Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back in Business/Fraudulent Posting?

We've been quiet for a while as we have all been on Thanksgiving break, but we are back now!

A number of people have brought a certain blog and poll on to our attention. Though "Rob," the owner of the blog, quotes our mission statement, we have no idea who he is, and if he has any connection to our organization, then it is news to us. He claims that Duke professor Dr. Karla Holloway will be subjected to an ethics hearing by the student body. If there is any basis to that claim, then it is even more shocking news to us. The posting, however, seems at the moment to be a fraud.

In Rob's profile, he claims that he is "entering [his] senior year," that he is a "member of student government, and the paper (The Duke Chronicle)", and that he "sit[s] on Greek Council." As one of our members has pointed out, the way that "Rob" refers to what almost all members of the paper simply call "The Chronicle" and what any Greek at Duke knows is the "Inter-fraternity Council" or "IFC" raises questions about the veracity of his entire profile.

We will post anything of significance that we learn about "Rob" or this claim of his.

[Edited 4:24 pm 12/07/07]
We have removed the links to "Rob's" sodahead blog. We do not wish to direct traffic there.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Letter to the Editor

Elliott's Column

Correspondence with Elliott Prior to Column

Elliott's Full Correspondence with KC Johnson

Dr. Gustafson's Chronicle Correction

Letter sent to the Chronicle [letter published]:

I am profoundly hurt and disappointed by what Elliott has produced here, but I am especially appalled at the way Elliott has gone about producing it. We are all (DSED and Friends/partners) preparing a well-reasoned, fair, and well informed response to Elliott's column, not only a necessity but also a courtesy to Elliott that we believe he has not extended to us, nor is it what he has provided to the readers of the Chronicle. I hope that in addition to this letter, the Chronicle will publish that response defending our integrity with the same publicity with which Elliott has besmirched it.

In the meantime visit our Blog,, where you will find much of the substantiation that he demanded and that I provided to him. Elliott made it clear that unless I betrayed my own integrity by revealing to him anonymous sources, he was going to publish a column attempting to eviscerate DSEDuke and me. Though I easily substantiated my arguments - indeed I bent over backwards to meet his absurd time demands - with publicly available sources, he ignored them.

With some minor modifications to a single sentence from my piece in the NRR, I stand by my arguments as I have done my research. We welcome criticism, and as Dr. Gustafson will attest, we often have to pry it from him.

However, it is a bit much to be accused of things like “plagiarism” and “rush to judgment” in a defamation piece for which the near entirety of “investigation,” let alone writing, was conducted long after Elliott’s deadline for submission of the column. Equally odd was the absurd claim we are “rapidly losing support,” substantiated by a flagrant, malicious misquote of Dr. Gustafson (intentional or not) and anonymous “chron[icle message board] postings,” according to Elliott, who accused us of substantiating with “hearsay” and “gossip.”

Regarding what he calls our lack of “policy objectives,” Elliott did not even inquire about them, nor did he ask about any of our non-lacrosse related initiatives. We have not sought publicity for much of what we have done because we wait until we have done our due diligence. We invite the Chronicle to do a story on our other objectives in the near future.

Elliott has made a variety of mistakes and wildly misappropriated several quotes. While he included a quote of which I am quite proud, he left out the most important sentence: “similarly, when we are shown to be wrong, we must readily admit that we are wrong.” I am committed to that statement, and we hope Elliott will make the same humble commitment. I do not know what has prompted this betrayal of his usual journalistic integrity or his rush to discredit us, but we hope that we will be able to continue working for a better, ethical Duke together.

Ken Larrey
Duke Students for an Ethical Duke

Saturday, November 17, 2007

DSED Department of Attributions/Clarifications/Corrections/Proper MLA citations: Errata

[message from Ken Larrey regarding his argument in the New Right Review. The online version contains at least one significant mistake that somehow arose in the editing process, but I believe that mistake was corrected in the print version, though the online version has yet to be updated. As written in the online version, the editor made a modification that has me stating that first amendment rights do not apply to faculty members, which was news to me]

One of the problems when submitting articles for fact-checking, editing, and review to someone who already knows a great deal about the relevant facts is that though both of us may understand what I mean, it may not be clear to others. Especially in an argumentative piece like this one that requires interpretations of fact on the part of the author, that can be a problem.

