Monday, May 29, 2006

Press Release No. 6

Date: February 8, 2007
Subject: Our response to the Open Letter posted by “Concerned Faculty” at Duke University

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


On April 6, 2006, a group of 88 Duke University professors published an advertisement in the University newspaper The Chronicle. This ad, entitled “We are listening to our students,” contained several references to the Duke lacrosse case. It made reference to “what happened to this young woman” and stated, “To the students speaking individually and to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.” It contained quotes from students such as “If something like this happens to me . . . What would be used against me--my clothing”? And “no one is really talking about how to keep the young woman herself central to this conversation.”

These professors who became known as the “Group of 88” were widely criticized for prejudging the guilt of members of the men’s lacrosse team and for attempting to advance whatever agenda they had at the expense of these students and their reputations. Their ad was also cited by defense attorneys in their motion for a change in venue as evidence of extremely prejudicial pretrial publicity.

Nine months later, on January 16, 2007, a group containing most of the same members and now calling itself the “Concerned Faculty” posted an open letter on their website defending their original ad. Claiming that the original ad had been “broadly, and often intentionally, misread . . . as rendering a judgment in the case,” the group rejected calls to retract or apologize for it. The complete text of the Concerned Faculty statement as well as a link to their original ad can be found here.

Our Response

One of the group’s members, Ronen Plesser stated, “My personal hope is that this will be the basis for a conversation on campus . . . a conversation that will eventually lead to some understanding.” However, the January 16 open letter begs more questions than it answers about the purposes of the “Listening” ad and the sort of conversation being sought given the peculiar language used to express its points and communicate its premises. The Friends of Duke University thought it appropriate to request further clarification. To that end we have today published an ad in the Chronicle asking a series of questions gathered from comments posted on our website and that of Professor K.C. Johnson’s Durham in Wonderland site.

Friends of Duke University has repeatedly reached out to these faculty members. Our first open letter published on July 19 stated,

    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.

A few days before the Concerned Faculty posted their letter, we attempted to find common ground with them by asking if they would join the University in calling for due process for Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, an issue on which we hoped everyone could agree. All of our overtures have been ignored or rebuffed.

We remain sincere in our efforts to reach out to them. We are dismayed that, not only would they chose to ignore our efforts, but that they would instead respond with a defiant refusal to admit mistake either in judgment or expression and that they would insult the motives and/or intelligence of their critics. We do not begrudge members of the Group of 88/Concerned Faculty their right to call attention to social issues of concern to them. We instead condemn the unfair public vilification of members of the lacrosse team done in the course of expressing their concerns. We conclude our latest ad with an earnest question: “Would you be willing to sign a statement, such as that of the Economics Professors, saying that all students, including lacrosse players and other student-athletes, are welcome in your classes?” A copy of that statement, originally published as a letter to the Chronicle, may be found here.

Friends of Duke University supports academic freedom for both faculty and students. We have no political agenda and have a diverse following representing all sorts of political views and walks of life. What all of us have in common is a deep commitment to ensuring justice for Reade, Collin and David and fair and equitable treatment for the rest of the team and Duke students generally both on campus and off. We hope that Duke University can once again be a place of civility and mutual respect among all of its members.

On the Web:
Our site
Professor KC Johnson’s Durham in Wonderland site

Below is the full text of our ad which was published today in The Chronicle.

Some Things to Consider from the Friends of Duke University

In a recent Duke Chronicle article, Group of 88 member Ronen Plesser maintained that the new statement of a group calling itself “Concerned Duke Faculty” would form a “basis for a conversation on campus . . . a conversation that will eventually lead to some understanding.”

Friends of Duke University endorses this conversation. But we also believe that the basis for one aspect of this conversation—the meaning of the Group of 88’s April 6 ad—needs more clarification. In that light, we would like to offer some questions for the “Concerned Duke Faculty.”

Principles of Due Process

  • The April 6 ad explicitly thanked “students speaking individually” and “protestors making collective noise” for not waiting. The fundamental question is what was not worthy of being awaited. Time for reason to assist emotion? Time for evidence to be gathered and assessed? Time for a defense to be made? If you were so attuned to due process, why did you fail to mention it in your April 6 ad?

