Monday, May 29, 2006

Press Release No. 4

Date: December 19, 2006
Subject: Duke University President Richard Brodhead responds to our previous press release

Jason Trumpbour, Spokesperson
Tel: (443) 834-3666

Yesterday’s press release and President Brodhead’s response

Yesterday, the Friends of Duke University enthusiastically endorsed Congressman Walter Jones’ call for the Justice Department to open an inquiry into the misconduct of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. We also urged Richard Brodhead, President of Duke University; Robert Steel, chairman of the Duke University Board of Trustees; and all other members of the Board of Trustees to publicly endorse Congressman Jones’ request.

In response to our press release, President Brodhead issued a statement that stopped well short of directly criticizing Nifong and made no mention of Congressman Jones’ call for an inquiry. Instead, it merely reminded everyone that “our students must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.”

The full text of yesterday’s press release by the Friends of Duke University can be found here: Press Release No. 3.

President Brodhead’s statement can be found here: Statement by Duke President Brodhead Following Last Friday's Court Hearing in Lacrosse Case.

Our reply to President Brodhead

While we are pleased to see that our Monday morning press release apparently generated a public response from Richard Brodhead, Friends of Duke University is distressed by the president’s meager statement and apparent refusal to endorse the request by Congressman Jones that the Department of Justice investigate the conduct of District Attorney Mike Nifong..

Despite revelations that the district attorney and the director of a private DNA lab entered into an agreement to withhold exculpatory evidence, President Brodhead offered nothing more than the same banal truisms that we have been hearing for months.

He said, “It is of the essence that everyone involved in the legal system act fairly in pursuing the truth and protecting the rights of the individuals involved.” Does he mean to imply that Nifong has acted “fairly”? He said, “The DA’s case will be on trial just as much as our students will be.” This statement would apply to virtually every criminal trial in the country, the vast majority of which are not characterized by prosecutorial misconduct. Such oblique language minimizes the scope of Nifong’s violations of ethical and legal canons by suggesting that obtaining a guilty verdict would justify such misconduct. In fact, the desire to obtain a guilty verdict despite overwhelming evidence of innocence is precisely what appears to have caused the misconduct at issue. Given all that has been revealed, President Brodhead’s unwillingness to comment further on the treatment of Duke students by the district attorney and Durham authorities is unacceptable.

In his statement, the president even appeared to provide a subtle endorsement for Nifong’s case, when he spoke of the time “when [the case] goes before a judge and jury.” Did the president intend to dismiss defense motions that would terminate the case before it “goes” to a “jury”? Did he intend to suggest that the evidence merits a trial and not a dismissal? If not, we urge President Brodhead to issue a statement clarifying his meaning.

President Brodhead should recognize that it is the job of a university president to provide a moral compass for his campus. That job includes going beyond empty rhetoric to take concrete actions, or at least support the concrete actions of others, when a local prosecutor consistently denies due process rights to Duke undergraduates.

The president’s remarks yesterday conveyed the unfortunate impression that Congressman Jones is willing to do more to uphold Duke students’ due process rights than is the president of Duke University. When the rape allegations were first made, the president’s statement included the following remarks:

Whatever that inquiry may show, it is already clear that many students acted in a manner inappropriate to a Duke team member in participating in the March 13 party. I applaud Athletics Director Joe Alleva for responding to the conduct that is not in question even as we wait for the investigation to determine the truth about disputed parts of the events

If this statement contains any substance at all as the proper way to proceed in such cases, why is it not now appropriate to respond to the unquestionably unethical and unlawful conduct of Nifong and applaud Congressman Jones for asking the Justice Department to respond to that conduct accordingly? The longer President Brodhead remains silent and evasive about the conduct of the district attorney, the greater the impression becomes that other concerns are trumping the appropriate concern for students.

Our Group and Its Mission

The Friends of Duke University consists of alumni, parents, faculty and friends of Duke who are deeply concerned about the University’s response to the lacrosse case. We want to ensure fair and equitable treatment for Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and David Evans and feel that the University itself has not done enough to pursue such treatment.

Although we have been happy to take a leadership role in speaking out on behalf of these falsely accused students, 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 its students and for itself.

On the Web:
Friends of Duke University


At 8:54 AM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is truly sickening to read Brodhead's response. I am beginning to think the allegations I heard that he wants to see these kids in jail are true. Given that, he must be really disappointed with the recent developments. Oh My!

What a mouse of a man Brodhead turned out to be! What a disgrace he is to the university! What a vicious character!