Precision and accuracy are important, even for irrelevant matters. There were a couple of corrections that I would like to make to my argument in the New Right Review, and you may judge their importance.

1) "what Brodhead termed the 'Good Neighbor Policy'"
According to KC Johnson, the "Good Neighbor Policy" was a nickname among administrators for the described policy or approach. However, we do not actually have Brodhead on record using that term.

2) “it was Duke that collaborated with police and [Alcohol Law Enforcement] to illegally raid student off campus houses without warrants—well in excess of 100 instances"
There were well in excess of 100 citations thrown out by judges because of the lack of warrants. However, as written, 100 instances seems to refer to "raid[s]," which was not the intent. Though this was not Elliott's objection (and actually he overlooked that too), this would nevertheless qualify as sloppy writing.

Also, in the context of the entire paragraph the meaning is much clearer [this is where knowledge of the facts can get in the way], but the argument is that Duke collaborated with the Durham Police in developing and/or approving the policies that led to this sort of police behavior that was abusive of Duke students. No, I was not trying to convince anyone that Dean Bryan went running around with Mark Gottleib threatening to deport people and dragging half asleep college students down stairs. I had taken that assumption for hilarious as the idea might be.

3) "so that Judicial Affairs could subject them to Duke justice"
Here is what I perceive to be the only mistake of noteworthy significance in the argument, and this is where Elliott did have a point. Including this statement as I did implied that Duke's intent in all of this was to be able to subject them to "Duke justice," and that is not something I am prepared to substantiate publicly. There is, however, ample reason to argue that this was the DPD's intent and ALE's intent - so that Judicial Affairs would subject them to Duke justice even though a court would have to throw out the citations - and that is what I want readers to take from all of this. Equally important is that Duke proved completely indifferent to these abuses and indeed seemed to support them by continuing to apply "Duke justice" based on this illegally obtained information.

So while Elliott is correct that there was some sloppy writing in this single sentence from my argument, I am nonetheless taken aback by his assault on Duke Students for an Ethical Duke, and we look forward to the opportunity to respond to a number of his statements of "fact."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

DSED Department of Attributions/Clarifications/Corrections/Proper MLA citations

[A message from Ken Larrey regarding his argument in the New Right Review]

Elliott Wolf had a few questions regarding my argument in the New Right Review and a few unclear points and minor errors have come to my attention that I would like to address. First of all, he argues that I probably should have attributed certain facts to sources (anonymous or otherwise) even though I was writing an argument (perhaps you could call it an op-ed, but it was one side of a two sided argument) rather than a newspaper story. I'm not sure what journalistic conventions or obligations may apply to such a piece (especially because I am not a journalist, and I'm not sure an argument is "journalism"), but nonetheless I will try to do so below just in case.

There were three passages that he specifically brought to my attention:

Passage 1 (in these passages I am quoting Elliott's rehashing of quotes from my argument)
administrators handed over troves of players’ confidential information that was later used to frame suspects and obtain indictments…[and] Nifong went out of his way to do favors such as his attempted cover up [sic] for this illegally leaked information.
Elliott questioned the basis for this statement. Though there are many ways to substantiate this statement, the easiest is to cite KC Johnson's Blog entry entitled Sunday Roundup from 6/22/07 which states:
the only time when the regular Durham judiciary (Judges Stephens and Titus) stood up to Mike Nifong was last July, when Judge Kenneth Titus rejected Nifong’s request for keycard records of the non-indicted players. Titus cited the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA). [...] the material released by the Bar suggests that “Duke University had already turned these records over to police months earlier in March evidently in violation of FERPA.”
As Gottleib testified in his deposition for Nifong's Bar hearing, this information was used in obtaining indictments. First of all, typically when I make a statement in this argument regarding someone's intentions, I figure it is implied that unless I state otherwise, I am making an educated intimation. Obviously calling it a "favor," whether it was intended as a favor or not, is a judgment call on my part and part of the argument, and I believe it is a fair one.

