Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Conflicting Pressures

It’s been interesting to see the differences between how most newspapers and most blogs interpreted the recent Richard Brodhead statement. Most media coverage—even from the heretofore consistently pro-Nifong Duff Wilson of the New York Times—stressed the sections in which the president criticized Nifong, in strong and commendable language. Most case-oriented blogs, on the other hand, focused on the statement’s defense of the Group of 88, and its defense of the Group of 88-led Campus Culture Initiative.

Perhaps this bifurcated response was inevitable. It seems as if Brodhead currently has to satisfy several different constituencies, most of which place competing demands on him. That the state and national media focused on his call for due process suggests that, overall, the address was a positive development, despite its disappointing comments about the Group of 88.


Only the naïve would believe that last week’s filing of the Dowd lawsuit represents the last or most significant legal matter that Duke will face before this affair has ended. This case began with discussions about legal action against Duke—local attorney and Nifong backer Mark Simeon, joined briefly by high-powered plaintiffs’ attorney Willie Gary, seemed to dream of a lawsuit by Kim Roberts and the accuser against Duke.

That the accuser will never have grounds for a civil suit is hardly a revelation; indeed, it’s far more likely that she’ll face charges for filing a false report or have to fight child custody issues.

Duke, therefore, finds itself in an awkward position. The major legal threat it seemed to face last spring, when the key decisions (and non-decisions) in this affair were made, came from the accuser. Now, it faces a looming legal threat from some of its students. Counsel undoubtedly has told Brodhead that any admission of improper conduct by faculty in last spring’s classes will strengthen the next case against Duke, and that he should stress the administration’s efforts to uphold the presumption of innocence, even though this seems to have been, at most, a secondary concern in March, April, May, and June.


While legal concerns would dictate the kind of robust defense that Brodhead offered of the Group of 88’s actions, pleasing parents would pull the president in the exact opposite direction. Duke’s current tuition is more than $40,000 annually; it, fittingly, competes for student talent against the Ivies and other elite schools, like Stanford, Michigan, or Berkeley. Parents who spend such an amount want to ensure that their children will be treated well by the school.

More than 80 percent of Duke’s arts and sciences faculty did not join the Group of 88. No Engineering professors did so. In the last week, 19 Economics professors publicly stated that they welcomed all Duke students into their classes—regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or athletic status. The Economics professors’ statement appears in today’s Chronicle. No question exists that most Duke professors care very much about their students.

But there’s also no question that one Duke professor, after suggesting—falsely—in writing that two of her own students were accomplices to rape, gave both of them an F on their final paper. (Nor is there any doubt in my mind that we’ll be hearing more such tales—perhaps not quite so dramatic—over the coming months.) There’s no question that ESPN reported that document author Wahneema Lubiano moved forward with the Group of 88’s statement fully aware that some would interpret the document as a “stake through the collective heart” of some of her own school’s students. Or that not a single member of the Group of 88 has publicly conceded doubts, in retrospect, about the timing of their statement; or its thanking of protesters whose behavior most people would consider indefensible; or its refusal to mention the due process rights of their school’s own students.

From a standpoint of reaching out to parents, then, Brodhead has every reason to concede that mistakes were made last spring—not to seek scapegoats, to challenge tenure, or to fire people, as was done to former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler. But to reassure prospective Duke parents that the administration is taking positive steps to ensure that every arts and sciences professor at Duke treats every student at the institution fairly.


Brodhead’s address did not include a discussion of the role he sees the institution’s alumni playing as part of the Duke community. I’ve corresponded with lots of Duke graduates over the past nine months, and have met a smaller number personally. It’s my sense that a significant swing in opinion has occurred—from embarrassment and concern that a crime might have occurred last spring, to disappointment that the institution didn’t do more to protect the due process rights of its students now.

Duke’s official attempts to communicate with its alumni have been either one-sided or bumbling—only heightening the risk of an alumni backlash as the full scope of Nifong’s misconduct becomes clear.

Brodhead’s remarks against Nifong were the right thing to do. But they also satisfied pressure from alumni, a group that no president can afford to alienate. On the question of challenging Nifong, Duke’s institutional self-interest and Brodhead’s moral obligations are one and the same, and Brodhead’s actions over the past month seem to recognize this fact.


The principle of academic freedom in the United States dates from World War I. It originated in response to decisions by prestigious universities (notably Columbia and Stanford) to fire professors because of their political beliefs. It gradually, and appropriately, expanded to include the argument that professors’ specialized training should give them freedom to conduct their research as they see fit, and to have final say on what is taught in the classroom.

In recent years, however, academic freedom has been redefined by some to suggest that it should leave academics free from outside criticism of anything they say or do. This sentiment certainly appeared in the sections of Brodhead’s address dealing with blogs (I presume including, in the interest of full disclosure, this blog) that have criticized the Group of 88.

