Wednesday, January 30, 2008
We promoted the event (albeit with late start) with an attempt to attract a diverse audience, both ethnically, ideologically and intellectually. We encouraged attendees to prepare to ask tough, penetrating questions during the Q&A with Thor and Evan. Evan and Thor were fantastic. With the exception of perhaps one question, we were somewhat disappointed that neither was ever really challenged. Thor in particular was remarkably insightful, animated and inspiring in his responses.
It was also wonderful to meet them in person. Evan and Thor both joined all of us for dinner afterwards at the Washington Duke Inn.
We are currently lobbying for them to create a documentary on the Duke Lacrosse Affair.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
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.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
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.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Matthew Wilson was cited for Driving While Impaired in Chapel Hill in May of 2006, six days after David Evans was indicted. He accepted responsibility for his mistake and entered a guilty plea at his first court appearance. He sought counseling from Duke's Counseling And Psychological Services (CAPS), but was told that because he was not enrolled in the summer session, he was not eligible.
Matthew's DWI was discovered by Duke University when it became front page news and even national news after a reporter cross-referenced new court files against the CrimeStoppers Wanted poster. Ekstrand then notes that "Duke University unilaterally suspended Matthew from the lacrosse team indefinitely and made multiple public statements to representatives of the press to ensure the University's disciplinary action against Matthew was widely known" (p. 219). Next, "Defendant Bryan told Matthew and his father that he was referring Matthew to a Judicial Board hearing, in which he expressly stated that Matthew would be suspended for two semesters. Defendant Bryan falsely stated - repeatedly - that it was "the policy" to suspend for two semesters all students who are charged with Matthew's offense" (p. 219). Ekstrand also notes that it is also false that Bryan's office suspended for two semesters every student cited with that charge.
Fearing for the publicity generated by Matthew's citation and Duke's public announcements, Matthew's parents "asked Defendants Moneta and Bryan to allow Matthew to transfer in lieu of a judicial affairs hearing. Moneta and Bryan both claimed that there was a 'policy' forbidding that; he could transfer but not as a student in good standing" (p. 220). Ekstrand asserts that there neither was such a policy nor a precedent, as many students in the same position had been allowed to transfer in good standing.
From Ekstrand's account, both Moneta and Bryan had already determined the sentence and delivered it repeatedly to Wilson's family before there was ever a hearing. Moneta told Matthew's father that "he and Bryan had no choice 'because he's a lacrosse player,' rhetorically asking, "What would we say to people if we didn't suspend him?" (p. 220). Especially extraordinary is that Bryan "claimed that he had picked a sympathetic group who would look favorably on Matthew's extraordinary efforts in the summer" (p. 220), an odd offering of comfort considering Bryan had already determined the sentence. It becomes even more peculiar consolation noting that the panel hearing "was filled with questions - not about the driving incident - but about the events of March 13th-14th at the 610 Buchanan house" (p. 220).
Eventually, by the Appeals Board, the two semester suspension was modified to suspension for the summer session. However, "neither body addressed the fact that the Student Code of Conduct clearly does not authorize the Undergraduate Judicial Board to subject students to disciplinary proceedings for conduct that occurs off-campus, out of county, while not enrolled, and not even eligible for a 30 minute CAPS appointment" (p. 221).
Thus, if Ekstrand is correct, violating precedent and citing policy that did not exist, Bryan and Moneta prevented Matthew from transferring in good standing in order that, with no disciplinary authority, they could subject Matthew to a hearing to determine punishment after punishment had already been determined according to policies that do not exist, and then used this hearing to interrogate Matthew about the party at 610 Buchanan in spite of Duke University's public assertions that it cannot conduct its own investigations for fear of "witness tampering." All of this at a time long after DNA had already cleared every member of the team and long after it had become extremely obvious to anyone paying the slightest attention that three honorable and demonstrably innocent Duke students were being subjected to extraordinary violations of their constitutional rights.
Duke Students for an Ethical Duke agrees with KC Johnson that this is one of the more disturbing parts of the entire lawsuit. We intend to discuss advocating at least the temporary replacement of the administrators involved until student confidence can be restored in the Duke administration in these essential positions that require the utmost integrity and trust.
