The Rev. Sam Wells, Duke chaplain, is leaving his post to return to England. Wells was a peripheral player in the lacrosse saga, but his performance was a deeply unfortunate one, given his status as a man of the cloth. Throughout the case, Wells implied that he viewed his ministerial functions as confined to students who conformed to the humanities' faculty preferred race, class, and gender status.
On April 2, 2006, Wells (as he later revealed to the H-S) shelved his planned sermon, and instead talked about the lacrosse case. (Many months later, in an e-mail to me, Wells claimed his sermon in fact wasn't about the case, an assertion that not only contradicted what he told the H-S, but made no sense, given the sermon's contents.) In his sermon, Wells implied that the lacrosse players had broken the “law” of the university, and he placed their actions in a “subculture of reckless ‘entitlement’, sexual acquisitiveness and aggressive arrogance goes against every aspect of this law. It commodifies and consumes the bodies of others, with no generosity, no patience, no searching for truth or beauty, and no regard to its social significance. It undermines the university because it corrupts the imagination on which the whole university rests. It breaks the university's law. It debases desire.”
“The last week,” he contended, “has exposed the reality that sexual practices are an area where some male students are accustomed to manipulating, exploiting and terrorizing women all the time—and that this has been accepted by many as a given.”
Such views got Wells a spot on the wildly biased Campus Culture Initiative; and also appear to have prompted him--after Mike Nifong's case imploded--to invite NAACP head William Barber to give a Sunday sermon at Duke. That invitation came despite (or, perhaps, because of?) the NAACP's flagrant biases against the wrongly accused Duke students, and unsurprisingly led to a sermon that tried to rationalize the NAACP's inexcusable handling of the case.
To my knowledge, the Rev. Wells never apologized for his response to the lacrosse case, either to the wider Duke community or to the specific Duke students whose words he (erroneously) targeted. Indeed, in an e-mail to the blogger John in Carolina, Wells, like Barber, tried to rationalize his behavior.