In her latest article, "Tyranny of the minority", Ms. Butler again demonstrates her earnest willingness to speak truth by calling out the apathy of her fellow students.
“There are many, many reasons to be depressed about last week's election. But one, in particular, stands out: not many of us voted.
"According to preliminary data from the Board of Elections, turnout in Durham's precinct 5-which serves students from West and Central campuses-was the second lowest in the county, with just 18 percent of registered voters casting ballots. In precinct 2, which encompasses East Campus, the turnout was only 23 percent. Just as surprisingly, the lowest turnout of all was in the precinct serving NCCU's campus, where only 182 of 2,028 registered voters-that's just 9 percent!-cast their ballots...The message is plenty clear: We students are not participating in Durham's political determinations. Which begs the question: why the hell not?"I confess that if concern for our classmates and the integrity of Durham's legal system weren't enough to get more of us to the polls last week, then I don't know what would be. What I do know is this: We should be ashamed of our historically low level of engagement in Durham elections, and we should all hope that the hard lessons of the past eight months will disabuse us of that habit in the future.”
Yesterday’s column follows last week’s “Time to Speak Up”, and the previous week’s “Nifong? Not fine by me.” These prior efforts represent two of the strongest additions to the discussion of the Hoax, its hijacker, District Attorney Mike Nifong and some of his apologists.
From “Time to Speak Up”:
“I was shocked and dismayed by the outcome of that election. It's hard to imagine what-if anything-49 percent of Durham residents were thinking when they voted for District Attorney Mike Nifong, who has disgraced this community before a national audience. But even as we acknowledge Nifong's electoral victory, Duke students should continue to reject the ignorant, counterfactual and deeply offensive logic embraced by many of his proponents.
"To see what I mean, consider this statement from Harris Johnson, a Nifong supporter and longtime Durham resident: "[Nifong's victory] just goes to show that justice can't be bought by a bunch of rich white boys from New York… no matter how much money you have, Durham is owned by its citizens."
Surprisingly, Duke's own Associate Professor of Literature Grant Farred advanced a similar argument in his Oct. 27 letter to the Herald-Sun. Citing many students' decision to register to vote locally this fall, Farred wrote: "Duke students are notorious in their disconnect from the 'black' city of Durham…. The plan here is not to act in Durham or for the general good of Durham, but to act against the non-Duke Durham community." Farred concludes that "the goal of these new, expedient and transient members of Durham's political community is to repair the damage done to historic white male privilege by voting against" Mike Nifong. Both of these arguments boil down to the same insinuation: that Duke students aren't "real" Durham residents, and we have no place in this town's political determinations.
"Well, Professor Farred and Mr. Johnson, I have news for you: We are very much citizens of this community, and one electoral defeat will not keep us from continuing to demand our rights as such. Let's face the facts. We spend at least 70 percent of each of our four college years in Durham, and during that time we're subject to the same local laws, taxes and responsibilities as everyone else. What's more, fully 15 percent of undergraduates and the vast majority of graduate and professional students actually live in Durham neighborhoods, paying rent to Durham landlords and living alongside long-term residents. A boon to the local economy, all 12,085 Duke students spent approximately $92.5 million here during the 2005-2006 school year-and that's a conservative estimate. It's not even possible to calculate the number of community service hours Duke students devote to Durham each year; suffice it to say that the number is safely in the tens of thousands. Still, we do know that Duke students, while studying at a university the tuition and fees of which nearly exceed Durham's average yearly income, nonetheless managed to donate 80,000 of their own dollars to this community in 2005. So let's not avoid the important question any longer: Are these not the "badges and incidents" of citizenship? How much longer will Durham residents continue to disregard our participation in the residential, economic and civic activities of this community, all of which predated our recent claim to political enfranchisement?”
