The Duke University Administration and Faculty Have a Lot of ‘Splainin to Do

By now, if you are reading this post, you know that all of the charges against the three Duke University Lacrosse players indicted for rape and other alleged misdeeds have been dismissed, and that none other than the Attorney General of the State of North Carolina have pronounced the Duke Three innocent. The legal case – or at least the criminal phase of the case – is over. To me, the huge looming question at this point is what Duke University will do. Last spring, in the initial aftermath of the purported incident that gave rise to the indictments, the Duke officialdom did very little to distinguish itself or of which to be prod. Read more below the fold

Duke’s President, Richard Brodhead, wasted little time aligning himself with the local rabble rousers, who were only too happy to assume the players’ guilt. His multiple acts of self flagellation were little better than embarrassing. Before all of the facts were in, and based on flimsy evidence, he dispatched lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, who had spent 16 years building a program, and who had been nothing but a loyal and productive faculty member. There were segments of the faculty and the student body whose performance was equally appalling. They wrote letters, took out ads, joined protests and banged pits and pans, decrying racism, sexism, lookism and virtually any other “ism” that came to mind. Not that I support any of those “isms.” But the impulse to find the evils of “ism” in any event was on full display, and it was very troubling to me, and to many, many other Duke alumni. The common denominator in all of these activities – especially among the faculty – was the presumption of the Duke Three’s guilt. There was no need to wait for the facts. These boys were, well, male, athletes, and presumed privileged. The purported victim was black. They were guilty, that’s all there was to it. The presumption of innocence went out the window at Duke last spring, at least in the faculty lounge and in the Allen Building. The boys were guilty, why wait for the facts? Only problem was, as North Carolina’s Attorney General said today, they weren’t guilty. They were innocent. The spectacle of an administration and the faculty, or at least a portion of it, rushing to judgment of their own students, was at the very least alarming. If anyone ought to have been showing more evenhandedness, it should have been those in authority in the community of which the accused were a part. Instead, those leaders stumbled over themselves to throw these boys to the wolves, all to sate the appetite of a politically correct media, and a local community egged on by dubious “leaders.” Richard Brodhead, and the Duke faculty, should be ashamed. They owe the three lacrosse players an apology, and they owe an explanation to the wider Duke community, and to the public. But I’m not holding my breath.

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