Monday, May 29, 2006

Press Release No. 1

Friends of Duke University
Date: July 19, 2006
Subject: Publication of open letter in the Duke Chronicle

Our Group

The Friends of Duke University consists of alumni, parents and friends of Duke who are deeply concerned about the University’s response to the lacrosse controversy. We want to ensure fair and equitable treatment for both the University and the lacrosse team in every public forum and feel that the University itself has not done enough to pursue it.

For the past few weeks, we have been speaking out on our own by challenging the numerous falsehoods encountered in the media and elsewhere and by disseminating accurate information about Duke and the lacrosse case. Our website: http://friendsofdukeuniversity.blogspot.com has been a hub of such activity. Although we have been happy to take a leadership role in speaking out on behalf of Duke, we have done so with the recognition that our efforts have largely gone toward filling a vacuum left by Duke’s own leadership. We believe Duke University needs to stand up for itself and for its students.

Our Letter

Today, we are pleased to announce that we have published an open letter to the President and Board of Trustees of Duke in the University’s newspaper, The Chronicle. The open letter asks Duke to do four things: (i) speak up for its students; (ii) be fair to the lacrosse team and encourage others to do so as well; (iii) speak up for Duke; and (iv) accept the challenges presented by the lacrosse controversy.

Our Goals

Our purpose in publishing the open letter is not to confront or embarrass, or to turn our frustration inward. Instead, our purpose is to motivate, encourage and offer support. We appreciate the efforts of President Brodhead and the rest of the university administration so far. It is our hope that, by demonstrating our support, they will feel confident enough to respond more proactively and less reactively.

We are in no way apologists for the acknowledged inappropriate conduct of the lacrosse team. We want reform and we believe that everyone in the Duke community, including the team members themselves, do at this point as well. However, any reform has to recognize that many of the same problems identified with the team exist within the larger Duke community and are not confined to any one group. Precisely how Duke chooses to confront the problems brought to light by the lacrosse controversy will say more about the University’s values than its mere decision to condemn certain behavior.

Many critics on campus have used the lacrosse team’s troubles as an opportunity to call attention to issues of concern to them. We express no opinion as to those particular issues nor wish to pick fights with these critics. We simply ask that these issues be evaluated on their own merits and not be advanced through the exploitation of other’s misfortunes.

We believe that people outside of campus should not be the only ones speaking out about the gross injustice and corrupted process to which Colin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans have been subject. Duke leaders should squarely condemn the unethical, unprofessional and immoral abuse of legal process by District Attorney Mike Nifong and others associated with him. Specifically, this conduct includes: (i) prejudicial and false extrajudicial comments; (ii) denial of due process through a suggestive lineup procedure; (iii) improper contact with persons represented by counsel; and (iv) refusal to examine exculpatory evidence. Duke itself must do everything it can to ensure that its students are protected from unfair and unjust treatment during their time at the University. We understand that Duke does not and should not have any direct influence on matters pending before the criminal justice system. We understand if Duke is not able to express an opinion about the ultimate outcome of these matters either. However, Duke does have the power of moral suasion at its disposal and must use it.

Duke University inspires passionate loyalty not only to a school, but to a set of principles and values. Our group essentially coalesced from like minded people associated with Duke who heard each other speaking out and decided to do so together. We are not the only such group. There is a reason for this loyalty and we want everyone who does not know it to find out and for everyone who does know it to help us. We will continue to speak up for Duke and its students and hope that, with our encouragement and support, the administration will as well.



Open Letter to President Richard Brodhead and the Duke University Board of Trustees

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We address you as members of the Duke family, brokenhearted at the unfair treatment and portrayal of the Men’s Lacrosse Team—and by Duke University’s acquiescence in this treatment. We believe Duke cowered in the face of media pressure engineered by the unethical and possibly illegal conduct of the Durham County District Attorney’s Office. When these allegations first made national headlines, the lacrosse team captains told you and the Duke community that they were “totally and transparently false.” All publicly released case documents confirm this stance. And according to reports from reliable members of the media, including Dan Abrams ’88, all evidence in the prosecution’s discovery file supports the team’s unwavering position: no sexual assault occurred. Yet Duke has remained hesitant in its support. In the process, it has sacrificed its own students and values.

We believe that Duke needs to repair the damage caused by the actions described above. Accordingly, we respectfully ask that you consider the recommendations below as official acts of the University.