Passage 2
the Lacrosse Ad Hoc Review Committee, the Campus Culture Initiative and so on were planned several days before the McFadyen [sic] email became public and coach Pressler was fired. Brodhead was simply waiting for the right opportunity.
Here is the statement that I was referring to from Until Proven Innocent page 139:
Brodhead did not stop with banishing McFadyen. Accelerating plans that had already been made, he canceled the team’s season once and for all. He also appointed a gaggle of committees, to examine: (1) “persistent problems involving the men’s lacrosse team, including racist language and a pattern of alcohol abuse and disorderly behavior”—a statement misleadingly suggesting that these Duke students were racists even while a race-pandering prosecutor was making an identical case to Durham voters and potential jurors; (2) his own administration’s response to the crisis, especially complaints that it should have taken harsher action, sooner, against the team; (3) Duke’s disciplinary process; and (4) “campus culture,” including “personal responsibility,” “consideration for others,” and drinking. A fifth committee consisted of supposedly “wise figures” to advise Brodhead and the Board of Trustees. [emphasis added]
Upon second glance I realize that there are other interpretations to the emboldened text, but it was my interpretation that it applied to all of the plans in this paragraph. Because I can't imagine that plans to cancel a season would be complicated enough to require a period of several days or weeks between the decision and the cancellation or announcement, my instinct was that KC was referring to all of these plans. If I am incorrect in interpreting KC's intent, then that is why. Even if I am incorrect in that interpretation [I will update when he responds], then I would not be surprised my argument is nonetheless correct for at least some of the committees, and I will see if I can find other sources that shed light on this. As Elliott acknowledged to me, "one statement from the academic concil [sic] talked about the review committee before the email, but not the cci [sic]." If I did make a mistake, it was relatively insignificant and benign.

Given that Brodhead pulled four more committees out of his pocket on the same day that the McFayden email was released to the public, my guess would be that some sort of plans had been in the works. After all, which takes longer: "planning" the cancellation of a lacrosse season or outlining and organizing five separate committees with separate and formidable tasks? You decide.

Passage 3
“it was Duke that collaborated with police and [Alcohol Law Enforcement] to illegally raid student off campus houses without warrants—well in excess of 100 instances—so that Judicial Affairs could subject them to Duke justice.”
My sources behind this statement are all necessarily anonymous and I will keep them that way for the time being. Now apparently I misunderstood the precise relationship between ALE and the Durham Police. I am aware that ALE and the Durham Police collaborate a great deal, though that does not necessarily mean that policies discussed or arranged between Duke administrators and the Durham Police are actually discussed with ALE as well, even if they both act on them together or separately but in similar ways. Given what my sources have explicitly said, technically I should probably have only said that Duke collaborated with the Durham Police in developing and/or approving the policies that led to this sort of behavior. Nonetheless, there is a remarkable similarity in the behavior of ALE and the Durham police, who were in fact working together in many of the actions in question (see next block quote).

Note that in this argument I have not made the allegation that Duke sought out the Durham Police or ALE with these policies as opposed to vis-versa, though I am asserting that they were at the least mutually involved in the process of creating and approving some of these policies. Legally I understand that there is a difference in who approached whom, and maybe civil suits will shed light on that, but is it really any less disturbing to know that Duke approved of a policy like the Good Neighbor policy even if they didn't create it? You decide. That goes perhaps one step further than Until Proven Innocent, which states:
It was to appease neighbors that Duke’s administration had helped devise the police program targeting Duke’s own students for selective arrest and prosecution on petty charges for which other Durhamites would not be arrested. Duke president Richard Brodhead was later to acknowledge this arrangement, which Duke called its Good Neighbor Policy. But this crackdown had elements of a reign of terror. The year began with a series of planned, warrantless raids of student parties off campus. The police, joined by Alcohol Law Enforcement agents, raided several homes in pursuit of underage drinking.
As always, I am happy to answer questions about anything I print or say to the best of my ability and liberty and in a reasonably timely fashion, and the same goes for Duke Students for an Ethical Duke. We are also always willing to issue corrections when it becomes clear they are necessary. I post these explanations because Elliott tells me people have asked him about the these passages, and I figure that others may have similar questions as well.

