In today’s Chronicle, Lee Hamel (Duke ’62), a former federal prosecutor who specializes in white-collar crime litigation calls for an independent review of what is now widely seen as Duke’s bungled response to the lies of Crystal Mangum, Mike Nifong and DPD.
Here, IMO, are the money grafs from Hamel’s column, followed by some commentary:
How does this great University deal with similar problems that may occur in the future? President Brodhead has proposed hosting a national conference of educators, lawyers and student affairs leaders "to discuss best practices in this field."When Hamel says “such policy should not be based on an introspective study by those who participated in the affair or a "best practices" national symposium,” he’s referring to plans President Brodhead’s announced September 29 to applause from trustees and senior administrators. This from Brodhead’s statement that day (scroll down):
This endeavor may be helpful to develop "best practices" for universities in general, but it will not get to the heart of the matter-Duke needs a clear factual assessment and recommendation to guide the administration and Trustees in the future. While policy must ultimately come from the Trustees, such policy should not be based on an introspective study by those who participated in the affair or a "best practices" national symposium.
If the Trustees seek an unbiased filter through which to examine the events to which they were a party, they should appoint an independent commission to study the case.
The root cause of the evil resulting in the lacrosse athletes' indictments was a lying alleged victim and a corrupt district attorney-for which Duke's leadership cannot be blamed.
But the administration's reaction to the allegations denied the lacrosse athletes their right to fair treatment by the University, whose power exercised over them and over the lacrosse team's coach and season appeared judgmental-words of presumed innocence notwithstanding. Exacerbating this conduct was the administration's admitted failure to distance the University from the ad signed by 88 faculty members, which, most charitably put, prejudged the athletes' guilt. […]
We should support an independent review of the judgments of the administration and Trustees in the Lacrosse Affair. It is highly likely such a review will provide insights and proposals that would never occur to those who were involved. Hopefully a policy will emerge that will serve the University's interests as well as the presumption of innocence due its students in word and deed.
My colleagues in the Duke administration are going over all our procedures to see what we can learn from our experience. But these are complex questions, and they aren’t ones Duke can or should hope to solve on its own. To work through these difficulties and see that their lessons are learned not only here but around the country, we will be hosting a national conference of educators, lawyers and student affairs leaders to discuss best practices in this important field,What Brodhead’s promising amounts to a fox telling a farmer he and his senior fox colleagues will examine all the farmer’s “procedures to see what we can learn” about why his chickens keep disappearing.
The administrators and trustees who developed and implemented Duke’s response to the Hoax shouldn’t be the ones to assess their own bungled response. Instead, they should fully and publicly explain what they did and didn’t do during the Hoax.
A year and a half after the “CASTRATE” banner crowd shouted threats at white Duke students and “activists” on campus circulated “Vigilante” posters targeting those same students, we still have no explanation from President Brodhead or BOT Chair Steel for their silence when the students were threatened and endangered.
John Burness and the faculty Group of 88 may not need explanations for Brodhead’s and Steel’s silences in the face of dangers to students created by the “CASTRATE” and “Vigilante” crowds and other equally shocking failures, but most of us in Duke community and others do. What’s more, we’re entitled to explanations.
A comprehensive, independent study of Duke’s response to the Hoax is clearly needed.
Message to Lee Hamel: I hope your column starts a robust discussion among Dukies and others concerning an independent commission’s make-up and charge.
Thanks for your column.
Hamel's entire column is here.
JinC Readers, what do you think?