Saturday, April 07, 2007
Rewarding Dubious Behavior
In higher education today, one important theme is assessment and accountability. Over the past year at Duke, however, accountability has been in short supply. Indeed, it seems as if figures whose behavior was worthy of condemnation have instead been rewarded.
1.) Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta. Widely perceived as the senior administrator most hostile to the lacrosse team, Moneta (unlike Dean Sue or even Tallman Trask) appeared to believe the players were guilty. That conviction, it’s worth noting, didn’t come from an ultra-feminist belief that women never lie about rape; in one of his first comments on the February (alleged black-on-white rape) case, he appeared—as Liestoppers observed—to shift the blame to the accuser. Moneta told NBC-17* that the situation she faced was “part of the reality of collegiate life and of experimentation and some of the consequences of students not necessarily always being in the right place at the right time. This happens around the country. Duke is no different in that respect.”
The reward: Moneta was named vice chair of the Campus Culture Initiative; he also saw his contract renewed in 2006.
2.) Group of 88 stalwart Paula McClain. Over and over again, McClain adopted public positions that suggested indifference to due process for the lacrosse players and an eagerness to exploit the case to advance her pedagogical agenda.
The reward: McClain, incredibly, was elected chairwoman of the Academic Council—an event that has received insufficient media attention.
3.) Colleagues even more extreme in their anti-lacrosse activism—Peter Wood, Karla Holloway, Anne Allison. Wood and Holloway pretty clearly seem to have violated Chapter Six of the Duke Faculty Handbook (which requires professors to treat all Duke students—not just ones they agree with politically—with respect). Allison’s spring-term course used a book that treated the “rape” as an established fact.
The reward: Wood, Holloway, and Allison were named chairs (or, in Allison’s case, co-chair) of CCI subgroups.
4.) Chauncey Nartey. The Duke senior distinguished himself last spring as an extremist critic of the lacrosse team within the Student Government, someone who appeared to presume guilt.
The reward: Even though the fraternity of which he was president was suspended in November, he was one of four students to serve on the CCI; and, stunningly, was one of two students selected to join President Brodhead at a February 2007 “Duke Conversation” in
5.) The African American Studies Program. Eighty percent of its spring 2006 members joined the Group of 88, and the department itself was the driving force behind the statement—a key exhibit in the defense motion for a change of venue.
The reward: In December 2006, the Board of Trustees voted to elevate the program—with a paltry 33 majors—to departmental status. At the time, the AAAS website listed 15 “core” faculty members; that number has since been scaled back to 8.
6.) Sgt. Mark Gottlieb. The figure who has come to embody the unethical performance of the Durham Police Department, Gottlieb had a record of unfairly targeting Duke students and played a key role in helping fabricate the case against the lacrosse players
The reward: Duke hired the sergeant to provide security at the Christmas Eve service and to help direct traffic at Duke events.
7.) Rev. William Barber. The head of the NC NAACP presides over an organization whose top lawyer, Al McSurely, promised to help the accuser get into law school(!) penned an error-riddled “memorandum of law” that the defense (appropriately) cited as grounds for a change of venue. Barber, meanwhile, began the case by issuing a statement that asserted as fact that a crime occurred.
The reward: Barber was invited to give a sermon at the Duke Chapel; his biased remarks prompted some worshippers to walk out.
8.) Dinushika Mohottige. The 2006 graduate was, to my knowledge, the only person to admit that she publicly distributed the vigilante posters with the lacrosse players’ photos.
The reward: Mohottige, almost incredibly, was asked three weeks after her vigilante action to join President Brodhead at a panel combating the “culture of crassness” on campus.
A depressing litany.
Hat tip: B.N.
*--correction from the Chronicle