As John in
Yet much of the article seems, to put it most charitably, inconsistent with the University’s record in the lacrosse case. And this approach is, sadly, all too consistent with the magazine’s pattern of one-sided portrayals of the issues and problems arising from the case.
To begin with, here is how author Bridget Booher describes the case:
Though the majority of reported crimes are relatively minor incidents, two major events accentuated the need for Duke to think more strategically about campus safety and emergency preparedness. In the spring of 2006, allegations of an off-campus rape by Duke students exploded into a racially charged, nationally followed case that has come to be known simply as “lacrosse.” As the tangled mess slowly began to unravel, senior administrators identified a number of areas for improvement, including the university’s internal and external lines of communication.
Having mentioned Mangum’s allegations, doesn’t Booher have some obligation to point out that the Attorney General declared the Duke students actually innocent? It’s not entirely clear, indeed, what she means by “the tangled mess slowly began to unravel.” Even allowing for Booher’s peculiar word choice, didn’t the “mess” completely “unravel,” not merely begin “to unravel”?
Perhaps as interesting is Booher’s follow-up clause: “Senior administrators identified a number of areas for improvement, including the university’s internal and external lines of communication.”
In her discussion of the second “major event” that “accentuated the need for Duke to think more strategically about campus safety and emergency preparedness”—the Virginia Tech massacre—Booher devotes seven paragraphs to the specific (and commendable) ways in which Duke enacted changes.
And yet the “areas of improvement” from the University’s handling of the lacrosse case merit a mere one sentence.
Booher’s phrasing—“Senior administrators identified a number of areas for improvement, including the university’s internal and external lines of communication”—suggests the University identified “areas for improvement” beyond “the university’s internal and external lines of communication.” Yet no such “areas for improvement” have been publicly identified.
How, moreover, has the University acted to improve “internal . . . lines of communication”? Booher doesn’t reveal—nor, of course, has any other Duke administrator. Perhaps such changes have occurred. But it’s odd that the administration hasn’t chosen to share those changes with the broader Duke community.
And how has the university acted to improve “external lines of communication”? Again, Booher offers no specifics. The University’s acknowledged record involving improving “external lines of communication,” however, isn’t exactly encouraging, involving as it did only two stated issues:
- (1) the Bowen/Chambers report, which faulted (of all people) Larry Moneta for having the temerity, in an external line of communication, to warn Duke students of a possibly violent response from
residents; and Durham
- (2) President Brodhead’s Sept. 2007 apology for his not having reached out to the families of the falsely accused players, an apology that came months after BOT chairman Bob Steel had privately assured other Trustees that such lines of communication had, in fact, existed. Neither Brodhead nor anyone else associated with Duke has publicly said (a) why Brodhead didn’t stay in touch with the families; (b) what steps have been taken to ensure that a repeat of this performance doesn’t occur; and (c) what steps have been taken to rebuke Steel for misleading other trustees.
The Booher article does provide one intriguing nugget of information. Under the heading “Law and order,” Booher writes,
Reciprocity between community partners extends to the Duke and
police departments as well. The two agencies have a concurrent jurisdiction agreement, which means that Duke can ask the Durham police for help with crimes on campus, and the Duke police can respond to crime involving members of the Duke community who live in surrounding neighborhoods. Durham
The Ekstrand lawsuit has provided the most complete discussion regarding the question of Duke Police’s jurisdiction over events at 610 N. Buchanan. But Booher’s article appears to be the first official Duke publication to concede that, at the very least, Duke Police had concurrent jurisdiction over the lacrosse case—since “the Duke police can respond to crime involving members of the Duke community who live in surrounding neighborhoods.”
Booher’s clause, therefore, raises a troubling question: if the Duke Police had concurrent jurisdiction over the lacrosse case, why did they decline to exercise that jurisdiction—and who made this decision?
Other sections of Booher’s article contain boilerplate items that, alas, contradict the University’s known record in the lacrosse case. For instance, under the heading of “off-campus dangers,” Booher quotes Larry Moneta, noting that in dealings with the Durham Police, the university “can’t position itself as having a greater need than other parts of
Over the past few years, however, the central issue in the relationship between Duke students and the Durham Police hasn’t been a demand for special treatment for Duke students. It has been, instead,
Or take this Booher paraphrase of Moneta: “He assured the group that Duke officials do follow criminal cases very closely, and work with the local law-enforcement agencies and the attorney general’s office to expedite prosecution when appropriate and feasible.” In the lacrosse case, however, Duke’s official policy appeared to be to refuse to “work with the local law-enforcement agencies.”
Or take this passage:
In this case, as in others involving students of concern, the young woman’s name is added to a database maintained by Amy Powell, the student-affairs case manager. A position created just this year, the case manager coordinates the efforts of student-focused campus entities to ensure an integrated approach to addressing a spectrum of needs a student might have.
For example, the loss of a parent or close family member could have an impact on a student’s academic performance, his mental health, and even his financial-aid package should the family’s income fluctuate. In a situation like that, Powell would collaborate with the student’s academic deans, who alert the student’s professors to the situation; professional staff in Counseling and Psychological Services, to which the student might be referred; and the financial aid and registrar’s office.
This all sounds wonderful. The record of the lacrosse case, however, revealed that when some Duke professors—Kim Curtis, for example, or John Walsh’s spring 2006 professor, Claire Ashton-James—they not only did nothing, but behaved in an unprofessional fashion to further damage the student. What will Powell’s new position do to address such matters?
Or take this Moneta quote: “One of the things we tell parents during orientation is to contact us if something doesn’t seem right.” That, of course, would be the same Larry Moneta who, in March 2006, when a vigilante mob traveled from 610 N. Buchanan to a nearby house rented by other lacrosse players, where members of the mob shouted threats and banged on the doors/windows of the house. One of the players called Moneta for help; Moneta responded that there was nothing he could do. Could it be that Moneta doesn’t consider a mob banging on a Duke student’s window as “something [that] doesn’t seem right”?
Or take this quote from DUPD head Aaron Graves: “But as sworn police officers, we have an obligation to enforce the laws of the state, the orders of the city, and any other federal laws that apply.” In the lacrosse case, however, the DUPD unlawfully provided to the DPD the key card information of Duke students, information that was protected under “federal laws that apply” (FERPA). Duke officials then appeared to conspire with
Duke could have addressed to the lacrosse case as if a university’s fundamental mission were pursuit of the truth—by appointing, perhaps a truth and reconciliation commission, or by soliciting a white paper on how the University, its administrators, and its faculty members responded to the case. Duke, of course, didn’t choose this path. And Booher, doubtless, would have written a different article had the University chosen to confront publicly its handling of the case.
Duke’s decision is probably unsurprising. But the University’s approach also renders ridiculous such statements as Booher’s: “With their own children heading off to college, these parents want assurance that safety precautions and safeguards are in place to protect them from harm.”