I would be surprised if many Group of 88 members haven’t already consulted counsel, and I would be even more surprised if counsel hadn’t told them the ambiguity of the statement’s language could be made, in a court of law, to show that the signatories were saying things against the lacrosse team. Because of their overall record of statements and actions, several arts and sciences professors would seem to be at least as legally vulnerable as is Kim Curtis.

Even if the threat of lawsuits didn’t exist, though, I suspect Brodhead would have denounced the critics of the Group of 88. Professors, as a whole, resent outside criticism. Duke, in particular, has aggressively recruited professors in the last 15 years with a promise of a comfortable intellectual atmosphere on campus. Unfortunately, Brodhead seems unwilling or unable to give even a mild statement of rebuke, perhaps delivered in the passive voice, regarding inappropriate faculty behavior.


At most institutions, the Trustees also would be placing pressure on Brodhead. But in this affair, BOT chairman Bob Steel has resolutely backed the president.

On one side, then, legal advice and faculty pressure suggest that Brodhead will continue with his January 7 line of wholeheartedly defending the Group of 88. At this stage, the question would seem to be whether pressure from alumni or prospective parents will force him to reconsider this approach.

But the administration seems to have embraced a policy of demanding that Durham authorities treat Duke students with the same procedures accorded to all Durham residents—a most welcome, and highly positive, development.


After Monday’s post, I received a thoughtful e-mail from a DIW reader chastising me for appearing anti-Duke, and for leaving the impression that all professors at the school agreed with the Group of 88. The reader especially objected that my bullet-pointing four professors (Farred, Crowley, Curtis, and Davidson) left this incorrect impression.

I should have been clearer in my language in that section of the post, and I apologize. I bullet-pointed these four professors not because I considered them representative of the Duke faculty (I don’t), but because they were the four Duke professors that had most recently experienced criticism from the blogs—the specific point that Brodhead had made, but without mentioning their names, in the faculty section of his address.


Anonymous said...

If you haven't seen it, take a look at the Monday, January 08, 2007 blog entry of
Michael Gustafson

Anonymous said...

KC -- Cathy Davidson has stepped forward, in correspondence being carried in Liestoppers, in a curious posture. She alternately narrows her anti-lax position even while hinting darkly at a right-wing conspiracy that decided, nearly two months after the 88's letter, to misinterpret it and make it a cause celebre.
I am greatly looking forward to your deconstruction of her latest "explanations."

Hey said...

There is no recourse for faculty. 19 Professors have stated that they believe in innocence until proven guilty and welcome all students into their classes. This came after 9 months of ever greater evidence of the absolute innocence of their students, the corruption of the police and prosecutors, an admitted conspiracy to violate state and federal law, a State Bar complaint against the prosecutor for his behavior in the case, and the denunciation of the DA's behavior in the case by every other DA in the state.

88 Professors, including the VICE PROVOST, condemned the students within 3 weeks of the event and within 2 weeks of the incident becoming public knowledge. They thanked protesters promising violence against the Lacrosse Team.

Less than 5 other Professors have individually come forward to support the players and condemn the obvious misconduct of the DA.

The "silent majority" have had 9 months to do something on this case. They have done nothing, letting 1 staffer be fired (only a coach, a pariah amongst academics and not worthy of solidarity) for purely optical reasons in response to mere allegations before any investigations could be completed. They have let their campus be taken over by radicals, students be threatened with dramatic violence, and many fellow faculty defame and libel individual and entire classes of students.

You are either for due process, the physical safety of students, and equal treatment under the law for all students with no regard for creed, class, or color, or you are against this. Less than 25 professors have stood up for Civil Rights, Due Process, and the interests of their own students.

KC, these are the same people that tried to blackball you for your crimes against Political Correctness. These are the same people that celebrated 9/11 as "chickens coming home to roost", the same people that threatened an individual's child for his commments in the public sphere. There can be no neutral parties to an injustice, and there are none at Duke.

All of the faculty who have not spoken out have acquiesced in the Gang of 88's actions and affirm them with their silence. They are just as guilty as the administration and the Gang.

"Academic Freedom" is a fraud to escape interaction with the public but requires accepting the most radical actions of anyone else on campus. It is an utter travesty and it is time that the pathetic shield of tenure be abolished. We were promised courage and have been rewarded with cowardice. We were promised free enquiry and have been rewarded with a frightened herd mentality. We were promised innovation and have been rewarded with masturbatory word games that "prove" how evil every one who pays for the university is. We were promised wise guidance and we have been rewarded with a lynch mob that hates its students and seizes on any opportunity to do them in.

The problem is not just Duke, the problem is the entire Academic system that is focused on keeping the boat still and appeasing the rockers on campus who primarily inhabit the Liberal Arts faculty, especially the group studies and critical theory ghettoes. Nothing less than a full house cleaning will rid us of this rot. Until an embrace of Marxism is the death knell of an academic career, rather than a foundation, the problem will not have been solved. Embracing Fascism and Nazism is a career ender, while Marxists who have aided and abetted the deaths of hundreds of millions of people (including the ongoing charnel houses of North Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam) are feted and rewarded. There should be no place in the Academy for any person who encourages or embraces crimes against humanity. Advising a President against the wishes of the Left is a mark of cain in the Academy, but advocating policies that have led to the intentional murder of hundreds of millions is a benefit. There will be no peace for the academy until they game some morals and fix these ongoing crimes.

