Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Two follow-ups on recent posts.
First, an interesting column in the Chronicle from Andrew Beaton, reflecting on the Duke lacrosse team’s recent national championship victory over Syracuse. Speaking to both current coach John Danowski and two of the team’s star players, Beaton learned that from recruiting to current media coverage, the legacy of 2006-7 remains.
“The scandal may never go away,” wrote Beaton, “and it may always be among the first few results for ‘Duke lacrosse’ in a Google search. (Even after Monday’s 16-10 national championship win against Syracuse, it’s in the top three). And it’s a shame that a set of lies, a district attorney’s ambitions and presumptions of guilt have made it that way.”
Current Duke students who solely read the Chronicle must have been puzzled, however, by Beaton’s final sentence. A “set of lies”? A “district attorney’s ambitions”? “Presumption of guilt”—including from dozens of faculty on campus, amplified by a president too cowardly to stand up for due process?
Isn’t this the same paper that only a few months ago informed readers that the legacy of the lacrosse case was “a stifling effect on our administration” leading to “the administration’s ability to comment on Duke’s social culture”? The “enduring narrative” of the case was not, according to the authors of this unsigned editorial, a “presumption of guilt” by those who ran the school, but instead “of rowdy, belligerent parties—with sexist and racist overtones—and the entitled students who attend them.”
Perhaps the authors of that unsigned editorial might want to take a look at Beaton’s column. I should note that the column’s title—that Coach Danowski changed the “meaning” of Duke lacrosse is far more reflective of the “enduring narrative” editorial than of Beaton’s column itself.
Second, regarding the North Carolina “right to counsel” I bloggedabout below. Given the current state of affairs on college campuses, action from state legislatures to ensure due process in campus disciplinary procedures is about the only chance for reform. The likelihood that colleges themselves will enhance due process is about as high as Michelle Bachmann being chosen next year’s commencement speaker at Harvard.
The original House bill could, and should, serve as a model for other states to follow—a clear, unequivocal assertion that accused students have the right to a lawyer. It’s my hope that as the measure moves through the Senate, there will be greater clarity provided to at least one of the House modifications—namely, the provision adding “non-attorney advocate” to the bill. (“Any student enrolled at a constituent institution who is accused of a violation of the disciplinary or conduct rules of the constituent institution shall have the right to be represented by a licensed attorney or non-attorney advocate who may fully participate during any disciplinary procedure or other procedure adopted and used by the constituent institution regarding the alleged violation.”)
Since all universities currently ensure “non-attorney advocates”—a toothless position—the bill’s effects would be meaningless. If, however, the bill is clarified to ensure that the student should have the choice between a lawyer and a non-attorney advocate, then the bill’s promise of a right to counsel could be significant indeed.
One other item from the bill, which fortunately was not modified by the House. The bill calls for a “licensed attorney or non-attorney advocate who may fully participate during any disciplinary procedure or other procedure adopted and used by the constituent institution regarding the alleged violation.” One key element of the “Dear Colleague” letter (and changes demanded by “activists” at Stanford, Yale, and elsewhere as those schools have modified their campus disciplinary processes) has been significant structural restrictions on the process itself—severe limitations on the ability of accused students (or their “advocates”) to cross-examine witnesses, or to receive evidence in a timely fashion, or to present evidence of their innocence.
A legislative commitment to full participation might remedy some of those problems—but only, again, if the full participation came from an attorney, not a university-approved “non-attorney advocate.”
We’ll see what the Senate does.