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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Duke Case — The Brodhead Apology, more thoughts

Today's items - updated:

The Apology Richard Brodhead could have given

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Dannye Romine Powell / Charlotte Observer :
Duke chief offers model of a `my bad' -- If there was a tide in the sorry affairs of the Duke lacrosse case, Duke President Richard Brodhead allowed it to flood right on by him.

Who knows if his "voyage" will end in the "shallows" and "miseries" Shakespeare predicted for those of us who fail to seize the moment when it's most needed.

But I must say that Brodhead's first public apology, late though it was, could serve as a model of how to say you're sorry.

At a conference at Duke Law School on Saturday, the president expressed his regrets about how the university handled the case in which three students were falsely accused of raping an escort service dancer.

What finally motivated Brodhead's "my bad"?

Likely it was a recent letter on Duke's alumni magazine Web site by Charlotte lawyer Jay Bilas. The ESPN sports commentator and former Duke basketball player called for Brodhead's resignation, citing lack of leadership in the lacrosse case. [...]
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Kristin Butler / Duke Chronicle:
Apologize this -- with all deliberate speed -- Watching our president's apology to lacrosse players last Saturday, I caught a glimpse of the old Dick Brodhead-the caring and courageous leader whose agile mind and steadfast integrity once inspired this campus.

It couldn't have been easy for a lifelong educator like Brodhead to acknowledge he "may have helped create the impression that we did not care about our students" and that he caused the families of the accused "to feel abandoned when they most needed support." Equally commendable was our president's admission that he could have done more to "be clear that [Duke] demanded fair treatment for its students" and to ensure "ill-judged and divisive" voices on campus did not appear to speak for the University as a whole.

One apology does not dismiss Brodhead's many failures over the past 18 months. But it does live up to one of the highest ideals of this University-namely, a willingness to admit our mistakes and learn from them. For that, Brodhead deserves praise.

For other elements of his speech, Brodhead does not. Clearly, the law school's two-day "Court of Public Opinion" conference was not, as Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Relations John Burness told me "an ideal venue for him to talk about the lessons he had learned." The conference did bring together a number of big names like law professors James Coleman and Erwin Chemerinsky and "Durham-in-Wonderland's" KC Johnson to discuss their experiences during the lacrosse case.

But Saturday afternoon's session conflicted with the Duke-Miami football game and the N.C. Pride Parade on East Campus, effectively guaranteeing few undergraduates would attend. A $325 registration fee deterred lacrosse supporters who aren't students. And however heartfelt Brodhead's words may have been, his 15-minute apology (misleadingly billed as "Reflections by President Brodhead" and sandwiched between long panel sessions like a glorified bathroom break) was tainted by the impromptu and inappropriate venue in which he read it. Indeed, if Brodhead has, as Burness told The Chronicle, been "seeking an opportunity to make such a statement for some time," it's telling that he refused to read these comments at a more significant, inclusive event, like last week's Founders' Day. Or the upcoming State of the University address. [...]
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Editorial / Mining Gazette (MI):
Duke apology too little, too late -- At long last, Duke University President Richard Brodhead has apologized for his institution’s treatment of men falsely accused in what became a circus of political correctness.

We refer, of course, to the Duke University lacrosse team case. In 2006, three team members were accused of raping a woman at a party. The players were young white men; the accuser was a young black woman. [...]

those involved in persecuting the players for the sake of political correctness should be ashamed of themselves.
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Mark / Sports Biz blog:
Duke Finally Says Sorry -- Brodhead's apology hit most of the right notes, however, it came far too late to be of any use to anyone but perhaps his own conscience. It certainly wasn't going to do anything for the three lacrosse players or their families who have endured so much, nor frankly will it do much to resuscitate the image of the university or the hit to its reputation. He is no longer fit to lead an institution with the international reputation of Duke and he has forfeited any right to continue to occupy his office. The sooner he goes, the sooner Duke can get about the business of restoring its good name and cleaning up the damage done by him and by the faculty that ran wild under his watch.
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Letter to the editor / Duke Chronicle:
Criticism of apology's timing misplaced --
I was pleased to see your editorial today supporting the substance of President Brodhead's statement on Saturday, but I want to take issue with your criticism of the timing and venue of the statement.

President Brodhead delivered his statement at a well-publicized conference atthe Law School entitled "The Court of Public Opinion: The Practice and Ethics of Trying Cases in the Media," an event designed to do exactly what President Brodhead suggested we all need to do, which is to learn from the larger lessons of the lacrosse case.

