The Campus Culture Initiative has become a catchphrase of sorts lately-added as a vague explanation for anything and everything. Aside from a couple of letters to the community, little-to-no concrete information has come out of the CCI.
And that should come as no surprise, says Larry Moneta, vice-chair of the Committee. "It's vague by design," Moneta says. "We said from the beginning that all the work was going to be confidential until the committee submits its report."
The written recommendations from the CCI are expected to be complete this month, and it will be presented to President Richard Brodhead only. It will then be Brodhead's prerogative as to when and if the report will be available to the public.
So, why all the hush?
The Committee chairs, Moneta, vice president for student affairs, and Dean of Trinity College Bob Thompson, assert that it's nothing out of the ordinary, that there's no obfuscation or circumventing going on. But with the resignation of one of its top members, race subcommittee chair and professor of English Karla Holloway, some are beginning to question what exactly the Committee is planning to recommend. Both Moneta and Thompson, the chair of the CCI, have kept mum on the particulars, saying the report will be the jumping off point for a greater dialogue for change. But insiders say that the Committee will offer about 40 recommendations to the President-ranging from the innocuous to the potentially jaw-dropping.
In this last phase of the CCI, a pared-down steering committee has taken the four subcommittees' insights (on alcohol, gender/sexuality, race and athletics) and integrated them for their final recommendations. But a source tells Towerview that the path of some of those subcommittees has been all but calm.
The leader of the athletics subcommittee, Peter Wood, a professor of history who has voiced his often-negative opinions regarding athletics at Duke, presented his subcommittee's recommendations, but a source says his report did not fully encompass the opinions and concerns of his entire subcommittee.
But Moneta insists that was not the case. "Every member of the group has been objective, has been thoughtful, reasoned and reasonable," he says.
And the resignation of Holloway was also a red flag. Holloway offered her resignation from the committee last month in response to the University's invitation to reinstate two indicted lacrosse players. Although the subcommittees had finished their work by the time she resigned, it still surprised many and suggested a lack of support for the University and the CCI.
"The decision by the University to readmit the students, especially just before a critical judicial decision on the case, is a clear use of corporate power, and a breach, I think, of ethical citizenship," Holloway wrote in her resignation letter. "I could no longer work in good faith with this breach of common trust."
It's unclear, though, if the University's decision to reinstate the players was the sole reason Holloway resigned or if it was merely the last straw.
Ultimately, though, the CCI may shed light on long-standing issues at Duke, though the debate on how much students care continues to rage on. While some critics of the Committee see it as mere academic posturing, Moneta cites his many conversations with students-listening to their concerns-as proof of his being in touch with the student voice. He, personally, has met with numerous student groups and stopped individuals on campus to ask their opinions about campus culture.
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"This document is all about the Duke undergraduate experience," Moneta says. "We've heard what students have to say loudly and clearly. And I think this document reflects their concerns."
And while some of the campus' questions will be answered when the report is made public, it's quite probable that it will only be the beginning of the debate.
"What we are doing is overseeing the dialogue of the diagnosis," Moneta says. "The report is just the starting point of thoughtful engagement."