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Letter to the editor

As I have watched the coverage of the sit-in at Allen, I can’t help but notice the links between the student outrage now and the similar reaction to the Duke lacrosse case in 2006. As of this moment, the facts regarding the allegation against Tallman Trask are not public knowledge and will probably forever remain unknown. The demands for fair treatment of contracted workers and Duke employees are understandable and should be commended. However, we must tread carefully when we seek punitive measures that would do irreparable damage to three administrators’ lives and reputations without knowing the facts. Those administrators are members of the Duke family and they deserve to be viewed as innocent until we know more concretely that they have committed any wrongdoing rather than blindly accepting allegations as truth and demanding their dismissal from this family.

Ten years ago, members of the Duke community rushed to judgment and forever harmed the lives of innocent Duke students because the allegations fit a narrative and ideology that they wanted to support. About a month ago, “Fantastic Lies”, a documentary released by ESPN, described the events of the Duke lacrosse case and brought our university’s largest stain back into the public eye. It largely spared our administrators and professors who jumped to judgment but should we? Those Duke community members abandoned and condemned their own students, yet they are still here and some have even advanced professionally in that time.

In the meantime, before we know more about the Trask case, maybe some students can protest against an administrator they continue to negotiate with who played a role in a significantly more famous injustice. If not, I can continue to wonder why this case, similarly brought to light long after the event, spurred such intense protest while the worst racially-charged injustice in the history of this university is of little interest to these same students despite it’s revival in public interest.

Chris Mengel

Trinity '14, Fuqua '15

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