Ken Larrey
Duke Students for an Ethical Duke

[Edited 10:02 pm 11/17/07]
The above explanations were provided to Elliott Wolf in advance of his November 15 Column entitled "Physician, Heal Thyself." I have not really made any corrections of significance in it of my argument in the New Right Review (there are a couple minor things that I will be happy to correct) in this post, but I do not wish to modify this post (this edit aside) in order that people may see exactly what was provided to and ignored by Elliott in his column.

Monday, November 12, 2007

University of Delaware Diversity Facilitation Training

A recent editorial published in National Journal by Stuart Taylor explains the University of Delaware's "Diversity Facilitation Training" program. The program was ended promptly on October 30th after it gained media coverage and evoked local outrage. We have posted the editorial here in its original form.

Here is the full document produced by the University of Delaware's Office of Residence Life outlining the program.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Follow up on Chronicle Editorial

Most of what needed to be said about the Chronicle's overt agenda, at least for this week, was said in our previous post, so now we will focus more on the argument of the Chronicle Editorial itself, which should seem untenable to even the most modestly knowledgeable reader.

One point before we do: we notified the Chronicle of Stuart Taylor's speech 9 days before the event at the same time we sent press releases to other local media. Not only did both major local newspapers attend, but so did others that were not even sent the press release, including Metro Magazine and a gent from UNCW as well. Noting that there were no Chronicle reporters present, we then offered to bring them the video of the speech the next day. The offer was ignored.

A peculiarity of the editorial is that while it strongly and repeatedly asserts that "Brodhead should and must stay," the arguments made almost seem to argue the opposite. As one of our members joked, it seems the Chronicle decided to let each editor write a line in an editorial Mad Lib.

First of all the Chronicle describes Brodhead as "a president who is academic not managerial." Is there really such a thing as a presidential position that is not managerial in nature? Or do there exist presidential positions that might prefer or even tolerate someone who is "passive not active?" The title implies that Brodhead has "a chance [...] to do the defining," but the editorial then implies that yet another of his character attributes is "his inability to impose his own trajectory on the University." Somehow that also seems to be not merely a "weakness" but another attribute directly antithetical to presidency as well.

His strengths? The case revealed his "academic prudence, appreciation for complexity, willingness to explore deeper issues involved in the case, and capacity for self-criticism." We aren't sure what is meant by "academic prudence," how the case revealed it, or how it was an attribute in the affair, and a "capacity for self-criticism" or self-reflection is something that has been conspicuously absent throughout. Our sources indicate that Brodhead continues to believe he has done nothing wrong, and up to his apology, has asserted that he would have done almost everything the same if he were to start from the beginning again. As we have noted, Brodhead's apology was far more decorative than substantive. As for the other two strengths, it is probably no accident that the Chronicle avoids explaining how those attributes played out in a positive way.

In short, the Chronicle asserted that among Brodhead's weaknesses as a leader and a president are an inability to lead and an inability to manage. On the plus side though, he is an academic. If that doesn't put the writing on the wall...

Also among the peculiar assertions in this Brodhead apologia:

"Brodhead is no longer on the defensive"
The truth is Brodhead came back into the school year believing the lessons of the lacrosse affair needed to be learned by those meddling kids and their booze only to be rudely confronted with a number of lessons that were apparently lost on him. The Blue Committee presidential review just began a review of his presidency after what was likely among the worst demonstrations of administrative responsibility in university history. Even before that he has had to continuously face outraged students and alumni and defend himself in front of the Board of Trustees. Yet he's "no longer on the defensive?" Really?

"the lacrosse case over"
The second time around, Chronicle made a technically accurate statement, if "the lacrosse case" refers only to the rape charges, but it still misses the point completely. The lacrosse case, though over, is a bigger problem for Dick Brodhead than it ever was while heading towards the rocks.

