President Brodhead held the latest of his “Duke Conversation” events this week; the venue was
The “Duke Conversation” events aren’t designed to allow follow-up questions—unfortunately. It’s not hard to imagine a few obvious ones for Brodhead:
1.) “Upon reading the Group of 88 statement, it says that the Departments of Romance Studies; Psychology: Social and Health Sciences; Art, Art History, and Visual Studies; Classical Studies; and Asian & African Languages & Literature all formally signed onto the ad. Yet at least three of these departments and perhaps all five never did endorse the statement. Is this what you meant when you stated that the ad ‘doesn’t say what people have been told it says’”?
2.) “Upon reading the Group of 88 statement, it says that something ‘happened to that young woman [Crystal Mangum].’ Not allegedly happened. Not might have happened. Just happened—an unequivocal assertion. What do you think 88 Duke faculty members were saying with this statement?”
3.) “Upon reading the Group of 88 statement, it says, ‘To the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.’ Is there any reason why readers should not have believed that the signatories were referring to the ‘protesters making collective noise’ who had received extensive media coverage in the days before the ad appeared?”
In a January interview with the Chronicle, Brodhead asserted, “The president of a university has to exercise great care when commenting on the individual utterances of faculty members. Faculty members do not, and should not, speak for my pleasure or my approval.” Yet in adopting Cathy Davidson’s factually unsustainable interepretation of the statement’s origins and intents, Brodhead is commenting unfavorably “on the individual utterances of faculty members.”
More than 20 Duke faculty members—Steve Baldwin, Michael Gustafson, Michael Munger, the Economics professors—have publicly criticized the Group’s statement. In his
It seems, in short, in his defense of the Group’s statement, and his implicit criticism of those on his own faculty who have questioned the statement, Brodhead is suggesting that he can comment on the statements of his faculty.
A 24-year-old Duke graduate did manage to get three follow-up questions for Brodhead in an impromptu discussion at the
Q: He personally wrote to the president of
in support of jailed graduate student Yekatan Turkyilmaz. Why show that level of support to him while doing absolutely nothing for the lacrosse players. Armenia
A: An obviously exasperated Brodhead condescendingly answered that the lacrosse just don’t understand how difficult the situation was for him. He emphasized to me that if Duke had done anything to support the students, everyone would have believed that
was buying the freedom of its students. He also mentioned NC law that only allows the DA to remove himself from the case. He seemed to think that his absolute non-intervention was somehow critical to Nifong removing himself from the case. Duke University
Q: It was clear from early on that due process and the rights of the students were violated. Could you not have spoken out in support of their civil rights without involving innocence or guilt?
A: He reiterated (as he has many times before) that it is easy to look back with the benefit of hindsight. He seemed to believe that he DID speak out as soon as the procedural injustices were brought to light. Of course, he must have thought that I was not aware of numerous the procedural and civil rights violations revealed to the world well before December by KC Johnson and Liestoppers. Since I wanted to ask another question, and I did not push this matter any further.
At this point, a woman, probably one of Brodhead’s many enablers, interjected herself into the conversation, and spoke somewhat patronizingly of the lacrosse parents as people “just don’t understand” the situation while Brodhead nodded in agreement. To them it seems that the parents are merely people too blinded by love for their children to see the so-called complex realities of the situation. However, even this woman remarked that he could make a public statement to the effect of: I really wish I could have done more, but I am sorry that the realities of the situation prevented me from doing so.
With another couple approaching Brodhead, I politely attempted to ask him another question. In order to soften him up somewhat, I had to say that I understand where he was coming from. He was somewhat annoyed but agreed to one more question.
Q: The Chauncey Nartey situation. Why was the Ryan MacFayden e-mail, essentially a crude, if stupid and untimely, joke sent to a private group of friends deserving of suspension while the far more serious Nartey e-mail, a communication to a stranger about his daughter that could likely be seen as a threat and at the very least constituted harassment, received no official reprimand. I wished to follow-up and ask him to justify Nartey’s position on the CCI as the representative of university fraternities when his fraternity was essentially dissolved (in addition to Nartey’s involvement in ADC Charlotte), but he cut me off.
A: Brodhead seemed somewhat flustered, and again reiterated that people just don’t understand what the situation was like. He added that he could not stand in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and answer every single question about the lacrosse case. I asked him if he was involved in the decision or if this was entirely Larry Moneta’s domain. Instead of answering directly, he said that Larry Moneta was in the building if I wanted to question him.
Since Brodhead probably perceived me as an “unfriendly” entity at this point, I figured that pushing him further would only tarnish the reputations of blog community. So I thanked him for taking time to answer my questions and left for the evening.