This year Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, will publish on Monday’s a column by Kristin Butler, Trinity '08, and Ed Rickards, Trinity '63 and Law '66.
Many of you remember all those outstanding columns Butler wrote for TC as an undergrad. Her work didn’t go unnoticed. She won a number of prestigious awards for her journalism.
Richards is a former TC editor whose deep love for Duke goes back half a century.
Butler and Rickards have reputations for digging out facts, asking tough questions and telling it like it is. Here’s some of what they said this morning about themselves and their column:
…The column Pro Bono Publico will appear each Monday with a joint byline. We promise to be fair and principled, probative and informative, analytical and critical. Our focus will be university policy and governance, and readers can count on us to hold administrators' feet to the fire. That starts right now.So how did President Richard (“Whatever they did is bad enough.”) Brodhead and others at Duke react?
Butler and Rickards tell us:
We regret that at the outset President Richard Brodhead has refused to grant us an interview. We explained in summertime e-mails we would be writing more about him and his administration than any other journalists, on campus or off.There’s much more to the column. I encourage you to read it all here.
John Burness, who recently retired as senior vice president for government affairs and public relations, replied that although Duke "has been more willing than other universities to engage with reporters," it is paradoxically not "in the University's interest" to speak with us, writers from the Duke community newspaper.
Burness's replacement, Michael Schoenfeld, quickly agreed-so quickly in fact that he did not bother to take office first nor exchange a single word with us.
As unsound as we often found Burness's judgment-remember a judge questioned, "Why would anybody be dumb enough to say what (Burness) did" about former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler-we are appalled by Schoenfeld's demonstrated lack of independent thought, not to mention his lack of respect for this newspaper.
Indeed, by signaling that he'll deal only with certain (read: ideologically friendly) Chronicle writers and not others, Schoenfeld has moved toward a brave new world on campus where access seems governed by how lavishly one praises Brodhead.
I left the following comment on the column thread:
I want to thank and congratulate Kristin Butler and Ed Rickards for their column today.Folks, I hope many of you go here to the column thread and leave your own welcome and thoughts there.
President Brodhead's refusal to grant them an interview is unfortunate, but understandable.
He was undoubtedly concerned they'd ask him questions such as:
1) Why didn't he meet with the lacrosse parents on Saturday, March 25, 2006?
2) Why, on March 29, did he apologize on behalf of the university to the "anonymous first caller" and "your friend" for racial remarks the caller (she was the second dancer, something the Durham Police had known since March 14) alleged were directed at her and "my friend," when Brodhead had no way of knowing if what was claimed in the call was true or bogus? (It turned most of it was bogus.)
3) At the time he made his unconditional, written apology, did Brodhead know "the first caller" was actually Kim Roberts, "the second dancer?" Why hasn't Brodhead ever answered that simple question?
4) Is Brodhead confident Duke didn't violate student FERPA privacy rights?
5) Why did Duke's President never speak out against those campus and community "activists" who rallied under "CASTRATE" and "GIVE THEM EQUAL MEASURE" banners, circulated on campus "Vigilante" posters targeting white students, and shouted threats at Duke students on and off campus; one particularly shocking example being the death threats black racists shouted at Reade Seligmann at the Durham County Courthouse on May 18, 2006?
Dick Brodhead doesn't want to answer those and other such questions.
Kristin and Ed, you've both been out in the wide, wide world long enough not to take Brodhead's refusal to meet with you personally.
If Brodhead was sure you were going to ask him about his "vision for Duke in 2050," and only that, he would’ve welcomed you into his office.
There might even have been a cookie tray out along with Cokes, Sprites and herbal teas, as there often are for interviews with those Brodhead views as "understanding" and "really mature given their ages."
Keep up the great work. Brodhead, his senior team, other Duke defendants and campus toadies may not appreciate it.
But those of us shocked, angered and embarrassed by Duke’s Brodhead-led response to the hoax and frame-up attempt do.
We also appreciate your efforts to lift the lid on Duke’s continuing cover-up of what really happened.
We're looking forward to your future columns.
John in Carolina