Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Today's News

The incomparable Kristin Butler takes aim at the Campus Culture Initiative in her column today. As she notes, the CCI process “has been an unmitigated disaster.” Indeed, she notes, the “CCI has become a caricature of University governance, populated by agenda-driven individuals, operating under cover of secrecy and lacking meaningful student input or support.”

Its problems?

1) The initial announcement of the CCI, by President Brodhead on April 5, was intimately linked to the lacrosse case.

2) The “committee's highly controversial membership was . . . poorly considered”—i.e., putting the CCI in the hands of Group of 88 leaders and Peter Wood ensured an “agenda-driven” result.

3) Student opinion appeared to be deliberately excluded—as seen in SG president Elliot Wolf’s public dissent.

4) The CCI operated in secrecy, and relied on secret data to justify its conclusions.

Butler presents an argument that has also crossed my mind: “It is hard not to wonder whether President Brodhead intentionally stocked the committee with voices sure to be considered illegitimate by many in the Duke community.” And, as Butler points out, the University community has lost out on the much-needed “frank discussion that Brodhead promised us all last spring—a discussion that risked presidential credibility and challenged false illusions in the hope of making this campus stronger.”

Two other items in papers today: Jackie MacMullen has a sympathetic portrait of former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, now at Bryant. She laments, “A respected university rushed to judgment, and shattered the world of a group of student-athletes and a respected coach in the process.”

And the BG News (the campus newspaper at Bowling Green) has a major scoop: “Prosecutor is Cleared in Duke Rape Case.” The headline misinterprets the brief filed by Mike Nifong’s lawyers for a judgment of the Disciplinary Hearing Commission.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

JLS says.....

Nifong cleared by his own attorney has to be one of the most creative headlines in this case. I wonder if the BGSU studenet paper similarly headlined Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann CLEARED when their attorneys filed briefs?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Bowling Green article is factual; it's the nimrod who wrote the headline for it that has it wrong.

“Prosecutor is Cleared in Duke Rape Case.”

Not in this lifetime!

Anonymous said...

early days...
Nifong, potbangers, Gang of 88: "It happened."
Brodhead: "Nifong said it happened, so it happened."

many: later (and to this day)...
"Grrrr. Something happened."

still later...
Gang of 88, Brodhead : "Okay, say nothing happened, so what? We never said it did."
Wahneema, Chan Hall, etc.:"Besides, it happened whether it happened or not."
Karla Holloway: "I am too tired to stop it from happening again."

later...
CCI: "It happens. Happen-zuh. All the time."

Anonymous said...

Remember - and tremble: the headline writer at Bowling Green will probably be filling the same position soon at the NYT or WaPo.

bill anderson said...

I really am impressed with Kristin Butler and the maturity with which she writes. It is obvious that she is more mature -- and a better writer -- than most members of the G88. And she is more honest, but given the lack of honesty we have seen from some Duke administration people and faculty members, I suspect that most Duke students fall into the "more honest" category.

However, I see that Ms. Butler is intelligent, insightful, and makes very good points. I don't know what she is choosing for a career, but whatever it is, she will do well.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Ms. Butler, you could even call it a "social disaster." I'm sure you and so many of us who care about Duke, are indeed, er, listening. sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...

Making a Difference: The Strategic Plan for Duke University

The Campus Culture Initiative, launched in April 2006, will help us develop a clear vision of the values and behaviors that should guide Duke students in their relations with others. We will examine educational practices inside and outside the classroom; evaluate the ways students develop personal responsibility, social responsibility, and civic engagement; and assess how students relate to each other and other members of the campus and community across bounds of race, gender and other social divisions.
In the course of our work, we will support and align curricular and co-curricular opportunities, including programs in residential and social life, to help students gain greater perspective on their actions and to foster greater empathy for others.



The CCI didn't even do what it was supposed to do, as set out above and in the charge given it. The report produced was of shamefully poor quality, aside from being a transparent attempt to further a preconceived agenda.


