Monday, May 29, 2006

Press Release No. 2

Friends of Duke University
Date: July 26, 2006
Subject: Our open letter to the President and Trustees of Duke receives a response

Our Group and Its Mission

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. On July 19, we published an open letter to the President and Board of Trustees of Duke in the University’s newspaper, The Chronicle. The open letter asked 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 Letter Receives a Response

We are pleased to announce that Duke University President Richard Brodhead responded to the open letter from Friends of Duke University. A copy of that letter is attached to this release. Whatever our disagreements, we believe it speaks highly of the university that the President would respond in this form and we are grateful for his willingness to work with us to move forward to “a just and speedy resolution of the court case, to a proud new future for the men's lacrosse team, and to an era of increased responsibility and respect among Duke students in general.” We agree with President Brodhead that Duke should “require the legal system to proceed in a fair-minded, even-handed, and speedy fashion.” We also share the sentiment that “we are eager for our students to be proved innocent.” We will issue a further response regarding steps we feel the University should take to advance the goals President Brodhead espouses. As stated in our open letter, we do not feel that the accused lacrosse players have thus far been treated by the judicial system "in a fair-minded, even-handed, and speedy fashion," and we believe that the University has a positive obligation to ensure that local authorities follow lawful, just and regular procedures when dealing with Duke students. We are willing to work with President Brodhead and the rest of Duke University to help achieve these goals.

On the Web:
Friends of Duke University



President Richard H. Brodhead's Response to our Open Letter

July 25, 2006
Friends of Duke University

Dear Friends:

I thank you for sending me a copy of the open letter that you published in the Duke Chronicle. You say that you write not to criticize, but to offer support. I take you at your word for that, and I thank you. I well understand that in raising questions of such seriousness, you are demonstrating your concern for the University and the desire to make it better.

In a situation as complex as the one we've been grappling with, where powerful passions have coexisted with rapidly changing "facts" and where action has been required in the face of deep uncertainty, it was virtually inevitable that the University response would be open to question. It won't surprise you to learn that I have received critical comments from a great variety of points of view, including diametrically opposite ones. I accept that, and would only say that those of us in positions of responsibility have acted as best we could to make two points: that what the players were accused of was, if true, a heinous act; and that it would be equally unjust to prejudge their guilt in the absence of proof and certainty. This dual message has been at the heart of virtually every public statement I have made on the case.

I won't respond point by point to your message but do want to speak to two issues that you raise. You say that "at this point, no fair-minded person could any longer believe that a rape occurred" and, accordingly, you chide the University for not supporting the players more aggressively. But as you yourself recognize, "the university can express no opinion about the ultimate outcome of pending legal matters.” I am well aware that, after many weeks of media stories that made it seem almost self-evidently true that a rape had occurred, recent stories have offered extensive evidence exonerating the indicted students and questioning the legitimacy of the case. But the University does not have direct access to the full truth of the case now any more than we did earlier, and we can't speak with certainty of matters that only the criminal justice system can resolve.

We are eager for our students to be proved innocent. We share the wish for a speedy resolution of all the matters that are now in doubt. In my June 5 community statement I spoke of the ordeal our team members have lived through – a painful, costly experience for themselves, their families, and the community as a whole. I also reiterated that if the indicted students are the objects of a false accusation, they are the objects of an injustice as grave as the one they have been accused of. But as you recognize, the University can't go the further step and proclaim our certainty of their innocence. That requires resolution through the legal system – which is all the more reason why we require the legal system to proceed in a fair-minded, even-handed, and speedy fashion.

You also voice the perception that the University has been complicit in scapegoating members of the lacrosse team. I recognize the gravity of the charge, but I do not agree with it. It was the party that the men’s lacrosse team held on the night of March 13 that precipitated the subsequent avalanche of publicity and notoriety. In our statements, the University has been consistently critical of the team's conduct on that night (while taking scrupulous pains to distinguish between the acknowledged conduct and the felony charges, which have not been established). But we have not confined our censure to this one team. The Campus Culture Initiative outlined in my April 5 statement recognizes that the underlying issues are pervasive in undergraduate culture, and not just at Duke. In coming weeks we'll be working to promote responsible conduct among all students: on the men’s lacrosse team to be sure, but also throughout the Duke student body. Meanwhile, it was a report the administration commissioned, the Coleman Report, that gave testimony to the positive dimensions of the lacrosse team's history.