Speak up for your students

We are sure that everyone, at least at Duke, can agree that the accused Duke students deserve justice through a fair and regular process. Right now, they are not getting it. Not by a longshot.

We believe that the Duke administration has a positive obligation to ensure that Duke students are not singled out for unjust treatment by local authorities. Would a parent stand by while their child was abused? Not even say anything? We think not. Yet, that is precisely what Duke has done in this case.

We fear that the administration’s passive response to the district attorney’s behavior will lead future students to think twice before attending Duke. Therefore, we urge a public statement that Duke expects fair administration of criminal justice. All in Durham should be appalled by the following conduct by District Attorney Mike Nifong:

• Made Prejudicial and False Extrajudicial Comments. Rules 3.6 and 3.8(f) of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit attorneys from making extrajudicial statements likely to prejudice a pending case. But Mr. Nifong: (1) materially misrepresented the facts by referring to evidence that did not exist; (2) called the accused “hooligans” and attested to their guilt; and (3) invited the inference of guilt from the exercise of the their civil right to representation by counsel. Each of these arguments, if made in court, would be sanctionable and grounds for mistrial.

• Denial of due process through a suggestive identification procedure. In order to generate names for his indictments, Mr. Nifong ordered an identification consisting of only photos of lacrosse players, violating guidelines set down by North Carolina’s Actual Innocence Commission. In further violation of these standards, the alleged victim was told that the photographs were of people who attended the party. As one noted criminal law scholar has pointed out, this procedure “strongly suggests that the purpose of the identification process was to give the alleged victim an opportunity to pick three members of the lacrosse team who could be charged. Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.”

• Improper contact with persons represented by counsel. Mr. Nifong has been quick to claim credit for conducting the police investigation. On April 14, police officers went into Duke dormitories to question Duke students who were known to be represented by counsel. This action violated Rule 4.2 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.

• Refusal to examine exculpatory evidence. Rule 3.8 of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct forbids prosecutors from intentionally avoiding “pursuit of evidence merely because he or she believes it will damage the prosecutor’s case or aid the accused.” On multiple occasions, defense attorneys offered to provide Mr. Nifong with exculpatory evidence strongly suggesting innocence. Mr. Nifong refused to accept or even look at this evidence.

Nicholas Kristof recently observed, “As more facts come out about the Duke lacrosse scandal, it should prompt some deep reflection.” The New York Times columnist compared Nifong’s behavior to the Scottsboro Boys prosecution, an event commonly held up as the standard of a prejudice-based miscarriage of justice.

While the university can express no opinion about the ultimate outcome of pending legal matters, we urge Duke to use all its influence and moral suasion to ensure that these three Duke students receive justice through a fair process. We also call upon Duke to formally demand that Mr. Nifong immediately correct, to the extent now possible, the grave errors that he has committed to date.

Be fair to the lacrosse team and encourage others to do so as well

At this point, no fair-minded person could any longer believe that a rape occurred. However, we are in no way apologists for the acknowledged conduct of the team. But necessary reforms must recognize that many of the team’s problems exist within the larger Duke community. Therefore, any specific measures taken against the lacrosse team must be consistent with Kantian ethics, including a commitment to proportionate justice and treating the team as the end, not as the means.

So far, the university’s treatment of the team has been reactive rather than proactive. Only after the season was cancelled and Coach Mike Pressler fired did the university appoint a committee to investigate the team’s conduct. This committee, chaired by Professor of Law James Coleman, reported on “a cohesive, hard working, disciplined, and respectful athletic team” whose members exhibited no evidence of racism or sexism. While detailing the team’s faults, all related to excessive drinking, the committee found much to be proud of as well. It concluded, “Between 2001 and 2005, 146 members of the lacrosse team made the Academic Honor Roll, twice as many as the next ACC lacrosse team. The lacrosse team's academic performance generally is one of the best among all Duke athletic teams.” The Coleman Report was the most thorough, critical, and unsentimental accounting of the team and its conduct. In announcing its decision to reinstate the team, the university has done little, if anything, to call attention to the larger, more positive, context the committee found. A resolution to look at oneself, warts and all, should not omit the “all.” As a result, Duke has missed an opportunity to show its true values. If we are not fair to ourselves, no one else will be.

