Friday, January 13, 2012

The Reichert Rules

Though Duke’s race/class/gender-dominated humanities faculty members embarrassed themselves in their response to the lacrosse case, faculty in the hard sciences and engineering behaved very differently. Indeed, only one member of the Group of 88, Ronen Plessler, came from any of the sciences or engineering departments.

That said, on the one occasion in which a science professor did try to imitate his “activist” colleagues—when “Counselor” Thomas Crowley hung his shingle for readers of the Herald-Sun—the result was humiliation and a quick backtrack.

Biomedical Engineering professor William Reichert should have learned Crowley’s lesson. In what’s described as a guest “commentary” in today’s Chronicle, Reichert begins by complaining about SportsCenter devoting excessive coverage to the Jerry Sandusky case, thereby disturbing his workout. This situation—not, it seems, Sandusky’s alleged crime, but ESPN’s coverage, from which for unknown reasons he could not avert his eyes—left him “stewing . . . for weeks and weeks,” until, finally, he elected to turn to the pages of the Chronicle. (Did Deadspin, known for its biting ESPN commentary, reject his submission?)

From the Sandusky affair, Reichert moved on to a . . . curious . . . recapitulation of the lacrosse case. He confessed that “senseless behavior,” which he did not specifically define, left him with feelings of “anger” and “shame.” Of what senseless behavior, then, did he speak? His colleagues’ rush to judgment and their abandoning the basic requirements of the Faculty Handbook? The local prosecutor’s violating myriad ethical standards? The Durham newspaper’s decision to turn a blind eye to the abuses?

None of these developments appeared to produce either “shame” or “anger” for Dr. Reichert—in itself a revealing insight into his character. His “shame” or “anger” came from the “behavior of students”—presumably the lacrosse players, rather than the potbangers, though Reichert is careful not to say so (perhaps for legal reasons?). Fortunately, however, there was a hero of the affair: Richard Brodhead, who showed “courage” in prematurely terminating the 2006 lacrosse season, fully aware of “the blow back [sic] that was sure to come.”

This claim is a little bit like Cathy Davidson’s reinvention of spring 2006 as a time of terror for black students on the Duke campus. Brodhead’s canceling the lacrosse season required no courage at all. Faculty “activists” were demanding it, the team itself had virtually no supporters on campus at the time, and then-BOT chairman Bob Steel considered it a necessary sacrifice for public relations purposes.

Brodhead, in short, received virtually no “blow back” for the decision, at least at the time. Indeed, the only way in which Reichert’s “blow back” claim makes any sense would be if he’s suggesting that Brodhead fully believed that the accused students were innocent but cancelled the season anyway, thereby anticipating a “blow back” once outsiders (even the biased New York Times) came to criticize the university for its guilt-presuming action.

A question: could it be that Reichert’s other title—“Associate Dean for Diversity”—accounted for his Group of 88-like interpretation of the lacrosse case?


Anonymous said...

Why is it that Duke seems to have cornered the market for "academic" wing-nuts and ass-clowns? Is Duke truly an academic employer "of last resort"? What else is Duke Univ. known for (aside from mens basketball) beyond PC tripe and the Duke Law Hoax/scandal?

Anonymous said...

It's the same old theme: the players are responsible for the scandal (not Mangum, not Duke's tepid and self-serving response; not Nifong).

I expect this mantra to be repeated as the suits come closer to resolution.

Anonymous said...

'He confessed that “senseless behavior,” which he did not specifically define, left him with feelings of “anger” and “shame.”'

Does any one else feel like vomiting whenever they read how someone is left in 'anger', or 'shame', or 'shocked', or 'saddened', etc? I don't know what it is. These just seem like false emotions. As if this fake emoting is somehow genuine.

I highly doubt any of these characters were angered or shamed by the entire affair. In fact, I would argue they were happy because the facts as they saw them confirmed their world view. Yes, no proof of this, it's entire conjecture and perhaps unfair but that's how I see it.

Chris Halkides said...

