Leah Abrams's most recent op-ed, "Stephen Miller: a deviant Chronicle columnist," is written with considerable passion. But I found it odd. Abrams accuses alum Stephen Miller of speaking for, or representing, Duke. Her message is that he did not. But I don't think he pretended to.
Miller harangued Duke, confronted Duke and lectured Duke. My good friend John Burness (former senior vice president for public affairs and government relations) called Miller “the most sanctimonious student I think I ever encountered.” Miller never, as far as I know, said he spoke for Duke.
Abrams, however, actually does presume to speak for Duke, in throwing Miller out of the Duke "culture." Many of us may agree with her personal assessment of Miller, but no one person, or point of view, can "speak for Duke," no matter how passionately one feels the impulse.
My own opinion is that each of us is entitled to our own nuanced (or not) reaction to Miller. But as a matter of Duke as a collective, my view is that we strive to create leaders who are able to assume positions of leadership and authority. Whatever else you think of him, this Miller has done, at a high level and at a young age.
I speak for no one but myself. But for my part, I hope that Miller's example leads more of our students to seek leadership positions in ways that matter, and in which they can serve the public interest as they happen to perceive it. Even if that doesn't fit some restrictive conception of "Duke culture."
Michael Munger is a professor of political science at Duke.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.