"... 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.There are many other important matters which Brodhead and Board Chair Robert Steel have refused to explain.
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?
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.