"with all the forces of the world bearing impossibly down on a presidency barely begun"
First, Brodhead had been president for nearly two full years, so it seems a bit of a stretch to use this as an excuse or a significantly mitigating factor.
Second, if this really was an impossible, lose-lose situation for Brodhead, then it should have been that much easier for him to do the right thing, to speak and stick to the truth, NOT to spend over a year overseeing a massive sliming operation of his own students by his own administration and in several cases, by himself, and NOT to oversee efforts by the Duke administration to push this case to trial thereby denying his own students a fair legal process. If he was really destined to lose no matter what he did, isn't that a liberating predicament?
Third, the "uncertain" nature of this "impossible" situation has been DRAMATICALLY exaggerated, indeed invented, by administrators and Brodhead supporters, and this point is worthy of its own post. For the book (Until Proven Innocent) and watch Stuart Taylor's speech.

"Yet because the Presidential Review Committee formed to evaluate the president's performance closed comments last week, we are compelled to offer the students' perspective-incomplete but important-on his performance thus far. We believe that Brodhead should and must stay."
We have already noted our amazement that a couple of Chronicle editors presumed to speak the collective voice of the student body. What is also peculiar is the explanation that the Chronicle feels "compelled to offer the students' perspective" now that the committee just closed though the Blue Committee was going to delete all of the comments they received from students, and our voice needed to be heard via the Chronicle staff.

The editorial as a whole was remarkably unprofessional and seemed to reveal a fairly overt bias and would suggest an attempt by the Chronicle to influence the Blue Committee whether there was a conscious attempt or not. We have come to expect much better from the Chronicle.

On the Brodhead front, we agree that "appreciation for complexity" is a positive attribute for people in just about any position. However, "appreciation for complexity" is one of the most notorious backhanded compliments to bestow upon a leader. Good leaders are able to grasp complex issues and from that comprehensive understanding, arrive at correct conclusions and make good decisions. Good leaders are complimented for their decision making. Implicit in the compliment of an "appreciation for complexity" is the acknowledgment that though an individual might contemplate and analyze matters at length, his analytical process falls short of yielding good decisions.

Everday Hero: Moezeldin Elmostafa

Readers Digest honors Moezeldin Elmostafa, the cab driver who risked much simply to tell the truth, as one of its everyday heroes of the year:

The story of Mr. Elmostafa is heartwarming and remarkable indeed, and Duke Students for an Ethical Duke would like to explore the possibility of bringing him to campus to share his life experiences.

Until Proven Innocent Makes Top Ten List

Congratulations to KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor! Until Proven Innocent made's Top Ten list for non-fiction books, checking in at #4. You might also notice that the average customer review is the full 5 stars out of 5 stars after 41 reviews.

It is rare that an institution such as Duke has the opportunity to receive such insightful, comprehensive critique as KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor have provided. Their dutiful and accurate pursuit of every relevant fact is nothing short of extraordinary. The debt of gratitude owed to these scholars by the Duke community is not lost on Duke Students for an Ethical Duke.

We have yet to hear of a single significant factual error that has not been corrected or a single convincing argument against the integrity of this work, and therefore it has the official endorsement of Duke Students for an Ethical Duke. KC Johnson was kind enough to sign 60 copies of the book before he left for Israel, and there may still be a few signed copies left at the Gothic Bookshop for those who have yet to read it.

Chronicle Intentions Become Clearer

On Monday, we posted on the peculiarity that the Chronicle opted not to report on Stuart Taylor's speech on Duke's own campus while several other, far larger papers did. We also noted that instead, the Chronicle published a highly flattering front page article in the Chronicle on President Richard Brodhead. Specifically, we noted the preposterous and (perhaps) wishful assertion that the "lacrosse scandal [is] nearly behind him." Meanwhile, the Herald Sun published an article of the much more accurate title Author: Lacrosse case will 'get uglier'.

Today, the Chronicle made clear that the absurd assertion was no accident with a staff editorial officially endorsing Brodhead by repeating the assertion with a slight modification. In what has to be one of the worst examples of journalistic hackery, to borrow a bit of vernacular, from the Chronicle, the staff editorial preposterously claims to speak for all Duke Students:

Yet because the Presidential Review Committee formed to evaluate the president's performance closed comments last week, we are compelled to offer the students' perspective-incomplete but important-on his performance thus far.

Simply astonishing. They do not even make mention of conducting a poll.