Psychologists tell us that dysfunctional families often single out one member whose problems, real or supposed, become a source of unity for the rest, leaving the underlying sources of dysfunction unaddressed. Many critics on campus have used the lacrosse team’s troubles as an opportunity to call attention to matters of concern to them. We do not wish to pick fights with these critics. We simply ask that their concerns be evaluated on their own merits, rather than by exploiting others’ misfortunes. Since the lacrosse team’s shortcomings are not confined to any one group on campus, we should confront them without stigmatizing any one group. Only then can our family realize the growth that all of us seek.

As for those who were quick to prejudge the accused, particularly the group of 88 professors who signed an earlier call to action, we look upon them not with malice. Instead, we ask that they now count themselves among those victimized by this spring’s false accusations. We hope that all will realize now that our enemies are not each other, but those who would profit from the unfair denigration of our university and its members.

Speak up for Duke

Duke University is an exceptional school with an exceptional record. Recent events provide an appropriate occasion to consider the things we need to do better. However, this soul searching should be designed to make a great university even greater, rather than an attempt to scapegoat certain of our members.

The campus has suffered through hack journalism that crams events into preexisting templates and exploits preexisting prejudices to create artificial controversies. The result has been portrayals of both Duke and Durham that are filled with inaccuracies. We feel that the university has quietly acquiesced in these false characterizations, rather than actively asserting the truth.

Duke students conform to none of the media stereotypes of racial or economic exclusivity. They are 40% minorities, including 12% African American. Forty percent receive financial aid, with the average annual grant totaling $20,000. Duke students are elite only in the quality of their character and achievements.

Far from aloof, Duke is a responsible, generous, and engaged citizen of Durham. Here are just a few of the many ways Duke contributes to the Durham community:

• The Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership has raised $10 million over the last ten years to improve neighborhoods in Durham.

• In fiscal year 2005, Duke University Health Systems spent $28.8 million on charity medical care for low income patients and provided $6.5 million in in-kind service contributions to local health organizations.

• Duke pledged $925,000 to provide scholarships for Durham public school teachers to attend Duke's master of arts in teaching degree program.

• Duke spent $3.7 million to convert off-campus houses rented by students into single-family homes in order to improve relations with local residents.

• The Duke Community Service Center facilitates all manner of good works in Durham by over 30 student run organizations.

Accept the challenges presented by this crisis

Adopting the statements and positions outlined above will help restore Duke’s deserved reputation for greatness tempered by fairness. In that some will react angrily to these statements, their making will require your courage. However, no institution or person can long be considered great if lacking in courage.

One of our university’s finest moments occurred 100 years ago during the Bassett Affair. When a member of the university community unfairly came under public attack, the President and Board of Trustees refused to cave into momentary expediency. Instead, Duke’s leaders spoke out for what was right. In the end, rather than suffer for it, Duke’s reputation was greatly enhanced by the courage of the President and Board. Can we now say the same about the Lacrosse Affair?

We appreciate your efforts in managing this difficult and unusual crisis. We ultimately write not to criticize, but to offer our support. We are not afraid to speak out, and will continue to do so. We encourage you to do the same. We want you to know that you have friends behind you, united in our common desire to ensure that all Duke students receive fair treatment, from both the University and local authorities.

Friends of Duke University
Website: http://friendsofdukeuniversity.blogspot.com
E-mail: friendsofdukeuniversity@yahoo.com

40 Comments:

At 10:18 AM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent letter. Thank you so much for a providing such a strong voice to all that we are feeling.
Sincerely, a Duke Alum

 
At 10:45 AM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent letter, but it suffers from anonymity, a problem that also affects this site in general.

It would have more impact as a petition signed by individuals who are willing to take a stand publicly.

Duke Parent

 
At 11:00 AM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above: Thank you for the comment, your point is well taken. Please look at this as the beginning of a dialog amongst the Duke community. It may well be that we are heading in that direction (signed petitions, etc., or other options). Let us first hear some views and then decide how best to advance our cause.

Moderator

 
At 11:35 AM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for putting into words what so many of us feel but cannot say. As a two-time Duke graduate I feel strongly that Mr. Nifong has crucified both students and the University I love, and for dubious and inappropriate reasons. it is nice to see someone stand up for both!

 
At 12:36 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good letter. Hopefully the truth will prevail. Another Duke mom.

 
At 1:05 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the legal bills for the lacrosse players are large and will only grow larger. What efforts are being taken to help support the affected players and parents?

 
At 1:43 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re above: Yes, the “legal costs” is a major concern. This is something that we could actually help with, in a modest way. Please see the following page for the arrangements that have been made by the Lacrosse families to deal with this issue.