On April 5, 2006, the false rape case against the lacrosse team had already unraveled substantially as the impossibility of the stories Durham Police were feeding to the media were becoming clearer and clearer. However, that day Judge Stephens unsealed a warrant to search the dorm room of lacrosse player Ryan McFadyen. The warrant included an excerpt from an email that McFadyen had sent to the rest of the team containing a crude parody of a passage from the novel American Psycho, a favorite among Duke students and required reading for three Duke courses. Though Nifong, Gottlieb, and Himan agreed to add a new charge of conspiracy to commit murder to the rape allegations, it was plainly obvious that the charges were beyond absurd, and that the email was clearly a joke, especially to anyone who knows the size of an Edens dorm room (lest anyone believe McFadyen actually intended to fit an entire lacrosse team into a 160-170 sq. ft. room along with two strippers).
When the news broke, "Defendants Moneta, Bryan and Wasiolek unilaterally suspended Ryan, without notice, hearing, or inquiry" (p. 213). Ekstrand alleges that Dean Wasiolek "searched frantically for Ryan demanding that Ryan come to her office to sign a waiver of his FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] rights" (p. 214). Ekstrand does not specifically say whether or not McFadyen ever actually signed this waiver, but he seems to imply that Ryan did not:
"That evening, believing that Ryan had waived his rights to privacy under FERPA, Defendant Brodhead [...] provided on the record comments in which he condemned Ryan, revealed that the University had suspended him under the 'safety of the community' provisions of the student code of conduct, [...] that he would be held to answer for his 'conduct' in the University's disciplinary proceedings, and claimed that he was free to say all of these things because Ryan had signed a waiver of his FERPA rights."If it is correct that Ryan never actually signed a waiver, and yet his "punishment" was advertised to the world in this fashion, then this is clearly abhorrent behavior from the Duke administration, and Brodhead in particular, and yet another violation of federal law. Even if Ryan signed a waiver, it is nevertheless appalling that administrators would have gone to such effort to get him to sign a waiver for the sole purpose of being able to publicly assail him on clearly absurd grounds. On top of that, it is astounding that in spite of those efforts, no effort was made to ask Ryan about the nature of the email before publicly sliming him.
In case the despicable motives of the administration were not already apparent from their handling of the McFadyen email, Ekstrand contrasts this response to a clearly harmless email with the administration's response to "an actual email threat" in Chauncey Nartey's infamous email to Coach Pressler. Sue Pressler filed a police report with the Duke Police, who did nothing, and Mike Pressler met with Moneta, who "refused to take any action on Nartey's email, or submit the matter to the Undergraduate Judicial Board" (p. 216). Nartey was also the president of a fraternity that had recently lost its charter for hazing violations. Nevertheless, Nartey was "one of five students appointed to Defendant Brodhead's Campus Culture Initiative" (p. 216). On top of that, "Nartey was a recipient of the 2007 William J. Griffith University Service Award" (p. 216), an award "given to graduating students 'whose contributions to the Duke and larger community have significantly impacted University life. Students who demonstrate an understanding of the responsibilities of effective university, communal and global citizenship...'" (p. 216-217).
Ryan McFadyen was pilloried by Brodhead and the Duke administration for a clearly harmless, private email while Chauncey Nartey was not only given immunity from discipline but showered with honors by the Duke administration in spite of sending and email that would obviously be perceived as a severe threat to Coach Pressler's daughter at a time when threats of violence and drive-by shootings were abundant. Nartey even went to the trouble to look up his daughter's full name.
[Edited 12:14 AM 1/17/08]
Please take note of a thoughtful exchange between UNCW professor Chris Halkides and DSEDuke in the comments section of this post.
Monday, January 14, 2008
We will likely respond to these requests periodically and in bulk, so it may take several days before you hear from us.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The following questions were answered by KC Johnson, co-author of Until Proven Innocent and author of the Durham in Wonderland blog on 12/28/07.
1) How long do you expect these civil lawsuits to drag on? How would you project the timeline for each phase?
These could go on for some time. Take a look at the lawsuits filed by the three falsely accused players: none of the defendants has even filed a response yet, and yesterday Patrick Baker was granted another month (till mid-Feb.) to respond. So it could well be several months before the initial paperwork is complete.
