Friday, February 13, 2009

Chronicle A Bit Critical of Duke’s Secrecy

Duke's President Brodhead’s never said why he refused to meet with the lacrosse parents on March 25, 2006. And The Chronicle's never asked why.

Brodhead, Duke's trustees, and almost all its faculty, including all but one or two of the Law School faculty, were publicly silent when racists outside and within the Durham County Courthouse shouted threats, including death threats, at then Duke student Reade Seligmann. TC never asked why.

For that matter, TC's never explained its own editorial silence when the racists attacked Seligmann.

TC has never asked Brodhead or BOT chair Bob Steel whether Duke did in fact secretly release FERPA-protected student records to now disbarred former Durham DA Mike Nifong.

Or whether, if it did that, Duke then engaged in a charade with Nifong to deceive the students, their parents and the court into believing Duke had not already released the records?

But perhaps TC will soon ask those questions and others that most members of the Duke community want answers to.

I say that because today TC’s editorial board addresses serious matters involving trustee and senior administrator's decision-making, particularly the secrecy that typically shrouds it.

Here’s some of what TC’s editorial board says - - -

Last weekend some current and former members of the Board of Trustees came to the University for a closed-door meeting about the recession and how the University can best respond to it in the future.

The public knows almost nothing specific about the meeting. Representatives-including Chair Robert Steel, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, and Executive Vice President Tallman Trask-acknowledged to The Chronicle that the meeting occurred and that its focus was the University's financial situation.

But as to who was there, what specifically was discussed, why the meeting was necessary and what the University's general strategy will be in the recession-mum's the word.

And although it is encouraging that the University appears to be acting in a proactive manner, it is disconcerting that the information coming from University administrators was so vague and that the meeting itself was seemingly secret. …

As the editorial progresses TC gets increasingly wobbly and closes with - - -

In the end, it is understandable that, in order to function effectively, a board of trustees at a private university will need to keep many matters secret. But there are some subjects-and this is one of them-about which a board of trustees should make every effort to inform the many people in the Duke community who are invested in the University and whose livelihood depends on it.

No one is demanding the minutes of last weekend's meeting: a coherent and public statement of strategy would do just fine.

The entire editorial’s here.


My comments:

Today the TC editorial board took a few small steps toward what let's hope is now its goal of questioning the excessive secrecy that’s characterized the Steel/Brodhead running of Duke since at least Spring 2006.

When Duke won’t explain its silence when an angry crowd at the edge of East Campus waved a CASTRATE banner and went after Duke students, it’s shamefully secretive.

We are now at a point such that when a person asks, “Do you think Brodhead and Steel OK’ed the release of that FERPA information?”, people can only shrug and reply: “We’ll just have to wait for discovery in those suits.”

But it shouldn’t literally take federal lawsuits to get an honest answer to that question and many others the Brodhead/Steel leadership team is covering up on.

Let’s hope TC's small steps today are soon followed by bigger ones.

Request to the TC editorial board: Please tell us why editor Chelsea Allison recused herself from today’s editorial.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update on TC. It would appear that some editorial Board members have found the courage to ask basic questions like the rest of the universe has been asking for many, many months. Perhaps, the TC Editorial Board members have finally decided that they don't like playing the mushroom roles Dickie Brodhead and Bobbie Steele have encouraged them to play. It is my hope that my university's most recent "secret" meeting also includsed conversations about how and when(soon I hope) to transition away from the Steele/Brodhead era to a new administrative and governance structure. One can only hope.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be a wet blanket but I think The Chronicle's hopeless as far as calling out Steel, Brodhead & Company goes.

The editors are too concerned with their grad school recommendations, not offending the left-dominated faculty and those all-important first jobs.

"Offend not the powers that be" is the edit board's motto.

Duke '96

Anonymous said...

The Chronicle's a campus joke.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure there are some high-school papers you can tackle next.

In fact, the kid down the street has got a little mimeographed paper about the block. I don't think he's tackled the Duke mess either. Little coward.

Anonymous said...

Duke '96 has nailed it. Whatever happened to journalistic integrity?

Anonymous said...

to 1:35 am

I agree, but what also happened to professorial integrity.

I am guessing here, but I would suspect that some professors would not give a glowing recommendation if their students journalistically "probed" to deep into certain areas. This isn't the real world, anymore, at Duke.