  • In your recent statement, you stated “We do not endorse every demonstration that took place at the time. We appreciate the efforts of those who used the attention the incident generated to raise issues of discrimination and violence.” Do you or do you not endorse the “potbanging” protest that was widely covered in the media? Could you explain to the University community what criteria you used in the April 6 ad to determine which protests were worthy of your endorsement and which protests merited your disapproval?

  • In your recent statement, you claim to “stand firmly by the principle of the presumption of innocence.” What, then, should readers of the April 6 ad have inferred from your reference to “what happened to this young woman”? Given that she had accused members of the Duke lacrosse team of rape, isn’t that the obvious inference, carrying with it implied guilt of some members of the lacrosse team?

  • Do you believe that Mike Nifong acted properly when he went to the grand jury on April 17 to seek indictments against Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty?

    Statements of Your Fellow Signatories

  • Do you agree with the March 31 Chronicle op-ed of your colleague and fellow signatory, Bill Chafe, who suggested that the whites who lynched Emmett Till provided an appropriate historical context through which to interpret the actions of the lacrosse players?

  • Do you agree with the claim of your colleague and fellow signatory, Karla Holloway, that innocence and guilt have been “assessed through a metric of race and gender. White innocence means black guilt”? If so, which pieces of evidence cited by defenders of the players relate to race and gender?

  • Your colleague and fellow signatory, Alex Rosenberg, told the New York Sun on October 27 that he signed the ad because he was bothered by “affluent kids violating the law to get exploited women to take their clothes off when they could get as much hookup as they wanted from rich and attractive Duke coeds.” Was raising this issue one of the ad’s purposes?

    The University and Its Students

  • Will you document the methodology used to obtain a representative cross section of campus opinion for the “listening” statement?

  • The April 6 ad contains the following anonymous quote from an alleged Duke student: “Being a big, black man, it’s hard to walk anywhere at night, and not have a campus police car slowly drive by me.” Have any of you approached the Duke police force to ask if it has a policy of slowing down when officers see a Black man on campus? Have any of you experienced or observed this phenomenon?

  • In your recent statement, you criticized those who read the April 6 ad “as rendering a judgment in the case.” That ad quoted an anonymous student, who allegedly said, “no one is really talking about how to keep the young woman herself central to this conversation” another anonymous student allegedly said, “If something like this happens to me . . . what would be used against me—my clothing?” Would you agree that these anonymous students appeared to have rendered a judgment in the case?

    Looking Ahead

  • Given that in your new statement you criticized an atmosphere that allowed “sexual violence to be so prevalent on campus,” would you recommend that female students accepted to the Class of 2011 attend Duke? If so, how could you support their entering an environment that you have publicly described as so dangerous?

  • Would you be willing to sign a statement, such as that of the Economics Professors, saying that all students, including lacrosse players and other student-athletes, are welcome in your classes?

    These questions were gathered from comments made on our website, and on Professor KC Johnson’s website. Friends of Duke University does not endorse anonymous e-mails and does not endorse efforts to threaten or harass members of the lacrosse team, or any other Duke University students. Nor do we endorse efforts to threaten or harass signatories to the original Group of 88 Ad or the “Concerned Faculty” statement. We do, however, believe the public statements by faculty members in both instances raise important questions and we support a dialogue about the questions presented in this ad and elsewhere.


    At 5:45 PM, February 08, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i continue to be disappointed in the faculty that uses an incident to promulgate its own is shamful and a violation of public trust for the supposed intellectuals to seem dishonest
    i am sad

    At 8:57 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Begging a question" and "suggeting a question" mean very different things. You use the former, but appear to mean the latter.

    Otherwise, I support your position.

    At 9:08 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Terrific statement. Terrific timing. I hope it has some effect on their little discussion forum set for Monday.

