We are impressed with President Richard Brodhead's continued attempts to reach out to all members of the Duke community to promote healing and reconciliation in the wake of last year's lacrosse incident, as evidenced by his recent remarks at the Duke School of Law. We are disheartened, however, by the continued drumbeat of destructive criticism of the administration and faculty by some within and outside the Duke community. More importantly, as chairs of two of the five committees that examined various issues brought to light by the lacrosse incident last spring, we take issue with the biased and inaccurate rhetoric espoused by some of these critics.
Firstly, we reject the characterization put forward by critics like Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson that the Lacrosse Committee report, that examined the past behavior of the lacrosse team, is a "stunning vindication" of the team (Washington Post, September 7, 2007). On the contrary, the report very carefully details a pattern of behavior that the committee characterized as "socially irresponsible" that should "have been a cause for alarm." Dismissing this finding as trivial is a biased and unjustified misrepresentation of the facts.
Secondly, there is a recurring theme advanced by critics like Taylor and Johnson that the faculty at Duke and at other universities are increasingly a bunch of ideologues who care less about the their students and more about promoting their own extremist agendas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Faculty at Duke, as at other universities and colleges, care deeply about students and are passionately committed to their personal and intellectual growth. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the daily life of a faculty member will quickly appreciate the time, effort and energy that faculty put into teaching, advising and mentoring students. To suggest otherwise, on the basis of isolated and selective incidents that occur over the course of complex events and are taken out of context, is nothing more than a tragic rush to judgment.
Professor of the Practice of Law
Duke School of Law
Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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