I recognize the anguish in your letter. I am not surprised by it: we are living through an unusually painful and challenging situation. But in my view, the way to heal this anguish is not to go back and endlessly debate things people should have done in the past. It's to move forward – to a just and speedy resolution of the court case, to a proud new future for the men’s lacrosse team, and to an era of increased responsibility and respect among Duke students in general. I look forward to working with you and all other friends of Duke to achieve these goals.

Best wishes,

Richard H. Brodhead
President

cc: Board of Trustees
Editor of Chronicle

25 Comments:

At 4:08 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments in this section were originally entered under Press Release No. 1. They were moved here, at a later date, in an effort to improve the organization of the website.

Moderator

 
At 4:09 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I drop my grade to Brodhead from a B+ to a B-. I'm sure those of you who have been so critical of him will find his response more of the same, and it is. I guess he's convinced he's taken the proper neutral course and if he's taken a lot of flak for being too lenient on the boys and the team, that's his proof that he's on the right track.

He's mostly right on the neutrality thing, but as Durham's largest employer and biggest benefactor it would not be unreasonable at all of him to lobby publicly for a more expedited trial date.

Duke09Parent

 
At 4:09 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

brodhead is in denial or is too stupid to see how his actions and the actions of the notorious 88 affected and fueled this case - his words are mere platitudes just in case (his biggest fear) we are right about the boys and they are acquitted and he is amde to look like the fool that he was and continues to be ...nothing he has done so far shows that he gives a rat's ass about the future of these kids and yet he takes one more opportunity to smear the lacrosse players one more time about the actions of the gosh horrors --- party " i.e strippers and horror --drinking because that surely in his mind justifes his feeble elitist and racist actions agasint 3 white players and the actions of the alleged victim and nfong in falsely
accusing someone of a crime which is far worse that any drinking and..... let us also not forget when we went to school and when brodhead went to school it was legal to drink at 18- even the bush twins did some underage drinking adn im sure that soem of the durham townies are doign some underage drinking without consequence- no excuse to have people falsely accuse you and threaten to lock you up for the rest of your lives

 
At 4:09 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am pleased that Pres. Broadhead responded to the FODU letter, and am generally satisified with his response as, hopefully, the beginning of a constructive dialog. I hope the dialog will continue about what Duke can and should do now, and regarding things such as "policies" on invasion of privacy, dorm searches and the treatment of students charged with crimes (should these be viewed on a case-by-case basis?) I also think Duke needs to consider the role its own policies had in creating the environment that led to the party. The "see no evil" approach of moving groups off campus has only put the party scene (which certainly existed when we were in college as well) in a less-controlled and more dangerous setting. As opposed to many who visit this site, I felt Duke's initial reaction in March was appropriate. Although I firmly believe that the three indicted young men and their families are suffering a grave injustice, I do not believe Duke's response could have changed that (and, in fact, if Duke had been "more supportive" of the players at the time, or had not canceled the lacrosse season, I think the public outcry would have been even harsher.) It benefits the cause of all who care about the lacrosse players and about Duke University to accept that there still are those who have different opinions about this situation, and that the best way to affect change is to continue the positive approach begun by the FODU letter.

 
At 4:10 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, for a change, let us look at the bright side of this. President Brodhead has responded to the Friends' open letter, and he stated he is willing to work with others to do the right things. Perhaps, this is a good starting point. If a constructive dialog begins, then progress can be made. In my view, we are better off today than we were yesterday. At least, we can now look forward to some substantive debate on issues and specifics. We did not have that until now. I am grateful that, however little, this is a movement in the right direction. I refuse to be negative on this development. Remember, little steps do add up to larger ones.