    At 9:25 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    There is NO QUESTION the 88's original Listening Ad was prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. They seized an allegation and made it a "fact". Shame on all of them, now, for not having the courage and grace to admit their inappropriate and utterly unfair acts. Who would you trust to be alone with your daughter? A Duke lacrosse player or the name-calling Duke prof. who referred to the mother of one the three indicted players as the mother of a farm animal?
    God speed, young men. In the end fairness, due process, integrity, and truth will prevail.

    At 9:25 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Excellent statment; very good questions. Let us hope these 88 professors show some decency and answer the questions.

    Duke parent

    At 9:50 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Shortly after the March 13th event there was an Academic Council meeting discussing the lacrosse situation. In addition to this event, the faculty were informed of several other disruptive events attributed directly to unnamed members of the lacrosse team. These events happened on and off campus, involved combinations of drunken behavior, sex, and race. That team seemed out of control. The faculty had to put an end to that situation and Duke's tacit approval of it by inaction. Hence, the suspension of the team and all of Duke's subsequent introspection. Should the faculty have continued to ignore the lacrosse team's behavior?

    At 10:11 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The local Raleigh-Durham news media honed in on the elements of this story as that which they knew would assuredly leap onto the national news wires. They could not resist jumping with wild abandon onto the bandwagon of sensationalist news reporting, casting members of the Duke community as whipping boys for racial outrage. This story wasn't simply reported. This was promoting an agenda, pumping up readership and egos. They learned this in college somewhere.

    At 10:18 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    9:50 poster:

    Yes, they should have until the criminal case was over!

    My prediction is those who spoke out against the team at that critical time (G88) will not be heard from again as soon as the case is over (i.e. they do not really give beans about those social problems at Duke, they only wanted to use the opportunity to attack the lacrosse players. You can my mark my words on that.

    As soon as this case is over, perhaps even before the case is over, all will be declared well and perfect at Duke.

    At 11:18 AM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Why should we believe there are serious race, gender and class problems at Duke? Just because the Gang of 88 said so? I do not think so.

    Did these professors offer any evidence to convince us or to back this ugly claim up? To my best of knowledge, NO. Isn’t this what professors are supposed to do? Teach their students critical thinking and reasoning? Did they offer any proof, statistics, and comparisons to other colleges or to any other part of the society? Did they document any incidences? If they have, I have not seen it or heard about it. It was certainly not in their first despicable ad or in their second embarrassingly shallow ‘clarification.’

    On such an important matter, are we supposed to go with quotes from anonymous people? Why should we? Even the DA of Durham lied when he said he was sure there was a rape on March 13. What should we believe these ugly accusations coming from a bunch or agenda-driven, self-centered professors. Are they lie-proof? Is Lubiano incapable of fabricating those anonymous quotes for her ad? No, I do not think so. After all, these professors are teaching these very subjects (race, gender and class) and stand to gain a great deal if they were to convince the rest of us these problems exist in Duke.

    Where is the proof ladies and gentlemen of the 88? Show us the proof if you have any. I bet you don’t. I bet all this was done for self-promotion. Well, we see what you have promoted yourselves into, in the coming months and years, won’t we?

    Another angry blog hooligan

    At 12:13 PM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thank you FODU and our spokesperson Jason Trumpbour for this thoughtful and very well-written letter to the group of 88. Great ad with great questions.

    Duke07 Mom

    At 12:54 PM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    To the 9:50 poster:

    You write:
    " . . .the faculty were informed of several other disruptive events attributed directly to unnamed members of the lacrosse team . . ."

    By whom were the faculty informed? By the administration? By what means? With specific dates? Or simply by innuendo?

    Look, these are supposed to be professional people. Irrespective of what they were or were not told, subsequent events have proven that the situation was at least grossly micharacterized.

    Now the faculty have been "reinformed" by events. Where is the retraction of their old rhetoric?

    At 12:59 PM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As an alumni, I am extremely concerned about sending my son and/or daughter to a school where a large number of teachers are so willing to attack students without receiving any kind of pressure from the University itself to lay off. It seems this "Group of 88" can say and imply anything they want to about the students and the University Administration is happy to look the other way. As a parent, I do not feel comfortable sending my children into this kind of environment.