It was not "unexpected" that President Brodhead would speak at the conference, or that he would speak about the lacrosse case. Publicity for the conference included posters on campus and ads in a number of local publications, among them the Chronicle. The posters and ads directed those interested to the conference website, which listed a full program and all participants for the conference. Although President Brodhead was not originally scheduled to appear at the conference, in part because of his very full schedule over the weekend with University Trustees, he requested some weeks ago (before the appearance of the posters and ads) that he be given the opportunity to reflect on the lacrosse case at the conference, and the conference website was updated immediately to reflect his participation.

Contrary to the suggestions in your editorial, the Law School is neither "far removed from the heart of the community," nor is it "inaccessible." The conference posters and ads expressly stated that members of the University community and the general public were welcome to attend conference sessions free of charge, and a number of interested persons accepted that invitation and were present when President Brodhead spoke. No one was turned away.

Nor was there any delay in making information about President Brodhead's statement available to members of the University community who were not present. The text of the speech was posted immediately on Duke News, and the webcast of his remarks was available on the Duke Law website by 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Your editorial notes that the statement represents "a turning point" that "will do much to bring a sense of closure." It disserves that purpose and the interest of the University to diminish the effect of the statement by second-guessing the means of its delivery.

Kathryn Bradley
Senior Lecturing Fellow
School of Law
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KC Johnson:
Reflections on the Law School Conference, II -- As Sports Law Blog tartly observed, "Apparently, Professor McClain—who is co-director of Duke's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences—believes that in the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse scandal, the University needs to distance itself from its sports teams, rather than embrace them.” [...]
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Thomas Sowell / Townhall
Columbia, Duke and the Media -- On page 28 of last Sunday's New York Times, right opposite the page where the obituaries were, at the very bottom was a news item almost exactly the size of a 3-by-5 card.

It was a fraction of an Associated Press dispatch about Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University, apologizing for "not having better supported" the Duke lacrosse players last year when they were accused of rape.

When this story first broke last year, it was big news not only on the front page of the New York Times but on the editorial page as well. The way things were discussed in both places, you could hardly help coming away with the conclusion that the students were guilty as sin. But now that the president of Duke University apologizes for the way he handled the case, that gets buried on page 28 at the bottom, opposite the obituaries. [...]
discussion:
FreeRepublic: Columbia, Duke, and the Media
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John in Carolina:
What Brodhead Meant To Do -- A lot of people are offering their opinions of just what Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, was trying to do in his statement Saturday which he read at Duke Law School.

Here’s my take:

Brodhead's statement was carefully crafted to avoid the full and honest explanations and apologies he still owes the players, their families and the Duke and Durham communities. [...]
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Michael Gaynor:
Before Crystal, Anita Hill targeted Justice Thomas -- Like the Duke lacrosse players, now Justice Thomas became a victim of political correctness extremism. During the process that culminated in his confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice, he refused to be railroaded and set the right example for those victimized by the forces of political correctness extremism (including lacrosse players): speak up for yourself in the courtroom of public opinion, because, in Justice Thomas's words, "it is always worth it to stand on principle." Like Justice Thomas, the lacrosse players won despite all the lies. Also like Justice Thomas, their work is not done: an end needs to be put to political correctness extremism pollution and reform of the criminal justice system and higher education, in accordance with the Constitution, are big parts of the solution.

The political correctness extremists shamelessly used false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum to promote their agenda. But Ms. Mangum was not the first opportunistic black woman so used. Before Crystal, there was Anita Hill. [...]
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Winston Delgado / Teahouse of the Furious Buddha blog:
Conservatives and Race -- I'm expecting responses ranting about the Duke Lacrosse Players from my conservative friends. Here's the thing; they got off. They're totally vindicated. I know of nobody whose 'reputations have been ruined' who have had so much shining [...]
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Chrish / NewsHounds:
O'Reilly says men shouldn't be left alone with small children in ... -- O'Reilly recently railed about the media trying people (using the Duke lacrosse players as the prime example) without knowing all the facts, yet here he is doing it himself. Now there's a false divide - there are those who think they've [...]
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Charles Deemer / The Writing Life II blog:
Thought-provoking work -- Finished Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (Hardcover) by Stuart Taylor (Author), KC Johnson (Author). It's one of those books that makes you cry for your country. [...]

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