Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The State of Things

by Jason Trumpbour, FODU spokesperson

ATAF Fundraiser

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.

Roy Cooper

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.
Roy Cooper, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead did all these things and what a difference it made. Not only was justice done, but the way they conducted the investigation and the transparency with which they shared its results ensured that everyone, aside from a handful of narrow minded ideologues, would accept their findings. I am also grateful to Attorney General Cooper for going one step further and stating his conclusion that Reade, Collin and David were completely innocent. That he felt compelled to do so shows that he truly is a man of integrity.

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.

Final Fours

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.


At 1:42 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hope you are truly not folding up and going away because this site gives a voice to those who feel intimidated to speak up.the issues may not be as urgent or as injurious as putting innocent poeple on trial or in jail.the daily railroading from the ultraleft,the social engineering,the working 20 % railroaded to care for thepersonally irresponsible 80%continues
please let us expand this site to demanding accountability at least in Duke and Durham.i feel afraid that we will be thrown to the wolvesonce you leave and some others will be falsely accused for something else

At 1:58 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Jason, for this wonderful post! It is good to know that FODU is not going away. We appreciate very much what your team has done over the last year, but there is more work to be done. Please let those of us in the Duke community know in which way we can help. We are ready to join hands with you and work for the betterment of the Duke community.

I am also glad to hear that you met and talked with the former defendants and their families. Through your words, I feel as if I met them too. Yes, indeed they seem to be wonderful individuals.

Duke Friend

At 2:59 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for a terrific post! How right you are when you say:

Hopefully, the administration will engage in some self reflection and soul searching so that, if the past cannot be changed, the future will.

I hope the administration follows your advice and conducts a real soul search, for the good of the University -- if not for their own peace of mind.

At 3:20 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

I could not have said it better myself.

Thank you Jason for your endless wisdom and leadership when we needed it the most.

At 4:39 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roy Cooper totally ignored the Durham Police Dept thugs, the false affidavits, the magical notes, the players as Fillers right out of the gate, etc.

I don't think any of us would be happy with an Police investigation of this quality with one of our children being the target. I doubt any of us would have confidence that this (intact) Police team would follow the law, make good decisions, and ignore the political atmosphere.

The DPD is an embarrassement.

Having said all that, I applaud Jason's efforts, will, and determination.

At 4:47 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are very timely and wise comments. Thank you Jason, for helping us put things in perspective.

At 4:59 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! Good luck to both the men's and women's teams this weekend.

At 5:48 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason, you said:

“I now pass their thanks on to all of you and offer you their worthy lives rescued from ruin as reward.”

Thank you. This is the greatest reward we could ever hope for. Thank you a million times for sharing those happy moments with us. This is what we had hoped for all along. And, it has finally happened. Gad bless everyone who lent a helping hand in this saga.

Duke Mom

At 6:08 PM, May 22, 2007, Blogger Gary Packwood said...

Jason Trumpbour said...

...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.
I'll bet you can count on your fingers all the true enablers at Duke and ...that number is tiny when you look at the total number of people who work at Duke...and smaller yet when you count the students.

Why not focus on future wins?

For example, there is the potential for a World class program at Duke with the new DukeEngage initiative which needs everyone's help as it sputters into life.

I suggest that you help the faculty and students write the Book of Counted Victories for Duke and then ask the Board of Trustees why they persist in helping write the Book of Counted Sorrows.

At 7:06 PM, May 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“I now pass their thanks on to all of you and offer you their worthy lives rescued from ruin as reward.”

This is one terrific statement! Could we ask for anything better? Thank you Jason for sharing.

At 9:37 AM, May 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jason and the FODU, for always taking the high road and believing in us when the rest of the world was insane!

At 10:32 AM, May 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I am glad to hear that 2006 lax seniors finally got their dinner. Now, they may begin to move forward with their lives and, as Jason already indicated, they are better and stronger men today than a year ago.

Good luck to each and every one of them.

At 6:31 AM, May 24, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Throughout this ordeal, you have been a voice of logic, reason, and most importantly, hope. Your children will benefit from your wisdom and positive spirit-I know all of the Duke lacrosse families have. From all of us, thank you !
ER Doc 1

At 11:46 AM, May 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just read William Anderson's article on this pathetic scenario. Thank you Mr Anderson. I have not passionately watched this case. Other priorities like making a living have preempted.
While Mr Nifong is the most dramatic symbol of cultural corruption here; he deserves only "tip of the iceberg" recognition. The underlying police, Duke administration and the social malaise around us are core problems.
This whole sham smacked of farce & fraud from the onset. Chalking it up to "PC" sensibilities is too mild a condemnation. It strikes me that world problems, Iraq, etc should be a distinctly secondary priorities to dealing with these things at home.

I've never been a redneck, but am thinking of converting.
Not so anonymously yours, Brent Mikesell

At 10:49 AM, June 07, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the best and most intelligent commentaries I read on the aftermath of this disaster. Thank you Jason, for your thoughts and insights. You make Duke proud and those associated with Duke.

At 9:26 PM, June 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very smart comments. It is always a pleaseure to hear from Jason T. Keep up the good work please and thank you.


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