All of the defendants, I suspect, will file motions to dismiss the suit. Assuming that (for most, anyway) this motion isn’t granted, the next step would be depositions and discovery, which would take another several months, at least.
2) The Ekstrand Lawsuit named nearly every top administrator at Duke. How do you think this lawsuit and ones to follow will affect those administrators’ abilities to perform in their duties until these matters are resolved, and what will it mean for Duke?
The lawsuit clearly isn’t good news for Duke: I can’t imagine there’s any university in the country that would like to be sued. And, of course, the lawsuit is just one of many—the Dowd suit, the three players’ suit, the Pressler suit—that Duke has either faced or settled before the lawsuits were filed.
The question, of course, is whether the Trustees and administration have engaged in any critical self-reflection as to what exactly the University did wrong in this affair, and what improvements can be made to ensure that such errors don’t recur in the future. In this respect, the litigation could represent an opportunity for the University to move forward.
We haven’t seen many signs of this process to date, but I continue to hold out hope.
3) The lacrosse season was cancelled because of the gravity of the allegations in question. Should someone like Dean Bryan, to name one, whose ability to perform his job depends upon his moral high ground, step down and be temporarily replaced until these matters are resolved?
The single most troubling item in the Ekstrand suit is the claim that the Bryan prosecution of Matt Wilson involved asking Wilson questions about the party—which, by Duke’s own standards, would have constituted the University obstructing justice. (Recall that throughout 2006, Brodhead repeatedly contended that any University inquiry would have opened up the school to obstruction of justice, and therefore Duke had no choice but to both defer to Nifong and remain silent about Nifong’s procedural abuses.)
In combination with the highly damning revelations in the Elliot Wolf series about Bryan, it seems to me that the dean should be reassigned until the questions about his performance have been answered.
[Note: one of our sources has asserted that the majority of the complaints Wolf has with the trend of judicial policy regard policies enacted by Bryan's predecessor, Kacie Wallace. In fairness to Bryan, we will try to look into this matter]
4) Did Brodhead’s condemnation of “ill-judged” statements from the faculty in his apology surprise you given his own conduct? Do you believe his own failings and resulting vulnerability (and those of other administrators) have played a significant role in Duke’s continuing unwillingness to condemn or address faculty behavior?
It did surprise me, in large part because in early 2007, he thrice issued public statements that interpreted the highest-profile of these “ill-judged and divisive” statements—that of the Group of 88—in a more benign fashion than that offered by many Group members. So his remarks represented a radical—and welcome—change of perspective.
As for why the administration has been so unwilling to address the inappropriate behavior of some professors, I suspect it’s a combination of two things. First, a fear of litigation—that any rebuke or disciplinary action would also constitute an admission of wrongdoing (essentially the same reason why Durham shut down the Whichard Committee to investigate the DPD). Second a fear of the Group of 88, who, as we’ve seen with their responses to Steve Baldwin and to the Ec professors, are more than willing, loudly and publicly, to brand as racists or sexists anyone who stands in their way. In today’s politically correct academic structure, any administrator (not just at Duke) fears few things more than being called a racist or a sexist by faculty “activists.”
5) You have said you believe the feds aren’t merely stalling but will never actually get involved. Regardless, how much of a setback will that be to a state investigation by Roy Cooper, and could there still be criminal charges against Duke employees or officials? If so, who would be prominent targets? Will they wait out the civil suits?
6) It is difficult to justify the feds’ unwillingness to investigate. Is it possible to appeal their decision? Are there any other recourses to get federal help in the investigation?
(Take 5 & 6 together). It’s not possible to appeal—except for to the AG’s boss, and somehow I doubt George W. Bush is going to intervene. The lack of federal intervention is very troubling; this is a case in which, from all appearances, a prosecutor, an investigator, at least one police officer, and a SANE nurse-in-training conspired over a months-long period to manufacture evidence that could send three innocent people to jail. It’s hard to imagine a more serious type of misconduct from criminal justice officials.
As to a state inquiry: as we’ve learned over the past year, the state’s powers in NC are very limited. Since the state doesn’t have authority to empanel investigative grand juries, it appears unlikely there will be any criminal investigation at all.
7) It is hard to imagine all of the Duke administrators and officials named in the suit retaining their positions through these civil actions if many of these allegations are demonstrated to be true. It is also difficult to imagine all of them being promptly dismissed. How would you evaluate each administrator’s chances of survival, and what factors will go into the decisions for each official from the following list?