In this same Strategic Plan, it is clear the development of Central Campus is going to present an irresistible set of opportunities to the G88 and their ilk. The CCI report, along with events of the past year sound a clear warning that there are many who will act against what is right and attempt to have their way with everyone else through shouting, to the point it is very hard to listen to reason, dissenting opinions, common sense, etc.

One hopes Duke has learned from events of the past year -- if not, there is ample opportunity for things to get much worse.

largenfirm said...

The headline has been changed.

Anonymous said...

This headline is right up there with "Dewet defeats Truman" I think it was from the NYT - anyone know for sure?

Nifong's hat trick said...

Coach Pressler states this about his resignation:
"I felt if I was allowed to continue, I could solve any problems," he said. "... Anytime I'd been aware of something, I took care of it," he said. "But the administration felt that wasn't going to be the case. For me to buck, that would not be in the best interest of those 47 kids and all the alumni. Take a bullet? I'd do it again."

WRAL notes that; "In fact, a university committee studied the culture of the lacrosse team and found that Pressler disciplined players whenever he knew about a problem. It also found that many times other campus departments did not alert the coach to problems.
The coach's attorney is quoted as saying Pressler was the "sacrificial lamb."

If the group of 88 & Brodhead "stand fimly by the principle of presumption of innocence", why was Coach Pressler's resignation accepted?

Does Brodhead & the group of 88 find justice in Pressler's harsh punishment of losing his job, his team, uprooting his family, having his name shamed and character slandered? And they complain about hurtful alleged racist emails...please!

Brodhead and the group of 88 talk about a campus culture that screams racism and sexism. If this is true, and they've known this to be true, why was Coach Pressler the only one to lose his job over it? Why is he held to a hire standard than the group of 88? Why was it Coach Presslers responsibility to do something about the sexist racist campus culture, but not the responsibility of the group of 88 professors who all claim they knew about this campus culture that exists at Duke?

The group of 88 does not want to be held accountable for things they may have said through their Ad campaign, but they have no problem holding Coach Pressler accountable for the falsely alleged actions of the Lacrosse members at an off campus party?

Coach Pressler certainly was the sacrificial lamb, as were Evans, Finnerty & Seligman & the entire Duke Lacrosse team.

Gary Packwood said...

Rank and File vs. Elite Rank and Vile

Yes, BlueDevil55 over on the FODU Board also recommended reading Kristin Butler's column today in the Chronicle.

Kristin, a Trinity Junior, has latched onto a central point that was ignored by the writers we have been discussing with respect to March Madness 1,2 and 3.

Old labor union history should have taught us that if you want change or reform you will need to engage the Rank and File or ...nothing positive is going to happen.

Kristin has taken a central position for the CCI advocating for input from the Rank and File, the students, as it were, concerning change and reform as per the CCI on Duke's campus.

Early attempts at reform from labor unions focused on the LEADERSHIP of the Rank and File and not the overall membership of the Rank and File ...itself. Those early failures should have taught the intellectual community a lesson. Guess Not!

But Kristin knows!

The writers we have been discussing appealed to the Elite Rank and Vile community...and not the Rank and File. That would be especially true for Duke's own faculty who have penned articles about the student culture of sexism and racism without talking directly to the students themselves about their own culture.

After reading Kristin's article it occurred to me that the Duke's G88 should have identified sexism as the root source issue on campus and then pulled that issue across the consciousness of Duke's students and employees who are support staff just to see if they had a product that was going to sell.

They didn't do that of course, and Mike Nifong was their first customers to purchase their brand new 2007 Edsel that he... can't give back.

Thanks Kristin for your ability to think clearly. You should be sitting next to the General Motors CEO this year when he delivers his address to the Duke Class of 2007.

He knows also.

Anonymous said...

1:55
It was the Chicago Tribune, and there is a famous photo of the victorious Truman holding it over his head, wearing an ear-to-ear grin.

Anonymous said...

No one is going to accuse Neal, Baker, Barber or Cash of being Denzel Washington. How come these guys are so obese?

duke09parent said...

“It is hard not to wonder whether President Brodhead intentionally stocked the committee with voices sure to be considered illegitimate by many in the Duke community.”

