirsten Butler is delighted Nifong’s leaving the DA’s office. She’s glad Duke’s reached a settlement with David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmannn and their families. She also wants to see Duke come together.

But in response to President Richard Brodhead’s latest pronouncement that we all need to “move forward,” Butler calls attention to important matters that have people asking why Brodhead doesn’t deal with certain “baggage” before he demands once again that “the Duke community move forward.” Here’s some of what Butler says today:

Among other things, mystery still surrounds Brodhead's decision to appoint Chauncey Nartey, Trinity '07, to the Campus Culture Initiative and take him on tour for the "A Duke Conversation" series.

As we now know, Nartey sent former head lacrosse coach Mike Pressler an e-mail message asking "What if Janet Lynn were next" during the early days of the scandal, which Pressler (appropriately) interpreted as a threat against his daughter.

Yet when asked about the inexplicable decision to reward Nartey's behavior with student leadership positions, Brodhead offered no explanation.

Similarly, the same senior administrators who termed Pressler's "resignation" (the coach was forced to quit) "highly appropriate" last spring now laud Pressler's "excellent" coaching skills and thank him for doing "a great job building the Duke men's lacrosse program." No attempt has been made to reconcile these statements, nor to apologize for the coach's forced departure.

Consider also that because it is Duke's normal policy to keep the terms of financial settlements "private," we cannot know how much it cost the University to protect faculty members and administrators against legal action.

We don't know where that money is coming from or even whether the settlement itself is fair to Duke or its former students.

Moreover, it's hard to see how this administrative secrecy is compatible with Duke's mission as an educational community; such policies make it impossible for students, faculty and alumni to comment intelligently on University affairs.

If other world-class institutions routinely make this information public without injury (on the same day the Duke settlements were announced The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the University of Wisconsin at Madison paid $135,000 to settle a claim with a former administrator), Duke can surely do the same.

Administrators have yet to provide a compelling reason why they choose not to, or how their choices benefit anyone outside of the Allen Building. . . .

Will Duke … combat … and work actively to stop the Durham Police Department's systematic violation of students' rights? Or will it continue to invite more scandals?
There are many other important matters which Brodhead and Board Chair Robert Steel have refused to explain.

Why, for example, did Brodhead refuse to meet with the lacrosse parents last March 25 when they were on campus and their sons had just been ordered to submit to police DNA testing and photographing because they had been identified as suspects in a gang-rape investigation?

Why did Brodhead and Steel not meet with the parents for another 11 months?

Why has Duke failed to deny repeated reports Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek told the lacrosse players not to inform their parents they were suspects in a police investigation?

Why did Brodhead refuse to say anything critical of the “activists” on campus who within sight of his office windows distributed and posted on Duke buildings copies of the notorious “Vigilante” poster which targeted and endangered white male lacrosse players?

Why does anyone think Duke can “come together” and “move forward” before we have full, honest explanations for the matters Butler discusses in her column and the kind of questions I’ve just asked?

You can read Butler’s column here.


Anonymous said...

The Duke administration is very eager to "move forward" but until the Group of 88 issue an apology I think that is just wishful thinking. How can Duke even hope to move forward when this "888 lb. gorilla" remains in the middle of campus?

Anonymous said...

Everyone is not moving forward. There are 44 other families who have not been able to put this behind them.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I think KC's article today may be stealing a bit of Kirsten's thunder. Both are excellent articles.

No matter the eventual impact on Duke University, individuals have emerged for whom I have great respect. Sad that most are students. Students being taught, led by individuals with neither the judgment nor strength of character shown by Ms. Butler.

Anonymous said...


You have also failed to answer certain questions that have been posed to you, such as why do you label those who post comments critical of the LAX players trolls and delete their comments from your website?

humboldtblue said...


He's probably deleted your comments because you refuse to show the proper decorum. Take it from me, it works, particularly on this blog.

As for those who post negative comments about the LAX players, let's just say, Wasiolek, Lubiano, Thugniggaintellectual and the rest of the group of 88 Mensa society rely upon gross stereotypes, have engaged in the basest slander and in general, have nothing to offer other than "something happened," or "they're no angels."

How much you wanna bet I'm correct?

Anonymous said...

For Annonymous who absurdly suggests that "you have failed to answer certain questions"...
The issue is about people whose jobs and whose actions have made them responsible for the social disaster known as the Duke Rape Hoax. It is these people, from administrators and teachers at Duke to reporter and editors at the N&O to public officials who have the accountability to answer questions. It is people who enabled the hoax to continue. It is people who attempted to gain political advantage from the hoax or people who acted in cowardly self interest who must be accountable.
The conduct of men and women in positions of authority at Duke has been shameful and they are determined to maintain a wall a silence about their actions. Just as they falsely accused the laxers, the Dukie leadership is now carefully maintaining their wall of silence to avoid a dialog that might be critical.

Anonymous said...

6:52 -- Brilliant!

joan collins said...


Ms. Butler is a gifted writer. Regarding Brodhead's "baggage", I suggest Duke get itself some new luggage!

Anonymous said...

How ironic that those who sought to "break the wall of silence" now feel so threatened that they hide behind the wall and do so at the expense of the Duke University endowment funds. Get some scruples--try Wal Mart, that's about the only way the Duke shamed can get them. Broad-head and cronies and the 88 (guess they needed that many to have a cumulative IQ greater than Nifong)-------judgment day is coming for you too. Liefong got his. Yours is coming. Better keep looking over your shoulder.