Anonymous said...

To Professor Johnson:

A very interesting and balanced post.

Anonymous said...

KC, I continue to be astonished at the quality and quantity of your output! What great stuff you're able to produce on a daily basis, and it just keeps on coming.

I first heard of you some years ago, sir, when you went through that little dustup at Brooklyn College and came out smelling like a rose, your foes, if not exactly vanquished, at least well chastened. And I thought then that I would hear more from you, and that you were likely to become a very prominent public intellectual.

Just as I predicted, it seems like you are on your way to a lofty perch, and the country, culture and society will be better off for it.

Anonymous said...

From Michael Gaynor:
Duke Case: Don't Stay, Mr. Brodhead. Resign Instead.

"Three points:

(1) I pray all team members damaged by Duke University pursue their legal recourse against it and donors contribute their money wisely.

(2) Like Mr. Nifong, President Brodhead fancies himself not to be a problem, but to be part of the solution. They are either deluded or dishonest. Whichever, they should resign.

(3) Duke does not need "all of us," especially not President Brodhead and any unrepentant members of the Group of 88.

Anonymous said...

"Even if the threat of lawsuits didn’t exist, though, I suspect Brodhead would [not?]/[absolutely never?] have denounced the critics of the Group of 88."

Anonymous said...

Randon thoughts:

1. I cannot imagine anyone applying to Duke (undergraduate) except as a backup. The degree will be (sadly) tainted for years to come.

2. The pattern of behavior from the left seems pretty typical to anyone who have spent any time in academia.

3. The poor character exhibited by so many in the Duke/Durham community is astonishing.

4.Brodhead's most recent letter looks like it was lifted from a Tom Wolfe novel. Unbelievable. Only someone in the highest levels of academia could possibly write something like that with a straight face.

5. Finally, the NY Times continues to reach new lows. Remember, this is the paper that had a very sympathetic article about 1960s US terrorists--unfortunately published (just before the attack) on 9/11/01!!. And a paper, that never, ever seems to learn anything.

Anonymous said...


Outstanding post!

I very much enjoyed your very fine and nuanced analysis.


Anonymous said...

12:50, KC

I suspect that the 88 are benefiting more from a desire to maintain a 'collegial' environment than potential lawsuits against them/Duke by the players. That is by having a kind of 'solidarity' with the 88 he is making it a statement that all are protected etc 'please do not leave'.

The collegial argument is valid given that is given great weight by universities. KC has his own experience - which thankfully led to full professorship/tenure after a 'fight - with petty disagreements that led others to label him uncooperative, uncollegial etc.

I think legal risks are probably #3 on the list (they will settle with the 3 - probably something for the rest as well to avoid a drawn out process). If they do not settle the litigation might supress the admissions pool and alumni contributions (who wants to pay for a legal settlement?).

Risk #1 would be a fall in the US News rankings. I expect that to happen but it should be only a place or two (selectivity and alumni giving rate are likely to be 'issues').

Risk #2 is that Broadhead manages to turn the faculty against him and is forced out. The faculty can and will pressure the Trustees if they feel they are under attack. 88 professors in politically sensitive departments are therefore pandered to in order to maintain a 'cohesive' and 'collegial' atmosphere where professors have nothing to fear.

Broadhead would likely not be forced out if Duke falls in the rankings - he can attribute it to the negative media coverage etc. To 'survive' he needs to make sure that the faculty do not revolt over perceived encroachments...which is apparently something he is quite good at.

The idea that he wields great power is not really true - he is fairly weak as other presidents given that he needs support from groups that have many different aims etc.

Honestly I will be happy if Duke falls in the rankings - if only because it will cause Duke to SPEND MORE TIME AND MONEY ON PUBLIC RELATIONS. This could include revising how they handle the alumni and specifically how to tackle the issue of faculty support for students.

Anonymous said...

Thought I might expand on my prior post:

The 88 would be able to draw on other professors outside the group to support them if Broadhead took them to task. The 88 are not all from politically sensitive departments (but many are) and they belong to various cliques (geography professor could probably count on his departments support). This support is driven by the collegial environment that inhibits inquiry into inappropriate behavior but will keep Broadhead from doing anything to antagonize them.

It is like taking 88 people that you know at, say, work who do not all work in the same department. If they signed a protest letter and were then sacked for doing so they might be able to draw on others who did not agree with their argument but realize that they could have similar grievances IN THE FUTURE and do not wish to meet the same (hypothetical) fate.

If the faculty sees an 'attack' on the 88 as leading to potential future 'attacks' on non-88 members (by holding people accountable for words/actions) then they would likely grant support.