I concluded that some time ago. If you have misanthropic gripers in your organization, appoint them to a committee to study the problems they see and when they report, tell everyone we will consider their recommendations. Then you can do whatever the hell you want anyway. The gripers are mollified. You can hope that they will be so unhappy at being ignored that they will leave. But it's usually a vain hope.

Anonymous said...

I live in Ohio. I’ve sent two messages to the Bowling Green “news” paper / website commenting on their absolutely, ridiculously incorrect headline.

Their response? No response, and as a matter of fact, let’s eliminate the link.

And people wonder why they can’t trust American media? For Christ’s sake, do these people have the slightest inkling of what responsibility is? There was a time when Americans, albeit naively, trusted what they read in the “respectable” media to be at least somewhat factual.

Between a government that lies to us with total impunity and a media too damn lazy and incompetent to care it’s no wonder wide-spread cynicism is rampant. Thank God for bloggers; it’s probably too late to matter, but at least there’s slight hope.

- Richard

Anonymous said...

I live in Ohio. I’ve sent two messages to the Bowling Green “news” paper / website commenting on their absolutely, ridiculously incorrect headline.

Their response? No response, and as a matter of fact, let’s eliminate the link.

And people wonder why they can’t trust American media? For Christ’s sake, do these people have the slightest inkling of what responsibility is? There was a time when Americans, albeit naively, trusted what they read in the “respectable” media to be at least somewhat factual.

Between a government that lies to us with total impunity and a media too damn lazy and incompetent to care it’s no wonder wide-spread cynicism is rampant. Thank God for bloggers; it’s probably too late to matter, but at least there’s slight hope.

- Richard

Just me said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Today the N&O ran an article on the State Bar's response to Nifong. What was interesting about it is that it referred to CGM as an "escort service dancer" rather than "the victim" -- a subtle change, but a change nonetheless.

See http://www.newsobserver.com/1185/story/555515.html

Mike in Nevada

Anonymous said...

Wow - the N&O is coming along. Do they offer any explanation as to how one in the "escort" business gets that much DNA in and on them? Do they believe the DNA report? Can they, over time, be persuaded to accept the truth of what Ms. Mangum does for a living? Are they aware of her arrest record? Do they even read this blog? Another year or two they might even become convinced that "nothing" happened. Wow...

Anonymous said...

Well written article. I would be curious to see a copy of the email she refers to (April 5 Brodhead email). I would also be interested in the data that supports the comment that the majority of the student body are against the CCI recomendations ("Today, its conclusions are widely seen as illegitimate by students"). It would seem Brodhead is really the 89th member of the G88. I am also curious to the general feelings of the Duke students to the G88, as this blog slanted against them (as am I), or is the outcry less on campus than in this blog? I am so appalled at the egregious conduct by these professors, that I am hoping that disdain for them extends into the Duke student body arena.

BDay

Nifong's hat trick said...

One of KC's articles makes note of Houston Baker, professor of English and Afro-American Studies complaining about "...college and university blind-eying of male athletes, veritably given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves in the bargain,” Baker issued a public letter denouncing the “abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us.” To act against “violent, white, male, athletic privilege,” he urged the “immediate dismissals” of “the team itself and its players.”

Durham crime statistics do not support Houston Baker's claims:
From Fedstats 2007 Durham's crime stats report arrests for:

drunkenness = 0
sexual offenses = 5

Rapes are listed as 27, but that's minus the Nifong Factor which would be sure to lower the number by the number of cases he prosecuted.

It states the total Durham population as 221,436

http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/arrests/county/37063.html

Does anyone else find it odd that with black on white crime statistically much higher,there would be 3 rare cases of white rape against black all on the same night?

And what about 3 rapists on one Lacrosse team? What are the odds? This is all such BS and it's maddening that nobody is doing anything about dropping the charges against these 3 boys. What are they waiting for?

Gary Packwood said...

BDay 9:46 said...

...I am so appalled at the egregious conduct by these professors, that I am hoping that disdain for them extends into the Duke student body arena.