U.I.

 
At 4:10 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to sound real silly here. But, isn’t that the advantage of posting without a name? Ever since this lacrosse scandal broke out, I have been wondering if President Brodhead had really mixed feelings about the incident. I postulated that he might be tempted, on the one hand, to do everything he can to help these three kids and get them out of the harms way and, on the other hand, he might have struggled to do exactly what his legal advisors are telling him. This would be quite normal --the usual split between the heart and the mind. We heard about it often enough. We read it in the novels; we have seen it in the movies, and so on.

When I saw the news today on a response letter from President Brodhead to FODU, I was really hoping that I will find the answer to this question. Now, having read the response I can tell you that I am no closer to the answer than I was before. For the life of me I cannot tell if such a split between his heart and his mind exists. What is my conclusion? Well, that’s easy: either President Brodhead is a very good actor and hides his feelings superbly or he does not have a heart at all. I do not know which is the correct answer, do any of you?

 
At 4:11 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...which is all the more reason why we require the legal system to proceed in a fair-minded, even-handed, and speedy fashion."

President Brodhead, are you following the same case?

Regardless, I am very happy that FODU received a response and look forward to the future.

 
At 4:13 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

President Brodhead: "...but we have not confined our censure to this one team....In coming weeks we'll be working to promote responsible conduct among all students"

Speaking of responsibility, this is my definition of responsibility for every older generation including the educators.

The Bridge Builder
Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way."
"This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

I dedicate above poem to President Brodhead – who just crossed a stream and must decide what’s next.

 
At 4:13 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the 3:57 poster. I have had two more hours to reflect on this ‘so called’ response letter from President Brodhead. I am now seeing things more clearly. I was being too generous, and totally unrealistic, in my earlier comments. That the President does not have a heart is quite clear from his response. Now, I am even beginning to question whether he has a mind. Hiding one's head in the sand does not make some realities and facts go away. He appears to be doing that. He seems to be one of very few remaining who is unaware of what the facts of the case are (or, who is refusing to accept those facts). And to think that in his position he could have actually made difference! No, there are no remaining questions. Everything is clear now, crystal clear. This is indeed a sad day for Duke and for the whole Duke family.

 
At 4:13 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am referring to the 2:03 pm July 20 post having to do with “opportunity”. Yes, there was an opportunity here, a rare one indeed, that could have been taken. Some wrongs could have been corrected, an olive branch could have been offered, broken bridges of trust could have been repaired, and many other good things. Sadly, the opportunity is now lost, gone forever. President Brodhead clearly chose not to take this opportunity. This is a great loss to us all, we let the opportunity slip by.

 
At 4:14 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To those who believe that Brodhead has been fair one only needs to look at the FResno case and see the striking differences in the way the case has been handled by that president. Brodhead is a wuss who allowed professors to bully their students and write such a horrible open letter about their students. Brodhead and the 88 need to be replaced. Remember Brodhead has done this before in Mass.

 
At 4:14 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To UBUNTU poster: Thank you for posting on out site. This section is reserved for comments having to do with our open letter and President Brodhead's response to that letter. Because of this, I moved your comments to the "general topics" section of our site. You will find it there. Have a nice day.

Moderator

 
At 4:14 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The letter to the President and his response seem to me to be thoughtful, useful and sincere. In my view, the media firestorm could not have been averted by any action on his part, despite the 20-20 hindsight/ monday morning quarterbacking of his critics.
One point only in the arguments here seems to me irrational - the idea that Duke students are not socially elite. It may be true that nearly half the students receive some (!) financial aid. But that means that over half the students pay down $40,000+ annually -- more than the average annual family income per year in many states - without any assistance. And a large proportion have attended extremely elite schools like Dunbarton all their lives. Duke students are on average, just plain rich.

 
At 4:15 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delbarton, not Dunbarton.
And 42% receive aid averaging just $21592 vs 2006 costs of $4,005. This is not your average USA 19 year old, or even undergrad.