This is true of the Economics department as well. I happen to believe that econ departments have some of the 'best' professors in the social sciences in that the slant is not political as in some other disciplines. Oh and I happen to be an econ grad that appreciates libertarian faculty members.

Regardless Econ faculty would not welcome investigations into the 88 (or even statements against them by admin) as it might cause future problems for them (perhaps their work, their politics, etc).

The fear may not be rational but if the fear is held and the cost of insuring against the fear is small (very small at a university) then it makes sense to 'close ranks'.

Anonymous said...

while hinting darkly at a right-wing conspiracy that decided,

hey, that is a great issue for all left-wing wacko professors to pursue for the next 2 years. (Gang88 may even publish something.) Bush caused Katrina because he hates blacks, Bush and the jews created 9/11 because they are evil and now this..I'm sure we'll see this on Dailykos & CNN for the next 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Great work KC...thanks for your post, apology, and clarification RE: Duke.

Anonymous said...

1. I cannot imagine anyone applying to Duke (undergraduate) except as a backup. The degree will be (sadly) tainted for years to come.

This may apply for students in the (real) hard-sciences but I would not be surprised if hard core (especially race-quota) feminist left-wingers were to rank Duke higher because of the actions by Gang88 and open support for various hate-mongerer groups, such as the New Black Panthers.

I would guess that many left-wingers did not know that Duke has such a strong left-wing pseudo-science presence.

Michael said...

The blog article was a nice summary on the University side.

I imagine that the issues at Duke exist at a lot of other schools. And worry that the issues of Nifong exist around the country.

Would we look at Duke for our kids? No. But that's because of distance [due to medical problems]. Would we look at schools that have the same problems that Duke does? Sure. As long as we determine that they are reasonably manageable.

We've visited Duke a few times over the years and have stayed nights in Durham a few times travelling up and down the East coast and Duke seemed like a very nice place as did Durham. At least where the hotels we stayed at were.

I didn't realize all of the problems in the city and in relations between the university and the city. I'll have to be a little more careful the next time we're in the area.

Anonymous said...

Bill A Sorry to be putting this question on this article, but the Tara Levicy comment section is having difficulties. What do you think accounts for the divigerent views on the article and Tara? Thanks for your time.

Anonymous said...

You state that the Alumni are part of the Duke community but in President Brodhead's own words he states that the community consits of only the "students, faculty and staff". He seems to want to exclude certain groups - alumni, parents and the durham community at large - from having any involvement. In fact by imlication (his specific defense of the students, faculty and staff)he is saying these groups are a big part of the problem

Anonymous said...

Davidson is in full CYA mode over at LS today. Telling us that it was all the evil blog hooligans fault, that the responses came too late to be valid and eventually she put a sock puppet up to tell everyone that the "decent" shouldn't be thrown in the briar patch with the "real" criminals and even that some might not have known what they were signing! It only counts being the first out if you actually have something to give. The denial and historical re-write will likely make her enemies madder, rather than more forgiving

Anonymous said...

No, 3:08, the commenter isn't a sock puppet for Davidson. Read every comment made, especially the last. You can't twist the words; they are as plain as the nose on your face. Reactions like yours reminds me of Orwell's Animal Farm.

Anonymous said...


Lately you seem to have given in to conflicting pressures, particularly a desire to remain a member in good standing of the faculty club.

It is true that a majority of Duke faculty didn't condemn their own students, but it is also true that nearly all stood silent while others did.

Quite frankly, I find your lavish praise of the "admirable" statement by the econ department completely baffling. Where were they 9 months ago or 6 months ago? What is admirable about rats deserting a sinking ship?

january said...

I like the statement by the econ professors, and I'm glad they said something, and said it just as Seligman and Finnerty were being invited back to campus. Good on them.

What I can't get past is the administration. Seems to me that Brodhead et al. wouldn't have so many conflicting pressures if they'd just defended the presumption of innocence and made it clear that the 88 professors didn't speak for the university in the first place! No support for the Brodhead administration from this alum!

Howard said...

Will Pressler, the lacrosse coach who was forced to resign, have a suit?

Anonymous said...

To 2:31 AM, Re: Tara Levicy:

Part of the problem is that we don't know the real role of Tara Levicy in this, other than she is a SANE nurse-in-training who did an examination of Crystal. We don't know if she actually said anything to Gottlieb, or if he made up the whole thing.

What we do know is this: (1) she is NOT someone whose experience and background qualify her to be an EXPERT witness; (2) her report of a "diffuse edima" according to one SANE nurse who wrote to me demonstrates she really does not understand the physiology involved in her own examination.

Here is some commentary from a SANE nurse (not from Kathleen Eckelt, who also has commented on Levicy):

Diffuse Edema. What the hell does that mean? Ask 20 nurses and you will get 20 answers. To use the words "Diffuse Edema" is the language of a nursing student. It is what the learned in the books.