At 9:25 AM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brodhead must explain why he has refused to support Collin, Reade and Dave in any substantive way, in light of his previous appeal to the president of Armenia on behalf of a Turkish Duke graduate student who had been criminally framed over there. This came out a few months ago, but nothing further has come of it that I'm aware of. Brodhead is not just a hypocrite, but a moral and intellectual coward. He is dragging my alma mater down. Duke '67 alum.

At 11:03 AM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your letter is not strong enough:

1. By "other concerns," I assume you're referring to the academic welfare class at Duke, which is euphemistically referred to as the Group of 88. It's the 3d round and--believe me--Brodhead's wobbly: why not knock him out? Why didn't u ask him what he plans to do with these thugs? It's a legitimate question!

2. IMO, Brodhead's a bitch: Why not address your letter to the Board of Trustees? Brodhead has shown time and again that he's a coward--the strategy now is to get him fired. He violated THE MOST IMPORTANT OBLIGATION of a college president--protecting his in loco parentis charges from the scum that are otherwise referred to as DA and "Professor."

This makes me want to puke.

Let's get rid of this bastard.

James F. Clyne
Nighttown Media


At 11:16 AM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason's letter was just right. There is no point in going overboard with any argument. In fact, this letter should be quiet effective under most circumstances. However, this is a very unique case where I am sure it will be ignored.

Brodhead and his administration already made it clear to us all that they are not open to reason on this case. They would rather go with their passion! And it is not a great mystery where their passion is.

Duke Friend

At 2:47 PM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on Brodhead. I am sad that Nan Keohane isn't here to demonstrate true leadership and courage.

At 4:57 PM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can i suggest that everyone stop giving to dukeexcept on the condition that the grants are used for MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS rather than yet another welfare system freewheeling about being equalizers in a non defined subjective atmosphere with some academics using it for self interest.We have the purse strings ,why dont we use them orAre we most of us into appeasement and equally cowardly
name withheld for fear of retaliation.shows you where we are psychologically

At 5:33 PM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a 1972 Duke Grad. Brodhead is an disgrace. He should be out front protecting the innocent students, instead of making bland meaningless comments.
I have contributed to Duke at least once a year for the last 30 years. My contributions are at an end. I will reconsider, only if Brodhead is publicly fired.
I call on all other Duke Grads to pledge not to make any contributions to Duke while Brodhead is there.

At 7:02 PM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We decided to give to Duke as we always do, but earmarked the entire amount for Pratt Engineering. Our hats are off to Pratt! They make us proud.

Duke Parent

At 7:31 PM, December 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have not read Brodhead's comments closely enough. “It is of the essence that everyone involved in the legal system act fairly in pursuing the truth and protecting the rights of the individuals involved. The DA’s case will be on trial just as much as our students will be.” Since the first sentence is obvious (the legal system is supposed to act fairly) it is clear that Pres. Brodhead included that sentence specifically to make his next point--that the DA's case will be on trial. I realize you would like an even stronger statement, but this is a step in the right direction. This IS a criticism of the DA's case--although a cautiously worded one. Since Brodhead feels (probably on the advice of attorneys) that the university should do its best to stay out of the legal process, this is actually a fairly stern warning.

while I think it is good to keep asking for stronger statements from the university, I also think you should recognize when he makes a statement that supports, in any way, your mission. The best communicators (and activists) find a way to publicly interpret the words of others to support their own theses....

At 8:45 AM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was appalled to read in Richard Brodhead's statement the following words:

"As I told Ed Bradley during a '60 Minutes' interview last summer, given the concerns that have been raised, when it goes before a judge and jury the DA's case will be on trial just as much as our students will be. In the meanwhile, as I have said before, our students must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise."

Richard Brodhead may think we do not remember that what he really said was that the indicted students would have an opportunity to "prove their innocence" in a court of law, thereby standing the US criminal justice system on its very head. When he asserts "as I have said before, our students must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise," we don't know when that "before" was (cf. William Jefferson Clinton's use of "is"). Was Brodhead's "before" ten minutes ago, twenty minutes ago, thirty years ago, or what?

What we do know is this: that was NOT his public statement at the time of the Duke players being carted off to the pokey.

I suspect that this back-pedaling may be fallout from a major drop in donors to the Duke coffers. And it is possible that the only way Duke will be able to turn the page on this is to get rid of their crippled president.

Or he may have been getting some coaching about how to be cute with the language.

At 8:51 AM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Additionally, Duke, Brodhead, and Burness should be quaking in their collective boots about major damages that the lacrosse coach and players (including those not indicted) should bring suits to recover. It goes without saying that Durham County and the Durham City Police will also have their necks on the chopping block.