    At 3:46 PM, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    After reading the drivel produced by G88 as a group regarding the lacrosse incident, as well as what they have produced individually in pursuit of their chosen fields of study, I am moved to ask "Who is reponsible for hiring these illiterate boobs in the first place?" class of 72

    At 8:22 PM, February 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well done. I can assure you people all over the country are watching this charade unfold, as the agenda driven divisive elites are exposed. The "group of 88" and anyone who thinks like them do almost as much harm to Duke (and this country) as Nifong and the accuser have already done.

    At 10:32 AM, February 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As another Duke alum and parent of 2 high school boys, I completely concur about the concern over sending my kids to a school I have always dreamed of sending my kids to!

    I also resent Duke putting an extra push on all their fund-raising efforts now that this is probably having an impact--I know I've gotten more phone calls since this happened regarding the Annual Fund, etc. than I ever did before (and I graduated about 30 years ago). I told the freshman that called last week that I wasn't going to commit to another donation until this is resolved.

    At 1:44 PM, February 12, 2007, Blogger Thoughts on life said...

    I'm an alum and so are many of my family. Not only have we not gotten extra solicitation -- we have gotten more thoughtful communications without any reference to solicitations. So I really believe you are mischaracterizing the efforts. You went 30 years ago -- so did I -- and both my sons are happy graduates now. The real reason -- I love the verb, not just the noun....PARENT.

    At 3:22 PM, February 12, 2007, Blogger Duke girl said...

    In response to the conveniently anonymous blogger who wrote “The faculty had to put an end to that situation…Should the faculty have continued to ignore the lacrosse team's behavior?” I would like to ask, what kind of moral authority does the faculty claim over the student body at Duke? This statement is quite frankly, cowardly and pathetic. Any organization, fraternity, sorority, or group of people at any given time at Duke can have “disruptive events” directly attributed to them. How nice for you that the lacrosse team was apparently the only group of students who needed to be directly and publicly addressed for disruptive behavior at the exact same time as the rape allegations. And from whom did the Academic Council gather “several” stories of disruption… perhaps more “anonymous” ghost students similar to the ones the group of 88 utilized in their Chronicle ad? Or perhaps it came from certain faulty members’ superior intuition of what is really happening at Duke, a superiority that obviously cannot be debated, disproved, or argued against. To the group of 88, you are Duke Faculty… not judges, not psychics, not criminal investigators… and you should be ashamed of the ignorant moral judgments you made in March, and even more ashamed that you are too proud and arrogant to apologize for those judgments now.

    At 5:20 PM, February 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Jason, you are a gifted writer and in a eloquent manner you highlight many questions that need to be answered. Thank you for staying the course over these many months.

    My cynic side fears that the questions will never be answered by these cowards. Since when is the faculty in charge of student discipline? Will this same Council discipline the basketball team who had strippers at a party 2 weeks before lax party?

    Only when Brodhead resigns will new leadership address the festering blight of "rush to judgment" by the Group of 88 and the damage it is doing to Duke's reputation.


    At 2:01 PM, February 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As an Duke alumnus, employee and parent of a Duke alumnus who has lived in Durham for over 25 years I have now changed my opinion of the Durham Police Department. I used to support all aspects of law enforcement; I believed that their purpose was to "Protect and Serve." No longer do I harbor that illusion. IF the DPD wants to talk to me, I request a lawyer. If they want to come into my house, get a warrant. I don't want to be involved with this corrupt organization.

    At 12:59 AM, February 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The "Group of 88" has often used the term "metanarrative" to describe what they believe is a history of "white male sexism, racism, everyotherism" -- in short, a tale of "white male oppression of women and people of color".

    The purpose of the "Listening" ad was to link the 88's metanarrative to the dancer's "micronarrative", in the hope that each would strengthen the other.

    It really didn't matter to the 88 if the micronarrative was false -- if the "white boys" could be convicted of SOMEthing sometime somewhere against someone, that would serve the metanarrative.