Richard Brodhead, Peter Lange, Tallman Trask, Larry Moneta, Stephen Bryan, Suzanne Wasiolek, Kemel Dawkins, and Matthew Drummond.
It’s hard to me to imagine Bryan lasting. But, then again, it was hard for me to imagine Duke first hiring and then reappointing Larry Moneta—and yet the University did so.
8) In terms of a basis for civil action, you mention the case against DNASI and Meehan as a weak argument in the case. On a factual basis, what do you see as the weaker points of the suit? Where do you think Ekstrand might have overreached, or do you suspect he can confidently substantiate each of his accusations?
I don’t see any case against Peter Lange, who strikes me as someone who has repeatedly tried to do the right thing over the past 20 months.
The tactic in any lawsuit, however, is to be ambitious in initial filings.
9) Vindication or Reparations: if you accept the premise, which motive do you expect to prevail among the lacrosse families? How do you think the allegations already revealed in the Ekstrand lawsuit will affect Duke’s willingness to settle with the other families, or even the three families represented by Ekstrand?
I think that the lacrosse players have already been vindicated—except for the truest of true believers (for whom no evidence will ever sway their mind) no one any longer believes a crime occurred in this case, and there’s a widespread consensus that the administration and “activist” faculty rushed to judgment. So I don’t think they needed a lawsuit to achieve vindication.
As to Duke’s settlement strategy: I can’t imagine the University would want to allow this to go to the depositions/discovery phase. The administration’s strategy has been to “move on” with no inquiry into either its conduct or the faculty’s rush to judgment; such an approach would be impossible as long as previously unreleased material keeps dribbling out.
[by vindication we didn't mean from the crime of rape but from the notions that they are "hooligans" whether or not the rape occurred. We may ask KC about this again with the clarification and will then update his response]
10) How should student leaders at Duke respond to these revelations and allegations? What effects do you foresee, and how should student leaders mobilize to address them?
The passivity of Duke parents has surprised me. How can parents stand idly by knowing their sons or daughters could get wrapped up in—say—Stephen Bryan’s discipline system; or be the subjects of the next denunciatory ad that the remaining members of the Group of 88 throw together?
As for students: passivity implies acceptance. Students have a right to fair treatment by administrators, and the Duke Faculty Handbook (theoretically, at least) requires all Duke profs to treat all Duke students (regardless of their race, class, gender, or athletic status) with “respect” as “fellow members of the academic community.” If students don’t stand up and demand fair treatment, it’s unrealistic to expect that others will do it for them.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Ekstrand alleges that after the failure of the plan to orchestrate the mass interrogations without council in which Duke Officials endeavored to deliver the lacrosse team into the trap set by Durham Police, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask then "immediately demanded meetings with team members for the purpose of forcing them to effectively waiver their First, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights" (p. 155). In the meeting, attended by Trask and other Duke Administrators as well, Trask demanded, "'tell us what happened'" (p. 156). After the team members declined as they had been advised to do by their legal counsel, Trask falsely told them that the conversation was protected from disclosure by a student-educator privilege that does not exist.
Ekstrand then explains that, "fearing their status as students was in jeopardy" (p. 156), the students were compelled to tell Trask what happened and emphatically denied the allegations. By demanding the full story, Trask and other administrators were leveraging the University's disciplinary power over the lacrosse players "to coerce what was effectively the waiver of their asserted First, Fifth, and Fourteenth amendment rights" (p. 156). Moreover, Trask and the other CMT members also intentionally "subverted their right to counsel by insisting the team members speak in the absence of counsel" (p. 156).
As we already know, soon after falsely telling the students the discussion was protected, Trask, Brodhead and several other administrators were brought in (to avoid subpoena) to testify to Durham Police about their discussions with the players, as the lawsuit mentions. To our knowledge, they all brought lawyers with them.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The World Famous Bob
[Note: the first few pictures show Bob after picking up the, shall we say, "funny money" left on stage by Dirty Martini after Dirty pulled it out of her bum. Bob picked up the chain of money, ran it under her nose, and threw it to the crowd.]
Dirty Martini walking off stage
We especially encourage questions and comments from Duke students.