Duke Lacrosse Defense Fund

Moderator

 
At 3:05 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous january said...

I'm a Duke alum.

I am wearing my Duke Lacrosse 2006 bracelet as I type this and will be contributing to the defense fund.

I'll sign any petition you care to circulate

 
At 3:16 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous wumhenry said...

I'd like to think that the faculty, particularly the law-school faculty, will speak out publicly against unfair and unethical behavior by the prosecutor in this case. Is anyone aware of any such effort by any member of the Duke faculty aside from Mr. Coleman? If so, I'd love to have a cite to a published comment.

BTW, there's a good on-going discussion of the case in the TalkLeft blog (with modest contributions from yrs truly).
-wumhenry, Class of '68

 
At 3:30 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re above: Thanks for the tip, I will visit TalkLeft. I find the discussions on that board to be extremely useful in insightful.

 
At 3:39 PM, July 19, 2006, Blogger Dan Irving said...

Heck - I'm not even a Duke alum and I'll sign the petition. The fact that any part of my Durham Co. Tax dollars contribute to Mr. Nifong's salary is anathema to me.

 
At 4:01 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re other Duke Professors speaking out: We identified one other professor to have spoken out on the Lacrosse case. Here is a link to his op-ed in Herald Sun. He had written an earlier piece but that one expired and is no longer available. It is too bad that Herald Sun does not keep their op-eds permanently on their site.

Let's have a prompt lacrosse trial by Robinson O. Everett

Published in Herald Sun on June 25, 2006

 
At 4:10 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Duke09Parent said...

Excellent letter. I would have added that the cultural issues highlighted by the incident exist in the U.S. at large and, while not missing from Duke, are better there than in society at large or at many other top universities.

 
At 4:11 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Larry Wendling said...

This is a great letter. As a parent of a former Duke lacrosse player, I hope the university does the right thing and starts to support the fair justice concept. Mr. Brodhead and the Group of 88 need to be as vocal about that matter as they were about the initial allegations.

 
At 6:11 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WRAL now reporting on the letter....

As Lacrosse Case Unfolded, Duke 'Cowered,' Group Says
http://www.wral.com/news/9542958/detail.html

A spokesman for Duke University did not comment Wednesday afternoon, but said that a formal response to the open letter could be released later in the day.

Plus, they have how the letter looks in the Chronicle---

http://www.wral.com/download/2006/0719/9542968.pdf

 
At 6:22 PM, July 19, 2006, Blogger Duke07 Mom said...

Excellent letter. Duke students are indeed elite only in the quality of their character and achievements.

I proudly wear my Duke Lacrosse 2006 bracelet because I believe Colin, Reade, and David are innocent.

Thanks for the great letter, Duke Mom

 
At 7:46 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Associated Press article about letter

Group asks Duke to better support charged lacrosse players

http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060719/APS/607190999

 
At 10:31 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous cooper said...

I think it would help your case, although not from my perspective, from the perspective of some if there were not websites such as - dukeobsrvr.com" -
showing the world a sampling of the student body at Duke.

Letters like the one McFadden sent, (no matter how non threatening and in jest they are now being portrayed as),
and sites like the above, (there are a couple more but these people seem to have a more serious pathos attached to them), certainly don't help your cause no matter how non threatening and in jest they are now being portrayed as.

Good parents, kids in khakis with " big hearts", character counts, persecution…….

Sorry folks, there may have been no legal reason to expel the " letter writer”; although I find that letter a sick testament to the character of that young man and the state of at least the lacrosse part of the student body, but as for the case...well it needs to play out to it's conclusion as it would with any other individual charged with the same crimes as these boys are.

All this anonymous support is impressive.

 
At 11:30 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous Jason Trumpbour said...

Hello,

Let me introduce myself. I am the “official” spokesperson for The Friends of Duke University. I am a triple alumnus of Duke, having undergraduate, graduate and law degrees from the university. I am a former criminal lawyer and I presently teach law at the University of Maryland Law School and in a graduate program in legal and ethical studies at the University of Baltimore. I also played rugby at Duke. I have been posting legal analysis on the Duke Basketball Report website under the name Thurber Whyte. That is not a pseudonym, by the way, but an inside joke that approximately five people in the world will get in addition to perhaps two or three people who actually think they remember a classmate from Duke named Thurber Whyte.

