Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lawsuit Breakdown: Duke's Treatment of Breck Archer

[The series Lawsuit Breakdown will attempt to highlight the main points of the lawsuit filed on 12/18/07 by attorneys for Ryan McFayden, Matt Wilson and Breck Archer with a focus on Duke University's involvement in the scandal.]

The section covering Duke's treatment of Breck Archer is concise enough that we have posted the entirety of it below. Though the incident predates the lacrosse affair, it is yet another example cited by Ekstrand of what he alleges are a long-standing dislike of and bias against the lacrosse team and lacrosse players by Dean Bryan. The section proceeds as follows from p. 221 of the lawsuit:

In the Summer of 2005, Breck Archer was called into Defendant Stephen Bryan’s office to answer to a charge that damage was done to his room during a party. The room was only technically Breck’s at the time of the party; he had not moved in, he did not have a key to it, and he was not present at the party.

Nevertheless, Bryan punished Breck with community service hours at the Duke Gardens. Breck completed the hours, notified Defendant Bryan of his completion, but did not submit a form Bryan expected to receive.

Based upon Beck’s failure to submit the form after completing all of his community service requirements, Defendant Bryan convened a Judicial Affairs panel of students and faculty hand-picked by Bryan. At the close of evidence, Defendant Bryan remained in the room with the panel for the deliberations. Upon information and belief, Bryan influenced the panel to vote to suspend Breck, in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and the Faculty Handbook.

The panel suspended Breck for the 2005 fall semester for “failure to comply.”

Upon information and belief, until Breck, no one in the history of Duke University has been suspended or otherwise separated from the University for a semester for failing to submit a form documenting work that was completed as required.

Defendant Bryan did not have a basis in the Student Code of Conduct to punish Breck for damage done at a party he did not attend, nor did Defendant Bryan have a basis in the Student Code of Conduct to suspend Breck for failing to turn in a form.

[Edited 11:36 PM 1/18/08]
Also unique to Breck Archer is that an email was sent from his account on April 13, 2006 by "conspirators whose identities are not yet known" (p. 250) stating "'I am going to go to the police tomorrow to tell them everything that I know'" (p. 250). Breck never sent this email, nor did he permit anyone to send it.


Jim in San Diego said...

I hope many Duke students are reading this series of articles.

Reflect upon what these allegations mean to your personal security during your years at Duke

Jim Peterson

W. R. Chambers said...

By that description Bryan is a miserable prick. It can't be true. And if the description of the evidence and of what the Judicial Affairs Panel did is accurate, the members of the panel, whoever they were, should be ashamed: they had no brains, no guts, no common sense. There must be much more to the story.

Ethical Duke said...

We must always be aware that there might be more to a story, but it is highly unlikely that Ekstrand would intentionally fabricate precise and simple matters of fact. We should all look forward to hearing Bryan's response to these allegations as well as Duke's responses to the rest of the lawsuit.

W. R. Chambers said...

Is there a public record of the hearing before the inartfully named Judicial Affairs panel, including the names of the panel members?

So as it stands, at Duke, failure to file a "discipline completion" form is punishable by semester suspension?

What kind of place is Duke? Are there any adults there? Anybody with any sense of perspective, common sense, fairness? I know the answer to that question is yes. What I don't understand is how something as important as a Judicial Affairs panel could go so badly off the rails. There has to be more to the story, doesn't there?

Ethical Duke said...

There are records of judicial hearings, but they are not public. The record of Breck Archer's hearing will undoubtedly be evidence central to this part of the case.

Jim in San Diego said...

I tend to agree with w.r. chambers reaction that the alleged behavior of Stephen Bryan is so preposterous it is hard to believe. There must be more to the story.

As difficult as it is to bite our tongue, perhaps on this one we should withhold judgment.

Although, DSED has a valid point that it is also hard to believe detailed, presumably verifiable allegations from someone of the background and reputation of Mr. Ekstrand are false.

It is difficult to swallow the picture of a vindictive, small minded martinet having unlimited, unsupervised, and unreviewed power over the continuing education of our children. This happened, and continues to happen, at Duke University?

This is not Berlin, 1936. Is it?

"Say it ain't so, Joe".

We shall see.

Jim Peterson

Judith said...

I have up-close and personal experience with the "fairness" of Dean Stephen Bryan. My son was accused of Lying by Kim Curtis (yes, that Kim Curtis) in the Spring of 2004.

She accused him of turning a paper in a day late in March 2004, and then lying about it. He was in Army ROTC and a student athlete.

Dean Bryan notified him of this charge AFTER classes and finals in the May of 2004, and his "Hearing" was held in early September, BEFORE classes even started.

The Judicial Advisor he was referred to during the summer was conveniently "on leave" and the second one had left the Advisor program. He finally met an available Judicial Advisor less than 24 hours before his hearing.

She told me that had she had the time, she would have researched all other cases of Lying, but she was not allowed to keep researching the files, because it was after 5 PM and Dean Bryan needed to leave.

After my son was found Guilty of Lying, and suspended for two semesters, he was given 48 hours to vacate his dorm room on Craven Quad. Dean Bryan considerately inactivated his DukeCard so that he could not even GET INTO HIS DORM to move out, or even buy a meal.

I have written about my son's situation before, on DIW and FODU, and I have trepidation now, because I still have two children who are students at Duke.

In our case, my son jumped through the appropriate hoops, was allowed back into Duke, and graduated. He has moved on, and we have moved on.

But I often wonder about students who have also been targeted by rogue faculty or administration, and who may not have the support and resources to return to Duke.

So I don't think that Duke's treatment of Breck Archer was unique. I think that the Judicial System has been used on occasion as a tool to punish students for not adhering to the agenda of certain members of the faculty and administration.

Anonymous said...


"because I still have two children who are students at Duke."

Why in the world would you continue to send your children to Duke?