Another Reason to Be Disappointed in the Duke Administration

As if bowing to the wave of political correctness and abandoning their students to the public lynch mob last year were not enough, Duke University officialdom remains more or less unrepentant. The day after the charges against the Duke Three were dismissed, I received the following email from the Chairman of Duke’s Board of Trustees (I am a Duke alumnus):

Dear Member of the Duke University Community,

I write to you on behalf of the Trustees of Duke University.

Today the North Carolina State Attorney General announced that all remaining
charges against David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann have been
dropped and should never have been brought. This announcement explicitly and
unequivocally establishes the innocence of David, Collin and Reade, who with
their families have suffered an unimaginable year of accusation and public
scrutiny. They deserve our respect for the honorable way they have conducted
themselves during this long legal ordeal that ends with their exoneration.

The Attorney General determined that there was no credible evidence to support
the charges that were brought, with so many statements of certainty, by the
Durham District Attorney last spring. Many have suffered from his actions,
these three students and their families most of all. The Attorney General’s
investigation places responsibility for this miscarriage of justice with the
District Attorney, and we now look to the proceedings of the state bar to call
him to account before his peers.

Much as we wish that these three young men, their teammates and their families
and indeed the whole community of people who love Duke could have been spared
the agony of the past year, we believe that it was essential for the
University to defer to the criminal justice system. As imperfect and flawed as
it may be, it is that process that brings us today to this resolution.

Throughout the past year President Richard Brodhead consulted regularly with
the trustees and has had our continuing support. He made considered and
thoughtful decisions in a volatile and uncertain situation. Each step of the
way, the board agreed with the principles that he established and the actions
he took. As we look back and with the benefit of what we now know there is no
question that there are some things that might have been done differently.
However, anyone critical of President Brodhead should be similarly critical of
the entire board.

In closing, we express our relief for today’s outcome and recognize the
character that our three students, their teammates and all of their families
have shown over the past year. Furthermore, we hope that the resolution of
this unfair, divisive and painful episode can serve to unite us all. There is
much to learn from the events that we have lived through, and we intend to put
this learning to use. Duke is a great university that steps up to challenges
and opportunities, and together we will use this moment to make our community
stronger.

Robert K. Steel, Chair, Duke University Board of Trustees

So Mr. Steel and his colleagues wish this whole episode had not happened, and that the three young men are people of character. But where is the apology? Why not say “we’re sorry?” For throwing you to the media wolves. For the fact that our faculty bought into the portrayal of you as hooligans, and as a team out of control? For not doing the right thing, standing up and saying that our students are innocent until proven guilty, and until and unless guilt is proved in a court of law we stand behind them? Why not? Probably because that would take at least a small measure of courage. A lot of splainin’ to do, indeed.

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