Some posters have questioned the anonymity of our leadership. That is a fair question. There are essentially two reasons for it. The first is that our organization is pretty loose and does not have a clear leadership. Our core group consists of a bunch of people who have been speaking out elsewhere, saw each other and decided to do so together. I am the spokesperson and we have another person who is the moderator, but that is the extent to which we have assigned roles. We have no problems operating this way because a tremendous consensus exists among us on all of the points made in the open letter. In the larger scheme of things, anyone who posts in support here or gets involved in one of our projects we consider a friend. I am pleased to see how many friends we have.

The second reason is somewhat sad. Many friends have present ties to Duke as parents or employees and they fear negative consequences for themselves and their families from speaking out.

I labor under no such difficulties so I am pleased to present myself as the public face of our organization.

Your spokesperson,

Jason Trumpbour

 
At 12:31 AM, July 20, 2006, Blogger Ed said...

As a Duke parent, I am in complete support of the points in this well presented letter.
The lacrosse team has in effect been terrorized by the DA. It is unfortunate that the '88' so quickly folded in favor of a pc position. It is equally unfortunate that the leadership of the school took such pains to enable the abusive DA.
That said, I can only shake my head in disappointed amazement at a bunch of brigth students seeking out trouble by hiring a 'dancer' for entertainment purposes.
They put themselves in harm's way. But that still does not excuse in anyway the abuse of process and authority engaged in by the DA.
The school needs to be seen to back the students and the rule of law, in clear and unmistakable ways, and soon.

 
At 7:24 AM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous joan foster said...

To the question of anonymous posters:

In this story we see an rogue DA indicting on a ever-changing allegation and no evidence.

"Cooperation" from the police department. No wrong answer line-ups.

Kudos from the city manager and town council.

Incitement from the local media (the "swagger story", "We know you know.")

A vigilante poster from Crimestoppers offering "rewards" for "anonymous" information and categorically stating a heinous gang rape had taken place.

Enough support in the community that Nifong may well be elected in November.

A University that did not have the moral fortitude to offer the most tepid support for its students. A university that harbors 88 professors that would almost instantaneously turn on its own at the moment of most need.

Hate groups shouting, "you're a dead man walking!"

The District Attorney meeting with and giving credibility to such an odious group.

Near hysteria among pot bangers with varying agendas.

This is the reality of this case. The reality of Durham today.

I neither live nor work in Durham. Thank God no child of mine ever passes within it's city limits or the purview of Mr. Nifong.

I understand and will never criticise anonymous posters in this case.

Fear is most appropriate.

 
At 9:00 AM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for clarifying that Joan Foster. Come to think of it, it makes a lot of sense. You should have added the NBPP presence in Durham to your list too. Yes, it all makes sense. Much appreciated.

A real big Duke bastekball fan..

 
At 11:49 AM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good discussions on the "open letter" continue over at Courttv board. Here is the link:


Duke LAX Support Group Issues Statement

 
At 12:16 PM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent letter. We are behind you and would love to sign somewhere stating that we support your letter. The administration needs to know just how many Duke supporters fell strongly about this matter..a Duke parent

 
At 12:54 PM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re above: Please send us an email and we will be happy to add your name to our roster of Friends. Thank you for your support.

Moderator

 
At 1:42 PM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great letter! Why isn't someone doing something to disbar Mr. Nifong? He certainly should be. And consequences should await the very troubled accuser for this horrendous lie. How could a prosecutor get away with something like this? It is appalling. In the end, the truth will prevail. To the three young men falsely accused and wrongly charged - I am impressed with your gentlemanly behavior and the integrity you have shown at court appearances - all of this must be extremely difficult. Mike Nifong should not be able to get away with trying to ruin the lives of three innocent young men (I believe he knows they are innocent)- all to benefit himself. The Durham Police Dept is also very much at fault. It is a known fact that race plays a big part in much of what happens in this not very good police dept. It hasn't been a good dept in many years. Many of the officers lack character and fairness and many are motivated by their own personal racial prejudice.

It truly is a great letter.

Your letter is so accurate and your support is needed and I am sure it is appreciated.

 
At 2:03 PM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the wonderfully written open letter by Friends to President Brodhead. The letter is so wonderful it got my creative juices flowing. So, here I am. I like to dedicate this poem to President Brodhead and to the rest of the Duke administration—who I hope would not want to miss a rare opportunity.

