Friday, June 08, 2007

INNOCENT: Philly Dukies Net Brodhead

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

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
For months Duke’s President, Richard (“The facts kept changing”) Brodhead, has been traveling around the country hosting dinner events at which he puts forward Duke’s “best face” in the form of selected faculty and students, and then engages in a brief Q&A.

The last of the currently scheduled dinners was held Tuesday, June 5, in Philadelphia. Citizen journalists Buddy and Lazierthanmost were there and reported on the event at I’m relying on their reporting for the following commentary.

It appears the event was a disaster for Brodhead, “Dick’s team,” and those trustees who’ve worked so hard to cover up the University’s response to Crystal Mangum’s wildly improbable hoax.

Brodhead was ensnared by simple, fact-based questions concerning the witch hunt targeting the Duke lacrosse team, and the attempted frame-up of three of its members.

Asked, for example, why he didn’t meet with the lacrosse parents on campus the weekend of March 25 when the story “broke,” Brodhead said “events were moving fast.”

The report called that “a non-answer.”

Yes, it was “a non-answer,” but it was a very revealing one.

Put in the best light possible, Brodhead was saying he had other, higher priorities than meeting with a group of Duke parents whose sons had just been ordered by a court to submit to police DNA testing and photographing as part of an investigation involving multiple felonies, including gang-rape.

Brodhead’s “non-answer” answer surely didn’t go over very well with those in attendance, since when the question was asked, it was greeted with applause.

There was also applause in response to other questions suggesting skepticism or outright disagreement with Brodhead and Duke’s response to the Hoax. No wonder Brodhead appeared uncomfortable when answering such questions.

I would guess for Brodhead and his supporters the worst part of the evening had to be when a 1970s-era lacrosse alum got up to speak. As reported:

A 1970s-era lacrosse alum noted that every e-mail from [Board of Trustees Chair Robert] Steel says Duke has handled this well and its time to move on. (The Duke theme is “time to move on-nothing to see here, folks.”) This gentleman basically said progress can't be made until the issues of last year are dealt with. He also received applause as well.
Steel, Brodhead & Co. have been working for the last year to convince everyone there’s nothing to see anywhere except way up yonder there in the future out past where the sun sets.

And here at the last of a series of dinners which were planned for Brodhead to “spread a little sunshine” and then send alums and others toddling off contentedly into the night, an alum tells him he doesn’t buy Steel’s email messages.

And what happens then? The audience responds with applause.

When Steel, Brodhead and others planned the dinner series, did they ever imagine it would end that way? And what is that ending telling them?

The citizen journalists said:
Several individuals came over to talk with those of us who rained on Brodhead's parade. The common theme was that Brodhead did not answer the questions. So we maybe made some progress.
You bet you made progress, Buddy and Lazierthanmost. And not just by helping net Brodhead in questions he didn’t want to answer and letting everyone at the event see that.

You did something else that was very, very important. By writing your reports and sending them on to Liestoppers, you made the evening “a net event.”

Look at just a few of the important things that are happening because your reporting is out on the net.

1) Thousands who weren’t at the dinner now know something about it.

2) Bloggers like KC Johnson and myself have added to your impact by posting based on your reporting

3) There are people who will read your reports and send links to others. Those others will likely include some trustees.

I’m glad some trustees will now have your reports to consider along with the reports they’ll receive from Steel, Brodhead and various members of “Dick’s team” who were at the dinner.

I plan to use your report in another post Sunday.

Thanks for covering the event. You performed a very important service for people following the Hoax.

And for Duke as well.


Anonymous said...

I think you should also be thanked for covering the Hoax and caring about Duke. Good luck.

Jack said...

This is all well and good, but, at the end of the day, it is a private matter, for the Duke insiders to deal with. All the blogs and postings, the letters and rants to the Chronicle, the forums with KC and Stuart and all the hand wringing in the world are NOT going to change a thing a Duke. The Board of Trustees is a very closed system of self serving re-generation. With Mrs. Bill Gates and her “save the great unwashed” attitude, courtesy of Microsoft’s billions, along with others of like mind, what is more surprising: that Duke is so philosophically aligned at the very top? Or that these social engineers have been in place so long, they are so entrenched, that this is the things are, period? As I said recently on DIW, while the darling innocents played on the lawns, the alumni cheered Coach K and sipped chardonnay at posh fund raisers, some nasty people have been at work. Your dear old alma mater has been hijacked!

Anonymous said...

Dear old alma mater is looking like some grotesque "Mommy Dearest."

Anonymous said...

All the blogs...are not going to change a thing at Duke, Jack says. Guess we should all give up and go away. What a defeatist attitude!

Jack said...

To anonymous @ 8:26 pm

Ok, so exactly what is it you intend to actually do about the situation at Duke? That is, other than to lament, anonymously, on some chat board? Do you attend Duke? Are you an Alum, a major benefactor? Perhaps a faculty member, a part of the silent minority? By characterizing my attitude as defeatist, you imply that the several dozen posters here, on Durham in Wonderland, and other boards, can have an impact on some of the objectionable traits that have been revealed in Duke since this incident arose. I, for one, believe they will not. You apparently disagree, but I am unable to see how this situation is within your grasp to change. Duke University is a private entity, free to set it’s own admission standards, hire the instructors they wish, approve courses and curricula of Duke’s own choosing. The endowment money goes to research projects, minority scholarships and building projects that the Board of Trustees deems appropriate, and that will further the interests and long terms goals of the university, as defined by Duke. Not you, not the North Carolina legislature, not KC Johnson, or John in Carolina or David Evans’ mother. See how responsive the school’s officials have been so far? As I said, a lot of posting by a relatively few individuals, without any apparent connection to, or influence on, Duke university will have zero impact.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Jack - I'm none of the people you name as being able to affect change.

But I've explained how bad the LAX situation was to at least 20 people that were 'sorta' following it.

Duke's brand has been hurt, and hurt badly. That will eventually show up in board and alumni and student applications.

I know three alumns (non-LAX, non-Jock, non-Durhamites) who have pulled their annual contributions. None of them are big donors, but together that was probably a grand or so this year. And once they stop, getting them to re-start is almost impossible. What is the lifetime cost of the LAX hoax on Duke's Endowment?

It'll add up. Change will come.

And even if it doesn't, well, that doesn't mean it's not worth doing.


Anonymous said...

AC has correctly analyzed the situation. Never give up.