I have a different thought about this from my experience gained from college teaching for 13 years.

I entered the world of college teaching as a professor after a career in health care administration. My first month at the university I mentioned in passing to the Dean that the graduate faculty would be volunteering to help advise the undergraduate students the following day because of a weather problem we were having.

The Dean said ...YIKES!!!!!

I learned that day from the Dean that undergraduate teaching and advising requires special skill sets and a commitment to work with youngsters.

After about two years, I could see what the Dean was talking about. Understanding communication redundancy, desire to make eye contact and the ability to engage the student in a two way conversation is just extremely important.

I think Kristin is telling herself and us that there are very few undergraduate professors or administrators who have the skill sets that we would expect to see in faculty who work with undergraduate students...regularly.

If that is true...a vacuum is functioning on campus that allows the G88 and their staff minions to grab a great deal of power and influence.

Kristin is expressing disdain for the lack of faculty who wish to work well ...with undergraduates, I feel.

jamil hussein said...

Any news about the grade retaliation lawsuit? Has Duke launched an investigation or is it fair to assume that Duke/Brodhead does not care about serious allegations like this?

Any decent school or company would have issued a strong statement promising full investigation and making sure that grade retaliation (or racist rants and attacks) against students will not be tolerated.

Anonymous said...

Gary,
I agree with you that Kristen is expressing her contempt. I am interested, however, if in fact this is a feeling of a large component of the student body. In other words, is Kristen's opinion that shared by many other undergraduates?

Thanks,
BDay

Anonymous said...

Pressler is one of many who are going to write books, sue people, and end up rich when this is all over.

And most of the money will come from Duke University and Durham.

Nifong and Brodhead are about equally culpable.

Anonymous said...

Brodhead deserves criticism, but he can't be compared to Nifong, who abused his prosecutorial powers and repeatedly violated the civil rights of the lacrosse players.

Anonymous said...

K.C.

Watch the the Coach K interview on Costas live on HBO. There is an extendid dialogue on the lax matter. Coach K at one point states he offered Brodhead his assistance, but the offer was not acted upon.

It is not an unreasonable conclusion that Brodhead was predisposed to the outcomes of the CCI and stacked the initiative accordingly. A prominent voice such as Coach K, who's views on the role of athletics at Duke are much different, and more credible and balanced, than the CCI crowd was shut out.

Anonymous said...

The CCI is a joke to me. Why? Because I am Duke non-faculty staff. So what? Well, the CCI engaged in three "townhall meetings" - one for students, one for faculty, and one for staff - to discuss undergraduate culture. It was nice to be included, but I have no problem with the thought that students and undergrad faculty are more important to their "culture" than staff. But the irony is that the staff townhall mtg was very well attended. Perhaps 120 or more attendees, while it has been reported that the student turnout to their meeting was small, and the faculty even smaller. Maybe 20ish. Not sure. And the irony continues, because the staff were overwhelmingly supportive of students, glowing even. The reason the CCI is a joke to me is that the three CCI representatives: Robert Thompson, Chair; Eliott Wolfe, Student body PRez; and one other (sorry I don't remember the name), DID NOT TAKE NOTES. It was a lesson in condescension as they would hand a microphone over to a staffer and then listen with boredom as we made our comments. Additionally it was a lesson in Ivory-tower-ism as Thompson would respond to a comment and simply go on and on. Handing us his wisdom from the mount. What an academic windbag. (All this after his 20 minute intro that was also ivory towerism at its finest). This was our forum, SHUT UP, LISTEN, AND TAKE NOTES. Otherwise don't even have a staff townhall meeting. If we aren't important, fine, just don't pretend about it. Waste of our time. Wolfe has been receiving some compliments lately, for his response to the CCI, but I wasn't overly impressed with his condescension either.
I hope it is obvious why I sign this anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Re: the way the 88 are viewed on campus

The Real SOcial Disaster facebook group which is loudly demanding an apology from the 88 has, at current count 1,188 members.

Anonymous said...

Re above: 1188 students represent 20 percent of the undergraduates at Duke.