Other ADC events, however, have not proved as encouraging, most notably the Charlotte gathering--at which, for reasons that remain unclear, the administration invited the radically anti-lacrosse Duke student Chauncey Nartey to represent the student body, even though the fraternity of which Nartey was president had recently been suspended.
DIW reader "Chicago" attended the Windy City event earlier this week, and was kind enough to write up a summary, which is below.
At the strike of 4:30pm Wednesday, I hopped on a train after work and headed downtown
for “A Duke Conversation” at the Lyric Opera House. I had never been in the Lyric Opera House despite passing it hundreds of times. The building is massive, elegant and pristine on the inside. The main course, served buffet style, was filet mignon, salmon and the best chicken I have ever had. Chicago
When I got there I spoke to an Asian-American couple who had a freshman at Duke. They told me they loved the fact their son was at Duke and that his decision came down to
Washington Universityin and Duke. His mother visited St. Louis with him and his father visited Duke with him. After visiting Duke, the young man made up his mind. “What did it come down to?” I asked. “School spirit,” replied his father; he wanted a full college experience as an undergrad. Since the young man made his decision last spring, right around the time the hoax started, his father told me the incident had no effect on his decision, nor did it concern his parents. His parents explained to me that they knew college students drank and partied a bit. Washington
After dinner we moved from the Opera House’s main room to a smaller auditorium type room that had a stage and was set up like a lecture hall.
Richard Brodhead opened the night with a statement of about 10-15 minutes after taking the stage to a very mild applause from the crowd of approximately 300. After a few jokes and an explanation of his love for
, Brodhead explained the agenda for the evening. Chicago
From there, Brodhead described this past year at Duke as a “most troubling year” and referred to the hoax as “this situation” in an assuming manner. Brodhead went on to make mention that it was one year ago today (
April 18, 2006) that the first two indictments were unsealed. At this point Brodhead stated that “the only process of exoneration was the legal process.” One thing Brodhead did note that I found interesting was that of all the athletic teams at Duke, the Men’s Lacrosse Team was the group that the children at the Ronald McDonald House enjoyed spending time with the most. From there, Brodhead made a very standard statement about the Virginia Tech shooting. Brodhead ended his opening remarks by mentioning that the school has raised 220 million dollars of the 300 million they hope to raise in providing financial aid for students. Brodhead also mentioned the new pavilion and library on campus.
The professor who spoke was Bruce Jentleson of the Public Policy and Political Science Department. Currently Jentleson is on sabbatical at
Oxfordin . Jentleson’s speech focused on “fostering a global generation,” and he spoke of the importance of globalizing. Jentleson mentioned two points that were vital for colleges to focus on: being competitive and making sure everyone is comfortable. He stated Duke needs to compete with students in the world and not just other schools in the England . Jentleson mentioned the “Duke Engage” initiative and stated that there are many tangible benefits career wise by being world-class. He encouraged people who studied worldwide to not “stay at the Hilton and find the McDonald’s”, but to experience the culture of different places. Jentleson ended by stating that very few countries are homogeneous in terms of ethnicity. US
The two students who traveled with Brodhead were Bronwyn Lewis of
Marylandand Jimmy Soni of . Both students were very impressive as Brodhead asked them questions about their experiences at Duke before the audience. Soni was especially impressive. During this portion of the evening, Brodhead seemed very relaxed, engaging and even rather comical. I was surprised he interacted so well with the students and it helped me understand why he initially might have seemed like a good choice as President by the Board. After four questions each, Brodhead opened up the conversation to the audience who could address any of the four on stage: Jentleson, Brodhead, Soni or Lewis. Here is where things got interesting. Westmont, IL
The first question came from a gentleman who was none too pleased with Brodhead. I found it appropriate that in an abrasive city like
, there were no softballs to start, and the tough questions came out of the gates like fastballs. Brodhead, who was very relaxed going into the segment, immediately tensed up; you could see his anxiety as the man asked Brodhead how he allowed the hoax to reach the point it did, with professors slandering the players. Jimmy Soni suddenly looked very embarrassed and uncomfortable sitting with the group onstage; he was looking down and away and had his hand on his chin, as if he would rather have been anywhere but there at the moment. Brodhead started to answer and stuttered more than I have ever heard him do so. Brodhead characterized his actions as an “ethics issue” and went on to say that he “had to appeal to the legal process at a time in which he had very limited information and information he took to be true at the time.” Brodhead went on to contradict himself by stating that Duke always “championed innocence.” Chicago
In terms of addressing the Group of 88, Brodhead did what any good politician would do: he didn’t answer the question. The next question came in two parts: the first was directed at Bronwyn Lewis, who had unintentionally made a very telling statement in her Q&A with Brodhead while discussing her upcoming studies abroad in
. Lewis stated this summer she will be studying the idea that “When corruption occurs in government, many follow suit and only some will not.” Lewis was asked to expand on that concept as it related to the hoax last spring, with Jim Coleman cited as an example of someone who did not follow suit in the corruption. Lewis likewise did what any good politician would do; she did not answer the question. Instead, she went on to give her own account of the events and what it was like being on campus during that time. Denmark
The question for Brodhead was specific: how he planned to deal with the slanderous comments of the Group of 88. Brodhead used another successful political strategy to this very direct question; he delegated it to Bruce Jentleson, a professor who has not been on campus this entire school year. Jentleson responded that the University “had to function as a University” and keep going.
When the floor returned to Brodhead, he stated that “people characterizing what the Group of 88 did were doing the same thing that people were doing to the Duke team last spring in convicting all of them by association.” Brodhead called the Group “interchangeable and all different,” despite the fact they all signed their name to the same statement and the question was regarding that specific statement. Brodhead’s only other comment that touched upon the issue was that the Group of 88 “signed a petition defending students who as minorities, felt threatened by the situation.”
At no point did Brodhead touch upon how Duke has dealt with the slanderous actions of the Group of 88, nor did he discuss how such rushes to judgment by faculty could be prevented in the future. Jimmy Soni then made a comment that, for the sake of discussion I found impressive. Soni stated that, “If Dukies start attacking each other, then Nifong wins.” It’s a shame the Group of 88 hadn’t been “listening” to Soni last spring.
Brodhead closed by stating he was from Yale and they “have a different type of approach to sports” and that he was not opposed to a more solid emphasis on athletics as long as a university “does sports the right way.”
From there, the lacrosse incident was not discussed. The questions included discussions on issues such as the architectural changes to Central Campus, Fine Arts at Duke, the future of the football program at Duke, and emphasizing Duke as more than a “basketball school.”
A parent of a current men’s lacrosse player summed up the evening best as she left wearing her son’s Duke Lacrosse jacket. “He (Brodhead) just doesn’t get it,” she said. I found that to be the most direct comment of the entire evening.