The State of Things
by Jason Trumpbour, FODU spokesperson
First, a reminder. Tickets remain for the Tahoe Raffle to benefit the defense fund. Click here or scroll down for information on how to order tickets. The proceeds support a very good cause you know you want that Tahoe! The number of tickets is limited and the drawing is on May 28th. Get yours before it is too late.
The End, the Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning.
Now that Reade, Collin and David have finally been exonerated, it is time to think about the future of FODU. Obviously, our number one priority was ending the hoax and getting Reade, Collin and David from out of harm’s way and that has been achieved. However, our approach was originally premised on the fact that Duke should be a part of that process, not only for the sake its falsely accused students, but for its own sake. That objective has yet to be realized. Together, with many others, we changed the world around Duke for the better. However, Bob Steel’s most recent letter and the News and Communications Office’s recent attempts at history show the University still singing exactly the same tune it was a year ago.
When FODU first began operating, a friend of mine who is an alumnus was excited because he thought FODU could become an alternative to the University’s official, administration run alumni organization that would be more responsive to the concerns of alumni. Something like that has already happened as the FODU bulletin board has morphed into the Duke Community Forum and will likely live on beyond us. For my part, I have always hoped that the need for our group would be temporary. Unfortunately, the legal case is over and here we all still are.
At some point, the administration will have to come to terms with the lacrosse case. It is not going to go away. The incident will be relived countless more times as the many books about it are released. The story is not going to get any better for Duke with each retelling--indeed, quite the opposite. Hopefully, the administration will engage in some self reflection and soul searching so that, if the past cannot be changed, the future will. The University will have opportunities to do this in the near future. Settling the Dowd case fairly was a small step in the right direction. We are not going away yet and will watch events in the coming weeks.
Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of attending not one, but two celebrations. The first was a luncheon, hosted by our moderator for FODU members and parents in the Washington area. David Evans and his family were the guests of honor. The second was a dinner hosted in New York by the Wolcotts in honor of last year’s graduating seniors on the lacrosse team. It is a tradition to have a dinner each year for the graduating seniors, but circumstances prevented last year’s seniors from getting theirs.
Over the course of the last year, I have had a chance to get to know many of the player’s families. I never fail to be amazed at their ability to conduct themselves with grace and dignity and even good humor throughout their ordeal. I have also been impressed by their ability to remain charitable toward people who have wronged them and to vigorously pursue justice without malice and with an eye toward everyone’s good, not just their own. They are remarkable people and it was thus a joy to share these two moments of great happiness with them.
However, the real pleasure in these celebrations was finally meeting some of the players themselves and speaking to them. I knew they were basically good kids and not miscreants and libertines as the hoax enablers tried the paint them. Nevertheless, I was quite impressed with them. They were polite, thoughtful, sincere and straightforward young men. They thanked me profusely and I assured them that I stood in for the many, many people who contributed to their cause in large ways and in small, both through FODU and alongside us. I now pass their thanks on to all of you and offer you their worthy lives rescued from ruin as reward.
It is worth noting that, to date, the players are the only actors in the entire saga who have expressed any genuine regret for inappropriate behavior on their part and who have been willing to examine themselves with an eye toward improvement. They are better people for this experience and will use what they have learned to make a difference in the world. Who else in all this can say that?
For those of us who love Duke, the dignity with which the players, especially Reade, Collin and David, conducted themselves throughout their ordeal showed Duke students in such a positive light and gave us all something of which to be proud. Let us also not forget the character, fortitude and resourcefulness shown by the women’s lacrosse team in standing up for what was right.
I got involved with this case because of the issues it presented, not the people. Good, bad or ugly, none of the players had committed a crime and neither they nor their families deserved the terrible ordeal to which Mike Nifong subjected them. Neither did they deserve the unfair vilification of them by those who either wanted to enable the hoax or who wanted to rationalize their inaction. No one is safe in a society that allows manifest injustice such as the lacrosse case to go forward. No institution dedicated to knowledge and social betterment can look the other way when something like it occurs.
In the end, however, the people were what made this experience so truly rewarding. We could not have asked for more worthy beneficiaries of our efforts than the players and their families, especially Reade, Collin and David and their families. For that, I and my colleagues at FODU are most grateful to them.
I have to commend Attorney General Roy Cooper and the Special Prosecutors for the professionalism and leadership they demonstrated during their investigation. You may recall that, when the Attorney General’s Office took over the case I had this to say:
- Roy Cooper and his attorneys have a real opportunity to restore confidence in North Carolina’s legal system. Furthermore, in doing so, they have a real opportunity to educate the public about the proper role of prosecutors in our legal system and how the legal system is supposed to resolve criminal matters. They can do these things by scrupulously executing their duties and exercising their discretion according to the requirements of law. Where Nifong allowed political considerations to influence his actions, they can embrace the rule of law. Where Nifong, abdicated his duties, they can embrace them. Where Nifong mislead the public as to the appropriate legal standards and his proper role, they can be honest. The public there and all over the world will be following their every move. Let us hope that they seize this opportunity and make the most of it.
We have had various letter writing campaigns asking our public officials to do something to help Reade, Collin and David. It is only fitting that we recognize them when they do something right. Please consider writing to thank Roy Cooper and his assistants for a job well done.
Finally, congratulations to the Men’s and Women’s lacrosse teams for advancing to the Final Four. That both teams could successfully overcome all of the enormous challenges presented by real life and also play lacrosse at the highest level is perhaps the final wonder of this whole saga.