Duke Students for an Ethical Duke aims to represent, among others, the Duke student body, and to that end we go to great lengths to seek out varied opinions. Though we aim to advocate principle and principle alone (indirectly at times), we do our best to consider all perspectives, and in the end come to educated, measured, and wise conclusions where conclusions are warranted. Though we aim to represent and to serve the students, we could NEVER claim to speak for the students. With every position we take and every perspective we voice, we can speak only for Duke Students for an Ethical Duke, and that is the best we can do.

The Chronicle has no business whatsoever claiming to offer the "students' perspective" - not even in an editorial, and especially not in a staff editorial. Their job is to speak to the students (among others), not for them. Tuesday's editorial voices the opinion of a small handful of Chronicle staffers and should be presented as such. If the combination of Tuesday's staff editorial, Monday's article, and the curiously simultaneous decision not to report Stuart Taylor's speech do not make it clear that Chronicle editors have decided this week to rather overtly dedicate the newspaper toward the advocacy of a single man, then the Chronicle's attempt to claim the "students' perspective" should make it exceedingly clear.

The Chronicle should correct this absurdity and apologize. We have again written to them for comment and will post any reply.

Tomorrow, we will break down the remainder of the editorial itself. We will also post again on Stuart Taylor's speech in the near future.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Stuart Taylor Speech at Duke

The speech by Stuart Taylor sponsored by Duke Students for an Ethical Duke last weekend was a great success! Taylor spoke before a substantially packed Love Auditorium about the path to his involvement in reporting on the lacrosse affair. We have posted a very low quality video of the speech at, also available here. We hope to have a higher quality video available soon.

The crowd was quite impressive considering the number of events occurring on a busy parent's weekend. A number of parents did come and voiced concerns, raised by the lacrosse affair, about the well being of their own children currently attending Duke. Reporters from a variety of local media were in attendance; the Durham Herald Sun, the Raleigh News and Observer, and even UNCW were all represented, among others.

However, conspicuously and curiously unrepresented was the Duke Chronicle, who it seems opted not to report the event occurring on its own campus. Instead, the Chronicle published a front page article on President Brodhead asserting that the "lacrosse scandal [is] nearly behind him." DSEDuke will leave it to readers to judge the objectivity of the rest of the article, but the notion that the lacrosse affair is nearly behind Brodhead is absurd, and reporting it as such is not merely uninformed but dishonest. The Chronicle staff and editors know full well that the lacrosse affair is nowhere close to being a thing of Brodhead's past; quite the contrary, it would seem that Brodhead's problems are just beginning. Had the Chronicle, like other local media, decided to attend Stuart Taylor's speech, they would have had ample reminder of this indisputable fact. Indeed the Chronicle could have simply observed Monica Chen's coverage of the speech in the Herald Sun: Author: Lacrosse case will 'get uglier'

The Chronicle knows full well that the Blue Committee has just gone into deliberation to evaluate Brodhead's performance. If the Chronicle has substantial reason to be able to predict the committee's findings less than a week after the deadline for input, then it should be publishing that as well. Moreover as the Chronicle itself has reported, the university will likely be facing an onslaught of civil lawsuits filed by the remaining lacrosse players, Coach Pressler, and potentially others in the very near future. Far from being behind anyone, the lacrosse affair is about to get ugly for not only the City of Durham, which faces both civil suits from the indicted players and federal investigation for alleged civil rights abuses, but for a number of Duke University administrators. Not only will all of the aforementioned legal battles cost Duke piles of money and bad publicity, but if discovery results from any one of these processes and becomes public, the revelations will almost certainly be embarrassing at best and career-ending at worst for a variety of those involved in the lacrosse affair. Dick Brodhead is right at the center of that group.

As DSEDuke has maintained, if Dick Brodhead is to remain as the Duke president, he has an awful lot of explaining to do. While we do not subscribe to any one interpretation of Brodhead's motives behind a number of his decisions, words, actions and inactions, it is difficult to come up with interpretations that do not reflect poorly on the president, his leadership, his moral courage and his commitment to ethical university policy and policy implementation and enforcement. We believe it is high time that such explanations be heard.