Opportunity
John James Ingalls

Master of human destinies am I;
Fame, love and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Cities and fields I walk. I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and, passing by
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late,
I knock unbidden once at every gate.
If sleeping, wake; if feasting, rise, before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who hesitate
Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
Seek me in vain, and uselessly implore.
I answer not, and I return no more.

 
At 3:38 PM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letter is very well-written. It is a great, constructive step taken by "Friends of Duke University" which will hopefully encourage Duke to reassess its position on this incident. Regardless of the initial response, now it is time for Duke to reflect on its mission, its obligation to its students and the principles of democracy (not to mention the "evidence") and take a supportive stand as your letter describes. Furthermore, Duke needs to understand that the questionable behavior of the team that March night is not in any way limited to Duke lacrosse players, but is common among teams, fraternities and other groups in colleges across the country. And to a great extent, Duke has not only allowed this behavior, but has created a climate which encouraged it. As part of its Campus Culture initiative, Duke needs to re-examine its housing and drinking policies which have only pushed parties off campus--and encouraged more binge drinking. If the March 13 party had not occured, surely it was only a matter of time before some other, possibly tragic, event did.

 
At 10:05 PM, July 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might agree with the goals. I might agree with some of the called-for actions.

But I don't agree with the tone of the letter, and I don't think we should be publicly critical of Duke and the Duke administration even though they've handled this situation in very poor fashion p.r.-wise. Let's not add to the hole Duke finds itself in.

 
At 2:56 PM, July 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a Duke fan for about 20 years, and in 2006 I became a Duke mom. I have personally observed just a few of the actions Duke University has taken to try to curb underage drinking. When I was involved with MADD, a Duke University employee with the "Healthy Devil" was also active in the local chapter and helped tremendously with candlelight vigils on the Duke Chapel steps and with the red ribbon campaigns. She told me of the many programs that were available on campus to try to curb underage drinking and that it was a high priority at Duke. One of the first activities required by my child as a student at Duke was to participate in an online alcohol and drug abuse seminar. She took it seriously and said it was very informative.
My point is that Duke has always taken this subject seriously. Will underage drinking ever be eradicated on college campuses? In my opinion, by the time some of these kids get some common sense and maturity about drinking, they are now of legal age.

 
At 3:07 PM, July 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the section on what duke has done for the durham community is great. duke provides so much to durham, and i am amazed at how so many durham residents act as though duke is the root of all their problems.

also - perhaps the durham police should focus more on the gang violence and murders that continue to occur in durham than on prosecuting 3 innocent men.

- Duke student

 
At 4:21 PM, July 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife spoke with a Durham police community liason officer about a case unrelated to the lacrosse scandal -- the off-campus pool party at the beginning of the school year. There were several other incidents involving Duke Students, Durham Police, and Durham citizens. You can read about these at http://www.newsobserver.com/145/story/347947.html

What the community liason told my wife is that so many citizens were extremely angry about the behaviors, and more importantly the attitudes of a number of the Duke students. I truly believe that a small number of Duke students are seriously undermining town gown relations. It was not surprising that Duke decided to purchase many of the off-campus houses to reduce their liability.

As a Durham resident and Duke employee, I believe that Duke has to institute a zero-tolerance policy for illegal behaviors from its students, regardless of whether or not it happens on campus. The Durham community will not tolerate it. I don't know of any community that would.

What (if anything) does this have to do with the lacrosse case? I believe that Nifong 1) was under pressure from the community to "do something" to reign in what appear to be out-of-control Duke students and 2) given some of the precedents listed in the article above, he believed that certain Duke students (especially extremely intoxicated ones) were capable of perpetrating the accusations made by the dancer.

That does not make Nifong's actions right. He appears to have overstepped his bounds several times with regards to this case, and will likely pay a price for doing so (probably in November, the way that things appear to be going). Is it fair to the accused students or the community as a whole? No, but I've always heard that life isn't fair, and experience has borne that observance out.

What we can hope for going forward is that the justice system resolve the questions of guilt or innocence, as well as the appropriateness of Nifong's actions. We should also hope that everyone with any kind of emotional stake in this case takes a serious look at how events can spiral wildly out of control in the presence of young people and excessive amounts of alcohol.

 
At 4:25 PM, July 22, 2006, Anonymous Graham Marlette said...

Well put. Nifong failed to administer a lie detector test because he knew the accuser would fail. That means he had reason to believe these boys were innocent yet he indicted them anyway. If he is guilty of malicious prosecution can he be disbarred? Who persuaded her to change from 20 rapists to 3? If Nifong suborned perjury, can he go to jail? Just curious.

