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Thursday, October 5, 2006

Duke Case: Parent Letters

by Sally Johnson Fogarty
Trinity, 1975, Parent-’04, ’05, ’09 and hopefully-‘12
Chevy Chase, Maryland

Duke University is a huge source of pride in our family. I went to Duke and have a son, Robert, who graduated in 2004, and a daughter, Lane, a past member of the women’s lacrosse team, who graduated in 2005...

It’s sad that I feel compelled to continue to justify, explain, and prove this team’s innocence of the damning charges brought forth by the media. They are not arrogant, swaggering, privileged, surly, violent hooligans and "jocks out of control" to quote the journalists. What a different picture the Coleman Report paints of these young men after a lengthy, thorough investigation. "By all accounts, the -lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined, and respectful athletic team. Their behavior on trips is described as exemplary. Airline personnel complimented them for their behavior…..Both the groundskeeper and the equipment manager spoke about the players’ respect for and appreciation of efforts for the team. They described the members of the team as the best or among the best group of athletes they served in their long tenures with Duke athletics. Although they give coach Pressler credit for instilling these values, they emphasize that the players are a ‘special group of young men.’ The female manager for the last three seasons, a Duke senior, echoed these sentiments."...

by George K. Jennison, T’80, P ’08, P ‘10
Richmond, Virginia
The pain peaked when the New Black Panther Party, an extremist group known to protest while carrying guns, appeared in the media telling us that they would “interview the players individually” to ensure that the “prosecution” was carried out. As a parent, and one who has trusted our system of justice, this terrified me. That weekend, it puzzled me that no one at Duke thought to call and let the lacrosse parents know what was being done to protect their sons...

I have learned many lessons, some of which are the following: Don’t pay too much attention to press coverage, because they are selling newspapers and not always reporting the truth. Don’t ever prejudge anyone regardless of what one reads in the press. Free speech is good, but the down-side is having a public that can say anything and a press that can print anything. Beware of the 24-hour news cycle and reporters claiming to be your friend. An independent justice system is good, but it doesn’t always work perfectly...

by S. Boyd Eaton, ‘60
Atlanta, Georgia
...The wheels of justice are turning and when, as it seems increasingly likely, the lacrosse players are exonerated, the university will truly be able to consider itself. "Poor Duke." Poor because of the institution’s cowardly, self-pitying, politically correct apologia. Intellectual courage, integrity, solidarity, and fairness are qualities a university should exemplify and attempt to instill in its students – qualities as, one more important than, academic excellence. To the extent the lacrosse article reflects the administration, faculty, and student body response to what may well prove to be unfounded charges, politically correct expedience has supplanted honor as Duke’s preeminent virtue.

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