No experienced nurse would have said that. I would have written
something like No brusing or edema noted in vulva region, No injury to clitoris. Vaginal swelling noted during insertion of speculum. Additional swelling
noted with no associated visible injury in lower left quadrant of
vaginal fold. ect and so on. NO ONE writes "diffuse edema". It is a nonsense conclusion.

It basically means, I have no clue whats wrong cause I can't find anything but a little discomfort when I insert the speculum. Well
hell, thats not comfortable at the BEST of times.

Part of the speculation also comes from the fact that we know the ideological baggage that Ms. Levicy would bring into a courtroom. If she were to insist on the stand that Crystal definitely was raped, then Nifong would have his "evidence," as bad as it is, and some of the jurors (especially if the trial were in Durham) would buy what she said no matter how badly the defense blew her away on cross.

So, she still is a mystery. We do know one thing, however: She is no "expert" on this. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Cathy Davidson is being described by some here as "brave."

This is a joke, right?

This is like calling southern slaveholders brave for publicly defending their "peculiar institution" in the face of Abolitionist criticism.

What could be "brave" about defending an immoral action? What's so brave about responding to email questions from your perch as a tenured professor and Vice-Provost of Duke University?

No, Cathy Davidson is not brave. She is a COWARD for not doing what is self-evidently the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I am in the academic job market and I will not apply for a position at Duke. If they are willing to throw students under the bus with out the presumption of innocence, what about a faculty accused falsely?

If the reason for Duke’s existence is the students and the university abandoned them without regard at the first sign of controversy why would a scientist go to work for Duke? I would expect the same thing to be done to a faculty member by the administration. IMO these folks are not trustworthy enough to work for.

Being a sample of one does not give a large pool of data to pull from, but I think that Duke may also have trouble getting new faculty because of this mess.

Anonymous said...

FYI, 1st day of classes at Duke, the Chronicle is back w/ a scathing editorial:

Mr. Nifong, have you no decency?

OK, that's not the title, but I liked their McCarthy reference in the penultimate sentence. ;>)

The Econ faculty letter has been published as well.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of lawsuits arising from this mess, don't be surprised if someone or other of the gang of 88 goes after their "tormentors" in the blogosphere. Not just as a defensive measure to get to the courthouse first but also because they're just so darned thin-skinned. Think of Baker exploding in fury at people who politely question his position or the others in the group who refuse to read, respond to or even accept emails and phone calls questioning their position and statements.

Anonymous said...

Duke Fallout Continues as Top Black Professor Resigns From Race Committee

Holloway's pissed that Duke invited Collin & Reade back?

What a bitch ;>)

Michael said...

[says Dr. Karla Holloway, the William R. Kenan Jr., Professor of English and Professor of Law at Duke]

Why do Professors stick the name of some other person that next to noone knows next to their own name?

This Professor isn't on trial and threatened with jail. And presumably is an adult.

Anonymous said...

The Diverse Education piece of Holloway cited above is astonishing.

A condemnation of Holloway's action, for all purposes, in a magazine of that type.

It's gonna be a long year for the G88.

Expect Holloway to leave if anyone will hire her (very, very doubtful at this point)

Anonymous said...

Holloway is off the committee! Good! Hope she's so offended that she will be off the faculty, too.

I'm sure more prestigeous schools than Duke will be standing in line to hire someone of such profound wisdom. Her splendid leadership and her valliant stand for justice during these trying times has been inspiring to us all and invaluable in promoting and maintaining the good name of the University.


Show her the door...and the entrance ramps to I-85.

Anonymous said...

Michael - gotta love those endowed chairs. The 'Professor of Law' is a misnomer - I think she taught 1 class at Duke Law, and 'holds an appointment' there (as well as in the Women's Studies program).

KS's got her number...

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe Vanderbuilt is in need of faculty.

Anonymous said...

Question: Has it ever been determined who was the principle instigator of the "Group of 88’s" statement?

Someone had to start the process. It would be interesting to know who started the process.

Dave DuBose

Anonymous said...

The silent majority of Duke professors have chosen not to speak out in support of the just treatment of their students, and against their persecution by certain faculty members and Durham authorities.It seems that their silence can only be explained by one of the following:

1)they support the persecution of their students

2)they do not care

3)they are afraid

4)all of the above

There are no good answers to this multiple choice question.What a sad commentary.

It seems that there must be some type of character draining magnetic field around Duke/Durham seriously affecting the moral compass of many "adults" in the community.Hopefully the students' moral navigation equipment will not be damaged.


Michael said...

[“The faculty who publicly savaged the character and reputations of specific men’s lacrosse players last spring should be ashamed of themselves. They should be tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy,” he wrote.

Holloway says she was deeply shocked by that editorial, and the administration’s failure to offer even a note of support to her.]

I can only say that one would be shocked by that editorial if the shoe fits.

Duke Fallout

Anonymous said...

9:23 Dave Dubois:

I believe the instigator was the disturbingly Urkel-esque Wahneema H Lubiano (Associate Professor, Literature and African and African-American Studies).

If she wasn't the instigator, she was up to her eyeballs in it.

pauldar said...