 
At 7:31 PM, July 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think these alleged rapists should not be treated as precious little victims.

They are big boys now and they have to fight their own fights.

Just imagine if they did what the victim says. They are very sick puppies.

Their attitude really says it all.

 
At 10:11 PM, July 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above post is incorrect because NO RAPE TOOK PLACE.

All the evidence, especially the DNA report, suggests that the false accuser had sex that weekend, but not with any of the lacrosse players. The players have consistently stated that no sex took place that night.

 
At 11:55 PM, July 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above 7:31 poster: You mean you would really prefer that there was a rape. Well, the truth is no matter how hard you try, there will not be one. It is not possible to fabricate false rapes other than in your imagination. It did not happen, and if that makes you sad, be it. Be as disappointed or as angry as you like. It will change nothing; the truth (no rape) will look straight into your eyes.

 
At 1:11 AM, July 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above 7:31 p.m., July 22 poster:

1- Colin, Reade, and David are indeed the victims in this case.

2- They are either Duke students or Duke graduates, not "sick puppies."

3- Please analyze the evidence so well in order to see the attitude of the accuser and the second dancer. I believe "their attitude really says it all."

This letter is quite accurate and our support is needed .

Sincerely, Duke Mom

 
At 1:19 PM, July 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your letter. As a woman, physician, and mother of 2 girls I have always considered myself as a feminist. This term to me means you work for and support equal treatment of all people, male or female. To my friends and colleagues in eastern North Carolina the handling of the Duke lacrosse case by the Durham authorities has been a circus of discrimination and by the university, one of abandonment. I visited both Duke and UNC with my high school senior last week. On the tour of UNC they made a point of showing how far they are from Durham to reassure parents. At Duke the guide had obviously been coached about not discussing the case. My daughter, who has always loved Duke, is heading up north to look at schools. She and her friends are now afraid to come to Duke...not from fear of rapists but from fear of Durham and the legal system there. What a loss to a great university! I am an iron duke and will continue to be, supporting womens and mens sports. I hope the Duke administration will see the harm they have caused by abandoning their students to a sexist and racist system.

 
At 2:10 PM, July 23, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good letter. But let me make some comments and also play the Devil’s advocate (no pun intended) in a couple of cases.

First, I feel that President Broadhead and the administration have done an excellent job. The DA through his initial press conferences effectively gave the impression that a there was irrefutable evidence that a crime had occurred, by adults, off-campus. It was completely outside the jurisdiction of the university and completely within Durham’s and the DA’s jurisdiction (Imagine, for example, that this had instead happened in Fort Lauderdale over spring break. What would the administrations reaction have been then?). The only thing that the president and the administration could have done was react to the character assassination of the university, the student body, and the lacrosse team which is what they did and in the correct fashion. There will be a time when President Broadhead should take the moral high ground regarding what happened and I expect he will do so. That time has not yet come. The criticism regarding legal matters that is coming from the university is coming from the correct quarters – eg the law school and its professors of their own volition. In general, I don’t think it does much good to criticize the administration about being reactive. That’s all they could have done given the situation. I think we are very fortunate to have Richard Broadhead as our president.

Caveat: The only thing that disappointed me regarding the university administration was that they had Mike Pressler “resign”. That smacked of kowtowing to public opinion and political correctness.

Second, I am the most disappointed with the infamous 88 members of the faculty that implicitly prejudged events/people and explicitly used the situation to push their internal agenda. If anyone should have kept quiet, especially at that juncture, it was the faculty. If they had a criticism of the university environment it should have come much later as a measured response and not as some “listening letter” in the Chronicle with Fox News-like sound bites. Frankly, they are ones whose names/pictures should be put on a wanted poster.

Finally, be very careful of the level criticism of the DA that you request from the university administration. Regardless of whether the DA initially acted correctly or not (and I don’t believe he did), if the administration criticizes him in such a way that he is completely painted into a corner his response will become a personal one and not a legal one (this may already be happening). Again, criticism of the DA should come from quarters independent of the administration.

Duke Alum

 
At 3:43 AM, July 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing letter---

I haven't been able to follow every single news story...but a fellow Duke alumni told me to go and check out this web site.

Bottom line-- your letter sums up EXCACTLY how I feel about the Duke LAX situation.

Thank you.

A very proud Duke alum

 

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