At 10:23 AM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear All,

Is there not a way to make a mass mailing and appeal to Duke Alums? Request Alums and current students/parents to support an out cry of the way Duke students' rights are currently treated by the administration and Durham's corrupt government. Mention:
1) Covington's "representation" of the lacrosse team,
2) Failure to discuss the case and Duke's actions with parents,
3) The actions of the 88 professors,
4) Slanderous attacks in class of the teaching staff,
5) The list of complaints goes on.........

Is it funding you need? A mailing list? Many if not most alums and current students don't read the blogs. They are not aware of the extent of Brodhead's inaction.

Just a suggestion, WB.

At 11:28 AM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for your comments. The most significant obstacle in reaching out to Alumni appears to be the lack of a comprehensive mailing list. If anyone has suggestions about how to obtain a decent mailing list or how to construct one, please share your ideas here.

If you have partial lists (list of your friends, classmates, teammates, etc.) send those list via email to FODU. I am sure they will process that information. This is one area where we can all help. The email address is:

Thank you.

At 4:56 PM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 7:02
I may be mistaken but I think money donated to the university is fungible, i.e., money you dedicate to Pratt, etc. just lessens the amount the university allocates to them. Money given to ANY segment of the school benefits brodhead.

to 7:31
What blather!!! If this clown was not such an unmitigated wuss, he would make a strong stand for the students. Imagine Donna Shalala in the same circumstances. Politically I personally think she stinks but by God, she knows what her job is.

At 7:48 PM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! Not one dime more will come out of my pocket to Duke. Instead, I will donate to the funds for defense of our boys, and I will do all I can to support the innocent students who have been abandoned by their University. What a disgrace....

At 11:57 PM, December 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 7:48

You have the right idea ... now all we have to do is make sure the word gets spread far and wide. As I have posted elsewhere, I am removing Duke from my will and am naming a new beneficiary to a life insurance policy I took out almost 40 years ago. This will not of course rival Bill and Melissa's contribution but if enough of us pull the plug, maybe they will get the message.

Disgraceful??? There are no words to discribe the harm these scum bags have done to our school. I am heartbroken.

When brodhead and the 88 go, I may reconsider.

At 11:52 AM, December 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 2005 Alumni Directory list will reach practically all of the Alumni who are accustomed to giving meaningful donations. That makes it a very significant start for reaching contacts as distressed as I am with the Administration's position as epitomized by President Brodhead.

At 1:43 PM, December 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Brodhead's tepid and ambiguous statement is just another example of the so many "learned" individuals reluctance to acknowledge what is right from what is wrong(or more alarming, failure to recognize it). No wonder so many folks seem amoral these days.

While I do not condone the type of partying that the Duke 3 were participating in on the night of the offense, such rougish conduct pales in comparison to that of the DA, some members of the Duke faculty and administration, the press and many Durham residents who have actively participated in this travesty of justice. What a shame that such a great school in such a great state has been so tarnished.

At 12:21 AM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any Duke Alum who is not familiar with this case must be living in the South Pole with the penguins or gradualted reading impaired.

At 10:00 AM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concerned Alumnus (Dec 21 11:52 am post),

How can we get access to that 2005 Alumni Directory? Wouldn't it be nice to send the proper message to Duke alumni on this case and have an easy way of communication with them? Together, there is so much we can do for these falsely accused kids.

If you or anyone else is able to, please help us get access to that directory or other similar directories. Email any information you have to FODU:

Thank you.

At 12:31 PM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left Duke in 1959. The students and administrators of those days would not be recognized by those roaming today's campus. While I have not followed the lacrosse case as closely as many of you, one would have to be living on another planet to avoid the attention the media has given the matter.

What troubles me about the recent media barrage is that no one has discussed the contemptible behavior of Broadhead and his administration in this affair. The immediate abandonment of these students by Duke is beyond my comprehension. I believe that such behavior would have never occurred during my four years. But, at that time the phrase "politically correct" was unknown to our language.

At 6:55 PM, December 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Legal Nurse, I salute you for having to courage to say the truth in such simple and yet elegant terms. Many are 100 percent with you on that thought. Have a great holiday season. Merry Christmas!

At 6:13 PM, June 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I demand that the 88 so called professor's apologize to Reade, Collin and Dave. They should be fired immediately. Also the students that turned on these 3 brave men should be expelled. I will no longer support Duke University. I will send my money to a worthy University and encouage
my friends to do the same.


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