[Edited 6:20 11/5/07]
DSEDuke has emailed the author of the Chronicle article as well as a senior editor at the Chronicle for comment and will post any replies we receive.

Brodhead's Administrative and Ethical Failings

[The New Right Review, a new campus publication, desired a two part piece on Duke President Dick Brodhead and requested that DSEDuke President Ken Larrey compose the argument against the Duke president. The publication also contains an insightful review of Until Proven Innocent written by current DSEDuke treasurer Brian Pike. An unedited and uncut version of Larrey's argument is shown below]

[Edited 3:42 pm 11/14/07]
We have removed the unedited version as the argument has apparently come into question and we wish to avoid confusion as to which argument is being referenced. Ken Larrey has made a couple of minor corrections and/or slight clarifications in a post above, and there may be more to come depending on the allegations made in Thursday's column by Elliott Wolf.

Questionable Hiring Practices by Duke?

Recently, national headlines were made when Duke Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky was initially hired as the founding dean of UC Irvine's new law school, then fired, and then re-hired when the affair brought national scrutiny to the fledgling law school. According to the L.A. Times, Chemerinsky claimed UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake told him that the reason for his temporary firing was "pressure from conservatives over his outspoken liberal politics." Drake has denied the claim, and upon Chemerinsky's rehiring, the two issued a joint statement attributing the confusion to "miscommunication and misunderstanding," but declared that "all issues were resolved to our mutual satisfaction." Though the issue may be resolved, several among the faculty, according to the L.A. Times, are pushing for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Drake over his handling of Chemerinksy's hiring.

Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas W. Kmiec wrote to the L.A. Times in defense of Chemerinsky, noting that Kmiec himself is a conservative who seldom agrees with Chemerinsky on "constitutional outcome." He asserts that Chemerinksy's politics should not matter, only his merit as "one of the finest constitutional scholars in the country."

In a situation that may have certain parallels to UC Irvine's Chemerinsky debacle, guest commentator Wheeler Frost reports in the Chronicle that impeccably qualified historian Mark Moyar, who applied for faculty appointment at Duke University, believes he was rejected based on his political affiliation. Reports Frost, "Moyar graduated first in the history department at Harvard; his revised senior thesis was published as a book and sold more copies than an average history professor ever sells." Given those credentials, what is most surprising is that he was not only rejected, but was denied an interview by Professor Alex Roland who provided no reasons for his refusal. The situation is undeniably peculiar, and if things are as they seem to both Moyar and Frost, it would seem to substantiate what Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson believe is an epidemic of powerful "extremist professors" seeking to "pack departments with more and more ideologically eccentric, intellectually mediocre allies."

Though there are many criteria for hiring professors, it would seem to go without saying that the primary criteria should undoubtedly be merit. Diversity of all kinds is often another desirable trait for an academic department. However if, as Moyar believes, Duke declined to even offer an interview to him based solely on his political affiliation, then it would appear that Duke rejected Moyar in spite of both his merit AND the diversity of thought that he would have provided to Duke's history department. If true, Moyar's rejection would raise a variety of questions about the fundamental ethics of the hiring process for the history department at Duke University.

Therefore, Duke Students for an Ethical Duke intends to explore the issue before rendering any judgments or taking any stance. We will then report back when we have a better understanding.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

DSEDuke Blog Begins

As a perhaps easier way of continually providing new information, we have decided to create a blog in addition to our website This will give us more space, and we intend to use it in conjunction with our website. As an added benefit, we found that apparently Google Blogs allows us to earn revenue for Duke Students for an Ethical Duke by allowing advertisements on the page, so we figured we would try that out as well.

Equally important, the blog format should make it easier for readers to communicate with us and exchange information. Readers will be able to comment on postings to let us know what they think and to share what they might like to contribute, but at least initially, we will keep them hidden. We welcome readers to share with us information, articles, educated views, links etc. that pertain to our cause, and also to send us any questions they might have regarding our posts or our mission in general.

From time to time, we may publish thoughtful comments as posts or as available comments, and we welcome our readers to offer "guest posts" for our consideration. We only request that such offerings be thoughtful, respectful, and relevant to the domain of Duke Students for an Ethical Duke.

Duke Students for an Ethical Duke