    That the micronarrative is false is now known beyond any reasonable doubt. But the metanarrative that gave rise to it is still the dominant philosophy at Duke and at campuses across America. And it is just as false.

    So long as this false metanarrative -- a metamyth -- is permitted to dominate Duke and America, more and more false micronarratives and false prosecutions will be facilitated.

    The false micronarratives are the mosquitos; we must do what we can to drain the swamp.

    At 12:03 PM, April 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well, we now know this - if the Duke environment is a 'dangerous' one for any particular ethnic group, it most certainly is young white males who are not poor. If you meet this criteria, accusations of rape leveled against you, will be presumed accurate, by the faculty, the police, and by the district attorney. If you are white male, and you aren't on welfare - you may have your life destroyed, accompanied by the sound of applause. It's a dangerous place for young white males, that's for sure.

    At 12:17 PM, April 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The Duke fiasco certainly epitomizes the need to address the following social issues:

    1) Racial Prejuduce - Because the boys were white, and the accuser was black, all those who supported the accuser assumed them to be guilty - it fit neatly into the social model of enlightened liberalism.

    2) Class Prejuduce - Because the boys were not poor, and the accuser was on welfare, all those who supported the accuser assumed them to be guilty - it fit neatly into the social model of enlightened liberalism.

    3) Sexism - Because these were young men, who have been socialized by an immoral sexist society, the accusations against them fit neatly into the social model of enlightened liberalism.

    How many times did we hear the words "affluent", "privledged", "entitlement", etc. to describe the young men ? The componenets of this fiasco, fit so neatly into the perception of society held by 'enlightened' liberals, that they wanted this story to be true, because it substantiated a world-view they have been teaching about for over 30 years now. But the facts never really work in their favor - for example, the notion that white men raping black women is an everyday occurence, is simply bullshit - the statistics show that white women are the victims of rape by black men in something like 70% of rape cases. The liberals think we are still living under slavery, when we are not. Why is it so hard for them to admit they were wrong ? Because if they do, it's an admission that their world-view may not be the case afterall.

    At 1:38 PM, April 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I want to know why nobody has a word of critisism to say about the hoaxter ? Where is all the concern for victims of false allegations, and where is all the condemnation against a the kind of person who levels false charges against innocent men ? Is there not one bad word to be said about this woman - whose name is Crystal Gayle Mangum, a name we do not hear often enough. Why should her life not be destroyed, now that we know for a fact that she is GUILTY of making false accusations ? Everybody is being so careful not to condemn her - well, she deserves to have her life destroyed. Unlike the young men she accused, she is actually GUILTY. Crysal Gayle Mangum.

    At 1:28 AM, April 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Every year the incoming class should receive précis of the 88 statement and its context in no more then 10 sentences and the names of faculty. Any of the 88 that has apologized for their role should be duly noted. This will help protect incoming students from the 88’s toxic views of society. The 88 are counting on their statement being forgotten; “those who can not remember history are doomed to repeat it”.

    At 4:06 AM, April 21, 2007, Blogger GaryB said...

    What gets me are even recently articles such as the editorial in the Boston Globe that says that while the players may have been "louts"...

    Reading about the players it seems to be just the opposite -- they were more virtuous than the general population in terms of community involvement etc. I wonder how the private lives of the group of 88 or of the various editors or reporters would stack up against the private lives of the team?

    Such press and the group of 88 Duke dupes make it so hard to be a liberal which I am ... with a big "L" -- for Civil Liberties, freedom etc.

    At 7:51 PM, June 18, 2007, Blogger wendel said...

    Take note of the departments at the end of the 88 Einsteins ad. You may note that most all of these departments are the guys that award FUDs ( Flabby and Useless Degrees) awarded by intellectually flabby and useless groups of wacko left wing so called professors. DUKE, HOW DID YOU FIND SO MANY LOW BUDGET INTELLECTS? DUKE, YOU SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED. YOU HIRED THEM , ENJOY! THEIR PULICATION IS MAKING DUKE WORLD FAMOUS!

    At 4:44 PM, September 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    To read much more about the group of 88 click here.


    Post a Comment

    << Home