My sister's daughter was wanting to be a Blue Devil ever since she was knee high to a grasshopper. She graduates this May from High school and she is instead going to be a Hokie and go to Va. Tech. Her parents refuse to let her go to Duke, as they do not trust Duke to protect her. I depise Va. Tech, tried to get her to go to Ohio State

Anonymous said...

In her resignation letter, Holloway criticized the Duke administration for not coming to her defense, as attacks in the form of blogs and letters to the university newspaper have mounted in recent months.

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?


Anonymous said...


You may be painting with too broad a brush. Many Duke faculty members likely know less about this matter than many blog readers. Their interests are electrical engineering, quantum physics, anti-trust law, or whatever, and they believe the best way to serve their students is to concentrate on their field, conduct research, write, and teach. They believe they do not have the time or expertise to learn enough about every "cause that comes along" to comment. I have considerable sympathy for that position.

Also, even those professors who feel like they generally need causes to support may understandably believe that they need to concentrate their fire on one or two at a time; and their dance card may be full at this time.

I have no problem with many silent professors. I do have a problem with the Gang of 88. Once they signed their statement, I think they had the responsibility to keep current with this matter and then speak out when it became obvious that the statement was being construed as a condemnation of the accused lacrosse players. That responsibility became even greater, in my opinion, when Nifong's improper actions became well known.

Anonymous said...

Another area -- Admissions. Applications this year are second only to last year's record.

That seems to indicate that those commenting here that their kids aren't interested in Duke -- as well as those who sympathize with the Holloways and Houston Bakers of the world -- are in the distinct minority.

Other than that omission, this is a fair and terrific summation from KC.

Anonymous said...


"Another area -- Admissions. Applications this year are second only to last year's record."

Which means that apps are down from last year, correct?

Anonymous said...

I hate to do the "this wouldn't happen in private industry" thing, but corporations are typically required by their auditors to have crisis management plans in effect -- these have often been quite effective, as in the case where Tylenol was able to survive some nut putting poison in the bottles. A key component is to have a single, credible spokesperson addressing the press and public concerns. Internally, it's worthwhile to have all the stakeholders singing from the same page.

"Academic freedom" is going to be a difficult hurdle to getting Duke past this crisis. Families have many alternatives in considering what universities their kids will attend. Alumni and donors can write checks or not. Looks like Brodhead, as KC says, is playing exclusively to the faculty and its most extreme members in hopes of avoiding a "no confidence" vote like what brought down Summers at Harvard. But this will be at the cost of allowing players to say and do things that aren't in Duke's interest.

The lawsuits should be very, very interesting.

Anonymous said...

10 a.m. I appreciate your comments. But WOW, to think that most Duke professors do not know much about this case is scary. It wouldn't take much time to read the 88's listening statement and form an opinion. One would have to be living under a rock not to have heard, read about etc. the egregious behavior of the DA.And it would take even less time to write a simple statement supporting the just treatment of your students, especially considering the seriousness of the charges they are facing .Not having the time is no excuse, in my opinion.
Thinking they cannot make a difference is also a weak excuse and a rationalization for their inaction. Some of the greatest injustices in history occurred because too many people sat on the sidelines doing nothing with the rationalization that they could not have made a difference.

Look, I'm not saying that those who have said nothing fall into the same category as those professors who openly condemned the lacrosse players. But this silent majority should be held accountable for their silence and their role in helping enable this travesty to continue.

wfc(waiting for courage)

Anonymous said...

Regarding silent professors, this is partly a byproduct of the tenure process, whereby those who survive a dozen years of grad school and assistant professorships tend to be the most "cooperative". Those who speak out fall by the wayside before tenure, and those who don't have tenure know full well to keep their mouths shut.

Anonymous said...

Of the groups guiding the university response, it appears the lawyers are dominating. This may be the best way to reduce the eventual legal damages/settlement with the lacrosse players, but the wrong crisis management approach. To get this behind them as quickly as possible, the university should have just sucked it up and placed the legal considerations in the back, recognizing that multimillion dollar judgments/settlements will result, and getting back on with the business of the university. If I were advising the university from a crisis management approach, I'd have paid a premium to the lacrosse players and their families now, even in advance of the dismissal of all charges, to end the matter between the university and the players quickly.

Anonymous said...

On the applications being down- the early decision apps were down 20% this year but this trend was also apparent at many other schools across the country. Last year was a record year for applications to all colleges. It was purported to be a spike that will continue to lessen, albeit slightly, over the coming years.

Anonymous said...

I agree with commenters "Hey" and "Anonymous (4:16 am). Duke Univ at large is disgraced by this mess, including the entire faculty.

This case was obviously a mess from nearly the start. It was hyped from the start. No reason for some professor in the bowels of the physics department to not know what's going on, especially after the Group of 88 publicly defecated on the lacrosse players. For the majority of faculty to keep their mouths shut while the administration and 88 professors publicly cheered on a lynch mob, says pretty much the entire faculty is without moral courage. Being silent did not signal disagreement; it showed fear and concurrence.

