Erin O’Connor in Critical Mass (Feb. ’08) -
There's something embarrassing--and vaguely pornographic--in the spectacle of a leader who is not at all up to leadership.
This is particularly true in higher ed, where the idealism of the enterprise tends to get a bit tarnished when those charged with ensuring it just can't manage to do so.
Duke president Richard Brodhead has been living in a hell of his own making ever since the lacrosse scandal revealed his total incapacity to uphold--or even really grasp--foundational principles such as fairness, due process, and Doing the Right Thing.
Brodhead pandered and cowered and skulked his way through the extended tag-team beating administered to the falsely accused lacrosse team by the Durham D.A.'s office, the national media, and the Duke faculty, and wound up shaming himself and his university in ways that can never be undone. (This is all shorthand, I know, and if you are unclear where my statements come from, do read KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor's Until Proven Innocent).
The never-to-be-undoneness of the policy of procedural and political expediency Brodhead adopted during the long, damaging months of the lacrosse scandal were most recently on display during Duke's Sex Workers Art Show. Jay Schalin has the details:
You would think Duke University might be a little cautious about paying strippers to perform on campus. After all, there was that little incident that happened about two years ago -- something to do with a couple of strippers and some lacrosse players.After listing Duke organizations generously supported by alumni and benefiting from nonprofit tax breaks, O'Connor provides descriptions of the Brodhead administration’s approved sexcapade show for students.
But inviting strippers to perform does not appear to be a problem as long as the intent is not to titillate men, but to shock a mixed audience with vulgarity and disparage mainstream American values.
In the latter case, the university is quite willing to pay, despite a regulation reintroduced into [Duke’s] Bulletin of Information and Regulations after the lacrosse case that explicitly states "strippers may not be invited or paid to perform at events sponsored by individual students, residential living groups, or cohesive units."
At least, it was willing on Sunday night, when a variety of university organizations paid for a performance of the Sex Workers Art Show at the campus' Reynolds Theater.
The show was sponsored by the following official university departments, centers and student organizations: the Duke Women's Center, …
Here are some of them::
A transvestite, naked except for some strategically placed tape, with the words "F___ Bush" painted on his chest, kneeled on all fours and lit a sparkler protruding out of his rectum with "America the Beautiful" playing.Folks, if you know what Duke's now like under Brodhead-Steel, you’re not surprised.
--A bare-breasted stripper sang a lewd song about Saint Bridget of Ireland, with lyrics mocking the act of ascension as she climbed to the top of a stripper's pole.
--A stripper, in the guise of a U.S. flag-draped Lady Justice, emptied coins out of her scales, pulled dollar bills out of her clothes as she removed them, and yanked a string of dollar bills out of her posterior as the sound system played Dolly Parton's version of "God Bless the U.S.A."
She ended her act by saluting and holding up her middle finger to the crowd. The announcer referred to it as her "Infamous Patriot Act." Her most private area was kept covered by a small American flag.
And if you’re contributing to Duke because you’re “ooh la la” for that kind of "entertainment" and/or you just like Brodhead, Steel, Nifong, the trustees, "Dick's senior team," and their many faculty enablers, that’s your right.
And don’t feel embarrassed about why you're contributing to Duke under Brodhead-Steel; most Duke trustees are OK with it, too. So is The Chronicle's editorial board and the trustees-in-waiting who've been approved by the Allen Building to "lead" the Duke Alumni Association.
O’Connor closes with:
[I] wouldn't have wanted to spend my own Sunday night attending a show like this. But I don't care if others do.O'Connor's entire post's here.
The issue has to do with the double standards at work at Duke, both in allocation of funds and in application of policy.
The "no strippers" rule was bound to run into a wrinkle like this one--and that shows the stupidity of the rule. But even dumber is the Duke administration's clear expectation that it can enforce this rule selectively ... which is rather the sort of logic that got the university so embroiled in the lacrosse scandal in the first place.
Clarity of policy and consistency of application are the first rules in institutional fairness. Duke didn't get that when the non-rape case first unfolded--and it still doesn't.
A big hat tip goes to Hershal Parker commenting on 5/04/09 @ 6:18 PM EST at this Chronicle thread for linking to O'Conner's post.