Alums: withhold your support

As a Republican I watched in horror as our party dedicated to limiting government did just the opposite for six years while controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress. Yet, throughout it all, donations were piling up and the voters stayed loyal at the booths. Why? Because we didn't want to hurt our beloved party.

And what did our unmitigated support achieve? The sacrifice of the very values that created our loyalty in the first place-and a historic opportunity lost to fix our government and take our party to new heights.

Whether it be a political party, a local church or a major university, if those who support an institution fail to hold it accountable, no matter what it does, then things will never improve, and ultimately, will become only worse.

Such is the case at Duke. The lacrosse scandal brought to light in a new way many of the tragic problems facing our University and the unwillingness of the administration to correct them.

If we truly love Duke, and truly support its students, then we will take action to repair the University we love and to protect all its students present and future. If we truly love Duke, then we will demand that it live up to its ideals.

What sense is it for alumni to criticize Duke, see Duke be totally unresponsive to their criticisms and then to keep the checks rolling in? Is it any wonder Duke perpetually ignores the grievances of its students and alumni?

The faculty handbook, which lays out some very basic professional standards to which professors must adhere, forbids attacks on students such as those we saw in the wake of the lacrosse allegations. The ad from the Group of 88 goes against almost every tenet of what it means to be a professor. Yet Brodhead refuses to issue even a verbal condemnation.

Duke professors made statement after statement, without any basis or justification, maligning and attacking Reade, Collin and David and the rest of the lacrosse team. Did the University do anything to protect its students from these assaults?

Professor Kim Curtis, all evidence seems to indicate, failed Kyle Dowd simply because he was on the lacrosse team. Did our administration stand up for his rights? Are they protecting future students from Curtis?

Professors are alleged to have gone on anti-lacrosse tirades in the classroom, even bringing people to tears. Was the administration there for those students?

Ryan McFadyen was crucified before a nation for sending a private e-mail to his friends playing off of the film American Psycho. The other e-mails in the exchange demonstrated he was making a movie reference-but that wasn't shared with the public. Did Duke set the record straight? No, they suspended him at the height of condemnation and misinformation.

And every day at Duke there are students who instead of being educated, are being indoctrinated in the classroom.

Are these the values of the University we love? Is this the behavior alumni wish to underwrite with their support?

The argument has been made that withholding support would punish an entire university for the actions of a few. First of all, I wouldn't casually dismiss the behavior of at least 88 professors along with our administration and University president, as the mere actions of a few.

More importantly, to withhold support until the University begins to address some of these problems is not punishing the University. It is rescuing it. To punish the University would be let it do whatever it wants without a hint of consequence or accountability.

The best thing we can do for the students of Duke, and our many great professors, is to use the power of alumni support to institute changes for the good of all and to propel Duke beyond every other major university in the nation that suffers the crippling problem of radical faculty and weak administrators.

If a large number of Duke alumni, or alternatively, just a handful of our biggest donors, offered only the threat of withdrawing funds until serious efforts at reform are underway, Duke would not lose even a cent of money. Why? Because before you could blink your eyes, the administration would be scrambling to appease its donor base.

Fail to do this, however, and every year Duke will resemble less and less the school that alumni love.

Stephen Miller is a Trinity senior. His column runs every other Monday.


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