Belatedly publishing a letter months later, AFTER the case collapsed in shambles, does not show courage. For the very few professors who spoke up early, the only real option is to find another university unless the alumni and the BOT can find a way to fire Brodhead and the group of 88. Staying at this point will merely contaminate them, and in the long run, "collegiality" will be used to punish them.

Duke either needs to undergo a major house cleaning, or fold its tent. Maybe enough lawsuits by enough lacrosse players will force this, but I doubt it.


Anonymous said...

KC- I have a question about the Gang of 88: How long have they worked at Duke? Were they hired by the current administration (3yrs old?)? or by the previous administration? It seems to me that the facts are germane in that professors with long term employment will be more secure (not just tenured). Also fairly recent hires by a previous administration would be easy to sacrifice to the public to show proof of action.

Anonymous said...

10:22 AM ..Applications this year are second only to last year's record

And this means what, exactly? Quantity = Quality?

As per the N&O article, there was a record no. of applicants from NC and SC and a significant drop from the Northeast. If you think SAT scores of the new applicants are in the same range as those from NJ and NY, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like sell you, Cowboy.

Anonymous said...

elb- Why do you think that many of the faculty members are professors in the first place? They are afraid to work in the world of business because of accountability and criticism.
Yes, there are some brilliant and life- changing individuals in academia but a lot of professors are there because they sought the shelter and protection of a university environment for their extreme views.
Do you think Karla Holloway or Ward Churchill would last a week working for IBM? Only a school or the government would employ such people.
ps. why make a silly comment like "Duke needs to undergo a major housecleaning or fold its tent". Duke is not going to "fold its tent". That is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

1. I cannot imagine anyone applying to Duke (undergraduate) except as a backup. The degree will be (sadly) tainted for years to come.

I dont think it is that tainted right now. BUT who knows what is going to come out in the next two years or so. Its easy to imaging that Dowd suit has discovery which all kinds of internal 'teachers lounge' emails that indicate more kids have face grade recrimination. Maybe some have been forced to drop out ofDuke because of it (think the ROTC kid who Curtis had banned for a semester).

There could be a class action suit , plus the players' suits, plus the coach's.

Enrolling now could be like answering a job ad for an AP clerk at Enron in 2000. You are taking a chance that you might getting the stink on you.

All the more reason for some swift work by the trustees.

Anonymous said...


Check out the Holloway thread. 12:03 calls Holloway a parasite. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

To gprestonian:

The applications to Duke were down 3 percent. So what. Not exactly the massive decline predicted by many on this website. There are still more than eleven applications for every spot in the freshman class. I know this is a grave disappointment to people like you but, hey, get over it.

Anonymous said...

To 11:55 AM:

You sound like one of the guys who has been smugly predicting a massive decline in the number of applications to Duke. Sorry, you were wrong. Now you are smugly predicting that the credentials of the applicant pool will be much lower than before. Of course, you have absolutely no evidence to support this statement, but I guess putting garbage out there is less painful to you than just acknowledging that you were wrong.

Anonymous said...

Does Duke really want to have to have these stories of 3%/20% drops keep coming out semester after semester?

Is your point that this situation doesnt need to be addressed either out of fairness or self-interest?

Anonymous said...

Here's another pressure. The money tap from my family to Duke is closed.
We will not contribute, support or take part in any alumni activities, until Duke takes concrete actions to clean out this anti student cabal.

Anonymous said...

President Brodhead appears to be playing all sides. He doesn't have the guts to take a stand.
Brodhead must go.

Anonymous said...

However, Shadee Malaklou(less) has another article:

Cruel Intentions and Dangerous Liasons

Anonymous said...

1:06..acknowledging that you were wrong.

You sure about that? More HS grads from South Carolina and Mississippi and less from NY and New Jersey, and its all a wash? Then I guess there really is no problem at Duke , and there will be no lawsuits or bad publicity or alumni resentment. Everything is Honky Dory. Things couldn't be better.

Anonymous said...

What can you say about that Shadee Malaklou article except that is the typical thing you see in college papers. These college aggitators are angered when they are ignored but this kind of thing is why- it doesnt even make sense internally.

At least no felony charges are being promoted this time...

Anonymous said...

To 2:54 PM:

You sound like someone who lives in NY or NJ. How do you know that the students from those states who did not apply were the ones with the high test scores? If they bought into the nonsense you guys have been putting out the last few months, they must not have been too bright to begin with.

Anonymous said...

The News & Observer has an article today which states that Duke has received 700 applications this year from children of alumni. Now can that be? I have seen so many posts on this website from people who claimed to be alums and said they would never allow their honor student child to apply to Duke. Do you think all of those posts just came from one guy?

jarms said...