 
At 4:15 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 5:17 pm commentator: Have you seen a publication by Princeton which lists the colleges in America and the costs of those colleges? If you have not seen that one, have you seen any publication or any newspaper that lists the costs of colleges? It sounds to me like you have not. Let me give you a few examples (I may be a few dollars off here and there).

University of Pennsylvania: 42,000$
Georgetown University: 43,000$
George Washington: 46,000$
University of Virginia (out of state): 39,000$
Duke University: 43,000$

Are you saying that students who can afford to go to these colleges are sinful and somehow they should be punished for it? Are you suggesting that it is crime to afford to go to these colleges? Sir, I left many other universities and colleges with very similar tuitions out of my list. By your account, a good portion of America will be guilty of being "too rich" to live. I suggest you get yourself a Princeton book, or get onto the internet, and find out what the college costs are these days. It sounds to me like you are totally uninformed.

 
At 4:16 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This case is a rape case, no more, no less! The only question that needs to be answered is the following: "was there a rape on March 13th and were the rapists the ones indicted?" The rest is insignificant. Why should we care about how much it costs to go to college? Why should we care about the drinking problems of college students? Are we the resident school masters? No. Why should we care about the economic disadvantages that some Durham residents might have? There are many communities in America where there are disadvantaged residents. Are we the White House economic team developing a strategy for reducing poverty in America? No, we are not.

If we are going to discuss income parities between various communities why restrict it to Duke students and Durham residents? Why not bring in the disparities between people who live in Manhattan and those say those in New Orleans? All this is nonsense. We can find many disparities across America, in many areas. And, there are many social issues that need attention. Fortunately resolving those is not our job. This is not what this case is all about. Let me repeat, the only issue here is: “was there a rape or not, if there was one, was it committed by the three indicted?”

So, let us get real people. Let us not drift into irrelevant fancy debates. The lives of three people hang in the balance. Let us not forget that. This is what the discussion should be about and nothing else. Those who constantly want to drift into these useless debates, could it be that there is good reason why you want to go off topic? Be honest, just ask yourselves that question. Why do you find it so hard to stay on topic? Could it be that it is not yielding the best results for you?

A concerned member of the Duke family

 
At 4:16 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great letter. Broadhead truly lives up to his first name by not having the stones to stick up for his students v. this storyteller. He really is a Dick.

Billy

 
At 4:16 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

President Brodhead,

As a Duke alum, I implore you to step up to what the President's job is all about. Leadership.

Are you afraid that sticking up for your students will offend your faculty? Or the corrupt local law enforcement and DA?

Unfortunately, as you have done nothing, I am afraid to let my 8-year-old son wear his Duke t-shirt to camp without people's misguided assumptions. I am deeply ashamed at this fear. Are you, Mr. Brodhead?

 
At 4:17 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, first some background on me, just to put my biases out front. I don't live in Durham, nor do I have ties to Duke, so I really don't have a dog in this fight. However, becuase of this, I believe that I can offer a fairly objective opinion on this situation, from a distance.

I was educated at state (ie, not "elite") institutions. But, I've done reasonably well for myself, and, in fact, was offered a position at Duke Medical Center a few years back.
I am also a father of a high school lacrosse player in Bethesda, Md.

Points:
1) There is little doubt in my mind that my son would have attended this party, with full knowledge that strippers would be there, as a "team" function. Not that I'm proud of this, its simply a reflection of the actions taken by many (?most?) 20 yo young men.

2) There can be little doubt that the accused players are innocent (no need to go over all the details here).

3) The behavior of the Duke adminstration and faculty is both abysmal and abhorrent. A quality university would take the American ideal of "innocent until proven guilty" to heart. The group of 88 are an embarrassment, but equally embarassing is the fact that very few of the Duke faculty have publicly supported these young men. All of the Duke "family" should be ashamed.