One infers that Professor Reichert wishes Penn State had concelled the remainder of its football season; I cannot understand what that would have accomplished (other than impeding Penn State's ability to move forward). How much better would Duke have been if more of its professors had adopted the standard of in loco parentis, as Professor Baldwin in chemistry did.

Anonymous said...

Well, since Duke is so steeped in political correctness, it looks like this guy wants to move up the academic ladder, maybe become a Dean or leapfrog to Provost. He needs to show how well he "fits in"-- especially as he is from Engineering.

I am sure the BOT saw this and nodded with approval-- Reichert is a man for higher office at Duke.

Anonymous said...

Thought readers might enjoy the ABA Amicus Brief regarding a prosecutor's ethical obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense. These requirements are even more exacting than Brady. Glad the ABA is making the case. It's a good one. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Keep shining the light KC. At this point, it is obvious Brodhead and the radical faculty will not be held accountable short of a judgment in the lawsuit, and even then Duke will fight to the death before accepting responsiblity. While alums like me may have to accept that Brodhead and the radical faculty will be rewarded, it is important to lay the foundation for Brodhead's legacy so that the first thing that is raised about him and defines his tenure is his cowardice in the Nifong/Duke fraud.

In addition to being an alem, I recruit at Duke for my employer. TO this day, they will argue until they are blue in the face that they (especially Brodhead) handled it beautifully at the time, and the lacrosse players were just bad guys who tried to foul up the school. And they really believe that nonsense.


Anonymous said...

Another thought regarding Duke's position vis a vis the LAX team: perhaps there is some similarity between the Duke position regarding the outrageous behavior of its administrators and much of the faculty and the recent cheating scandal in the Atlanta, GA public schools. The BOT (unless they are largely in the dark about the that possible?), President Brodhead et. al. seem to have concluded that doubling down on the Duke's past mistakes is the best course of action. Promote the pot bangers, pretend Duke has done nothing wrong and fight the civil suits all out.

The Atlanta, GA public school cheating scandal seemingly generated similar behavior where the administrators and teachers who supported the massive cheating thoroughly intimidated and silenced those who tried to point out the blatant wrongdoing. Only a truly independent investigation could bring the depth of the problems to light. Let's hope the civil suits can serve that important function in Durham. Here's a link to a report on the GA cheating scandal.

Duke has a lot riding on obscuring its role in the LAX scandal (prestige, rankings, money). The administrators in GA had a lot riding on keeping the cheating scandal under wraps as well.

In both situations, we see a lot of adults in important and responsible positions engaging in amazingly bad behavior to the great detriment of the young people in their charge. It seems that ultimately in GA they may have to come clean and clean house; it remains to be seen whether that will happen at Duke.

It is my understanding that despite the overwhelming effort to keep the cheating secret, the press actually fulfilled its intended function in Atlanta and brought the facts to the attention of the public. Thank you KC for continuing the dogged process of making public the disturbing aftermath of the Duke LAX scandal.


Anonymous said...

This is a link to a story about a man named Kenya Mangum, a Durham man, who murdered his wife, Amanda Mangum, by stabbing her to death and running off with their three children this past summer. Does anyone know if he is related to Crystal Gail Mangum?
Such an odd coincidence.


Anonymous said...

To Haunches @ 11:25

Why on earth would you continue to recruit for Duke? Personally, I cut ties years ago, before the lax fiasco, due to the what I was reading in the Duke Magazine. Duke's values were no longer mine. The lax incident removed any lingering doubt I may have had.

Thank you, KC, for continuing to expose the nonsense.

Jim In San Diego said...

When I was in the Army (a long, long time ago), we used to call behavior like Prof Reichert's "boot-licking".

You degraded yourself before your superior in the hope and expectation you would be rewarded. The reward would come, of course, from the boot-licking. Not from any merit of yours.

The behavior was uniformly despised by everyone in the barracks. Unfortunately, it also worked.

"Plus ca change, plus ca ne change pas." (nothing changes).

Jim Peterson