On the concept of academic freedom, the basis of the term “scholarship” comes from a Greek word meaning “leisure.” Part of the social contract between the academic profession and the society at large is that society provides scholars leisure (including professional status, security, and – to use my professional term – “qualified privilege” for expression of opinion) in return for receiving thoughtful, unvarnished “truth.” In this sense, scholars are in similar position to judges, legislators, attorneys, clergy, physicians, journalists and a host of others whose job functions could not be performed effectively without some level of protection for what they do say, and allowance for what they do not (and should not be required to) say.

In this case, a portion of the Duke faculty chose to claim the “privilege” of stating their beliefs without paying for it through studied (leisurely) analysis of a situation designed to produce truth. In fact, the so-called Group of 88 was not engaged in the reasoned analysis of a situation (as befits its profession) but rather in advocacy for a particular sub-group within the “Duke community.” (I submit that advocacy, without study, is not within the ambit of any profession, as we have seen, albeit belatedly, with the action of the NC Bar against Mr. Nifong.)

Now, while unstudied advocacy is not entitled to the protection that K.C. suggests may claimed by some (“leave academics free from outside criticism of anything they say or do”), it is also not, in itself, a matter potentially necessitating professional discipline. Unfortunately, in order to advocate for its chosen sub-group, the Group of 88 felt the need to hold up another sub-group, its own students to whom it owed some professional duty, to public recrimination. That, I believe, is a matter necessitating professional discipline. Such disciplinary action would not, in any way, encroach on the Group of 88’s professional rights, since they were not acting within the scope of their professional activity – something they really need to recognize here.

The fact is, the Group of 88 could have made its point (that the larger “Duke community” is insensitive to racial issues) in complete freedom by refraining from citing the LAX situation as proof of its hypothesis until the facts were known. The promoters within the group simply lacked the discipline to do so.

Anonymous said...

to 3:46- well said!!

Gayle Miller said...

After reading through the various comments, I have concluded that overcomplication has resulted from this triangulation of town, gown and the blogsphere.

It is really quite simple.

The accuser made false accusations by way of multiple, multiple stories.

Prosecutor fighting for his political life seizes upon the golden issue ("rich" white boys, black stripper, supposedly heinous crime) and won't let go, thus insuring his re-election. He promises that if there is no DNA evidence to support the charges, he will not go to a grand jury.

Faculty at Duke University, possessed of more hubris than brains, immediately take the "guilty until proven innocent" position. The President of the University promises to suspend the entire lacrosse team and fires the coach if charges are filed, which they are and he does. So much for due process by anyone at Duke.

There was no forensic evidence to support ANY of her charges and exculpatory forensic evidence to refute her charges (the DNA of at least 3 other men in or on her body - none of them her boyfriend, none of them a Duke lacrosse player).

The 3 lacrosse players are indicted despite no DNA evidence linking them to the purported crime. Two are suspended from school (the 3rd graduated just before the indictments come down).

Despite the exculpatory evidence proving that at least TWO of the three indicted players were elsewhere at the time the supposed rape occurred and the multiple conflicting stories told by the accuser, the prosecutor insists on pursuing the case - and frequently does so in the news media.

A preliminary hearing is held at which the defense attorneys force a witness to reveal that not only is there NO evidence against the lacrosse players, the prosecutor has been concealing evidence of other gentleman who have had sexual congress with this young woman.

Despite all of the PROOF that everybody jumped the gun and wrongfully accused three INNOCENT young men of all manner of heinous acts on the endlessly changing word of a young woman who has a huge problem with veracity and consistency, the Gang of 88 is OFFENDED and thinks that their free speech is being violated because they are being CRITICIZED in the blogsphere for their asinine behavior. You know what, they can kiss my big Hungarian - - -!

Academia has become entirely too cloistered from reality and it has become a refuge for scoundrels. What everyone involved in this entire situation has managed to do is to make a diploma from Duke worth precisely NOTHING - after many parents (and not all parents with kids at Duke are rich or even comfortably off - they SACRIFICE to send their kids there) have spent a bloody fortune trying to give their kids the best education possible.

WHAT A P.O.S. SPECTACLE this entire situation has been!

Anonymous said...

This case just reaffirms to me that Modern Feminism is nothing but a witch hunt that, far from seeking equality, wishes to place women in the position of judge, jury and executioner.

Watching the shenanigans of the politically correct psuedo sciences as they attempt to foist their marxist agendas on a shocked public made me sick.

I think the best thing the United States could do is outlaw feminism and racial studies as hate speech, set up a new department called HUMANISM....or, just take anthropology.

Surely there is some employment for the bitter feminists and socialists in the humanities dept at duke? Perhaps stripping?

Anonymous said...

Hey, 3:06!

I thought you lefty apologists were into "diversity"??

Whatsamatta? You dont like pesky northerners who pay full tuition and have high SAT's? Well, now Duke can be like all those other "full service" southern Universities... Hey, as long as the moonbat faculty are happy, no trouble!

Anonymous said...

What's the best thing ever to come out of Durham?

A. Karla Holloway
B. Chan Hall
C. Mike Nifong
D. I-85

Yep, time to hit the road, folks!