4) From a national perspective, this is a huge, festering sore for both Durham and Duke. As an institution that aspires to national prominence, the longer this case persists, the worse Duke and Durham look in the nation's eye. Durham looks like a hick good ol boy town, and Duke looks like a spineless institution unwilling to support its students.

5) What can be done?
a) The Duke adminstration and faculty should recognize the American principle of "innocent until proven guilty" and stand PUBLICLY AND FIRMLY behind these young men.
b) The Duke Administration and Trustees should do all in their (considerable) power to force a speedy trial for these young men. The longer this wound festers, the worse Duke and Durham look.

 
At 4:18 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your school does not support the Mens Lacrosse Team at all. I am a rape victim myself, and I think the "Dancer" and Ms. Roberts, are Lying and are just out for money. Guys Please stay strong. I believe all of you. Because the "victim" is not acting like a victim at all.

 
At 4:18 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading President Brodhead’s response the Friends of Duke open letter calls to mind Gov. Melvin P. Thorpe’s defining moment in the “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” when he sings his theme song-“Doing the Side Step”.

In his response Brodhead defends his actions on the flawed premise that “action has been required in the face of deep uncertainty”.

In fact, once he had justifiably suspended part of the lacrosse season, there was no compelling immediate need for further action. He could have deliberately preserved his options as events unfolded until there was more certainty.

Instead, he bought into Nifong’s self-serving story and yielded to the exaggerated cry of a strident minority of the faculty that this team was out of control. In a knee-jerk rush to judgment, he suspended player McFayden, canceled the season and fired Coach Pressler, clearly choosing political expediency over reasoned adjudication.

Those condemning actions gave credence to Nifong’s media blitz in the court of public opinion and intensified the avalanche of publicity.

Brodhead now seeks to avoid accountability for those actions by urging those concerned to ignore the past and move forward to healing. In my experience, healing occurs only when the offending parties candidly admit and accept responsibility for their harmful actions.

The lacrosse team captains publicly apologized on behalf of the team for the ill-advised spring break party shortly after it happened. Some had hoped that Brodhead would accept responsibility for that part of the anguish he has caused. It is disappointing that he did not.

As an earlier responder observed, Brodhead missed a golden opportunity to build a bridge to those he abandoned. This is unfortunate for all concerned.

A proud Duke lacrosse grandparent.

 
At 4:19 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Duke stood behind its students, but after reading Mr. Brodhead's response, I have decided not to apply to Duke at all. I will stay in my area. I just want to say I feel that Mr. Nifong had something to do with Collin being convicted in D.C. and that is what he needed to keep these CRAZY charges going. I hope that he Mr. Nifong will see the light "right" and drop these charges, and charge the false accuser with filing a false police report and take miss Roberts with her.

 
At 4:19 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm eager to hear the details of the case when it goes to trial. unlike everybody else on this board, my mind is not made up yet...

 
At 4:19 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad that the president of Duke University responded to a letter from "Friends of Duke University". I presume he responded to it because he perceives public opinion and the coffers of Duke alumni demand it. As a parent of a high school junior, who like Reade can attend Harvard, Princeton or Yale, I would be furious if my son looked at Duke University -NOW- given the attitude of the current administration. My advise to you all: after the unconscionable behavior of your president and prior to a record low number of applicants this year - watch - work towards his immediate dismissal. A college president needs common sense before intellectual sensibilties, and I believe your president has neither. Did he ever personally call any of the three boys or their parents? Why would he think anyone was guilty if they agreed to DNA testing? Does he think Duke students are dumb? Or does he just think lacrosse players (and other athletes)are? Does he know anything about the credentials of his student body? You have serious problems at your University that go before intolerance and prejudice.

 
At 4:19 AM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i beleive that Mr.Broadhead did not live upto his responsibility as a guardian ed lightum for his young adult students.His job is to stand in lieu of parents.he can sanction and dicipline for infractions by his students which he has been lax about but he must advocate for his students until they are PROVEN guilty and even then he must do whatever is possible to support and nurture rather than cut and run he would not want anything less for his own children

 

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