The day after Attorney General Roy Cooper’s press conference declaring all three players “innocent” and victims of a “rogue” prosecutor, commentator and soon-to-be Bennett (N.C.) College president Julianne Malveaux gave an interview to NPR. Malveaux remarked,
Those kids don’t deserve an apology. They hired strippers . . . They were known for hooliganistic behavior separate and apart from what happened to this woman. So, no, they don’t deserve any apologies at all . . . Not from the professors, not from anyone else.
Furthermore, obviously the woman—the victim in this case—has changed her story a couple [sic] of times . . . Well, frankly, I believe that something did happen there. We know that something happened. We know [sic] that these guys lied about their names, so she had difficulty identifying [them]. Something happened to this woman and she deserves a lot of our compassion.
, you know, offered to pay her way through school, and I think that’s a fine offer. I hope she takes him up on it. But I really, you know—I think something happened here. I think these guys are bad apples. They may not—you may not be able to prove rape; you may not be able to prove anything. But something did happen there, and it was something that was wrong. Jackson
The Greensboro News & Record, appropriately, condemned Malveaux for her comments. It noted,
News circulates to the Triad that the new president of Bennett College said on a National Public Radio show that the Duke lacrosse players wrongly accused of rape don’t deserve apologies . . . Malveaux later softened that pronouncement on the nationally broadcast show, “News & Notes,” adding that Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong should apologize, as he eventually did. The players are hardly heroes but what they had to go through based on flimsy evidence was an injustice, whether you’re white or black, rich or poor. Beyond that, Malveaux, as a college president now versus a self-employed commentator and business owner, ought to choose how she expresses those views a lot more thoughtfully and carefully.
In yesterday’s News & Record, Malveaux was asked about her comments. Her response? “I made those comments before I was president of Bennett College for Women, and I'm not going to talk about them any more.” Then, echoing the Brodhead administration’s mantra, she declared, “I’m moving on.”
Malveaux did, however, condemn the News & Record for having the temerity to publish letters to the editor critical of her position (a position, again, she declined to defend). “I would have preferred,” she told the editors, “that your paper had not taken the position of running as many letters as it did . . . I think it was a little mean-spirited ... to run [some of the letters] over commencement weekend.”
Exactly what were the letters that so upset Malveaux? There were four of them (hardly an excessive total), reprinted below.
A News & Record editorial in late March announcing the new president of Bennett College called her “a seasoned, forceful speaker” who is “equally comfortable in front of large audiences and television cameras.”
Indeed, Julianne Malveaux appears to be comfortable and forceful speaking on topics, even when she doesn’t know the facts.
Recently, after the North Carolina attorney general declared the Duke lacrosse defendants innocent, Malveaux said on NPR, “Those kids don’t deserve an apology. They hired strippers. ... They were known for hooliganistic behavior. ... So, no, they don’t deserve any apologies at all. ...
“Something happened to this woman and she deserves a lot of our compassion.”
If “hooliganistic behavior” refers to drinking, perhaps in excess, that may be true. However, an investigation showed them to be respectful young men and very good students.
Yes, “something” did happen but not the “something” that Malveaux suggests. A disturbed young lady made a false claim of rape. These young men have been slandered for more than a year and it’s time to stop.
That someone in Malveaux’s position would speak with such authority about a topic that she obviously has no knowledge of is just very sad.
“They’re still hooligans!” the incoming president of Bennett College, Dr. Malveaux, declared on a recent NPR radio panel discussion. “Those kids don’t deserve an apology.” She indicated that, in her mind, the entire lacrosse team and the three young men whose lives were basically ruined, then were declared totally innocent by N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, “do not deserve an apology.”
The entire team? How about the entire Duke University student body? How about the entire state of North Carolina? If a few of her students are falsely accused of a crime, then declared totally innocent, I hope she has a different attitude.
Do we really need another person in Greensboro who seeks to divide rather than bring our community together?
Bennett College has a fine leader in retiring President Johnnetta Cole. She is a refined and smart lady with elegance who will be badly missed. Her replacement, Julianne Malveaux, is anything but that. She is a nasty, foul-mouthed ultra-liberal and leftist who never has anything good to say, just continues to cut individuals and groups down. She is like a mean-spirited black Molly Ivins.
Although Malveaux doesn’t start work at Bennett until June 1, her pronouncement preceded her appearance. She said that the Duke University students accused in the rape case were hooligans and did not deserve any apologies at all.
The News & Record said it well when reporting her comments and noted, “She ought to choose how she expresses those views a lot more thoughtfully and carefully.” Leopards don’t change their spots, nor will she change her foul mouth. I have read her columns for years and know what to expect.
Bennett College, you deserved another great leader. You could have done much better. Could you have done worse? I doubt it.
I read with regret Julianne Malveaux’s comments in Summary Judgment (April 21). The article quoted comments made by the new Bennett College president on an NPR radio show in which she stated that the Duke students did not deserve an apology from anyone.
My first thought was, if these students had been African American and accused by a Caucasian young woman, and all the other circumstances were the same (from inviting a stripper in to the fact that no DNA of the students was found on the accuser), would Malveaux’s comments have been the same? I watched the press conference given by the attorney general. Clearly, these allegations were false, and it is a shame when we cannot admit when a wrong has been done no matter what the race or socioeconomic standing of the accused.
What message do we send, especially to young people, when we don’t stand against injustices perpetrated upon all people? No past injustice done to anyone makes a present injustice justifiable.
I am an African American, and I am sorry that these young men and their families had to endure this. I am also very sad for this young woman who is obviously troubled, and grateful no charges were pressed against her.
Mary E. Johnson
Mary Johnson’s comments are particularly well-taken. And, as Beth Brewer noted, “That someone in Malveaux’s position would speak with such authority about a topic that she obviously has no knowledge of is just very sad.” That, now, Malveaux would refuse either to defend or apologize for her statements is even sadder.