“In 239 days, Mike Nifong has sullied his 27-year career with the Durham District Attorney's office. During that time, Nifong has been roundly criticized for procedural and ethical violations…If the past seven months have taught us anything at all, it's this: Mike Nifong is not fit to be our district attorney…His highly unethical and unprofessional conduct is as serious as it is systematic; prominent among Nifong's most egregious acts is his refusal to consider exculpatory evidence, even as he misrepresented the facts of the case to media outlets…And as we all found out last week, Nifong has never spoken-not once!-to the alleged victim about the events of that night; still, he had no reservations about telling Bill O'Reilly that "there is not a doubt in my mind that [the alleged victim] was raped and assaulted at this location" and announcing to Dan Abrams that "I am convinced that there was a rape, yes sir."…This brings us to an important point: It was Mike Nifong's mouth-at least as much as Durham's racial or socioeconomic tensions-that blew this case out of proportion…While giving more than 50 interviews in the first days of the investigation, Nifong called the players "hooligans," wondered aloud "why one would need an attorney if one had not done anything and was not charged," and denounced their "blue wall of silence" to the press…Despite the fact that such grandstanding is clearly in violation of prosecutors' ethical code, Nifong continued to claim that the students' "daddies could buy them expensive lawyers" and that they knew the right people, while even questioning their "manhood."…This arrogant, self-serving commentary is chief among the reasons why I will be voting against Mike Nifong on Tuesday.”
Kristin Bultler on Duke’s admission policies:
Regardless of how much cash is generated, development preferences offend our most basic notions of equality and fairness. Indeed, these students have enjoyed every advantage, from access to the best prep schools to personal SAT tutors and beyond. Why, then, should what former admissions officer Rachel Toor described as "the weakest part of our applicant pool" be given "places that could easily have been filled by regular kids?" Truly, this is the most anti-egalitarian and anti-meritocratic policy I have ever encountered in all my time at Duke.
"Cissy Bunn, who is the mother of Maude Bunn, Trinity '05, offered the following observation: "Did my normal child take the place of somebody who could really make a difference in the world? Sure, yes, to an extent. But there are so many things you can lose sleep over. I'm happy for me and my child."
"Caroline Diemar, Trinity '03, noted that "everyone has something that got them into Duke. I didn't have athletics, I didn't have race, I wasn't the artistic person, I didn't play an instrument, I wasn't in student government.... Networking is how you go about everything."
Yes, Caroline, you're absolutely right: Each and every one of us is here because an admissions officer saw that special "something" in our file. Of course, I was under the impression that this "something" was related to intellectual achievement, creative talent or perhaps a personal accomplishment. Now I know better. Nevertheless, the task before this University is clear: we must find a way to reconcile our need for donations with our meritocratic values. The first step is to stop pandering to the rich and their children."
“Sept. 13, an existing policy was clarified: Students' off-campus conduct will definitely be investigated and punished by on-campus authorities. Before administrators get too ahead of themselves, I wish they would consider one thing about our judicial process: It. Doesn't. Work.
Indeed, although academic infractions are down sharply since the implementation of the Duke Community Standard, non-academic violations-particularly those involving alcohol-have skyrocketed during the past 10 years. In its current state, Duke's judicial philosophy is wholly unsuited to reduce alarming levels of binge drinking and
out-of-control partying; simply expanding the jurisdiction of the Office of Judicial Affairs is not an answer.
This is primarily because our Undergraduate Judicial Board is more akin to a clandestine military tribunal than a legitimate judicial body. The Board's membership is secret, the regulations it enforces are subject to change without notice and its agenda is set by administrative fiat, proudly unbound by our student-ratified constitution. Indeed, Stephen Bryan, associate dean of students and director of judicial affairs, told The Chronicle that "[Duke students] are contractually owned by Duke University."
“We've heard so much during the past six months about the so-called "culture of crassness" at Duke. More specifically, undergraduates have been assigned what Rev. Sam Wells, Dean of the Chapel, called a "subculture of reckless 'entitlement,' sexual acquisitiveness and aggressive arrogance."
"Of course, these social tensions are hardly unique to this University. Without a doubt, our struggle has become public in light of the lacrosse scandal. But we don't get off that easily. After all, it's Duke-and not any other top-10 institution-that consistently ranks among the top colleges with "Little Race/Class Interaction" and where "Town/Gown Relations Are Strained" in surveys like those conducted by the Princeton Review. What, then, is it about this place that fosters the culture of I Am Charlotte Simmons and Rolling Stone's lacrosstitutes?
"And why is the notorious debauchery and bacchanalia concentrated among a minority of students? The answer is that these problems are systematic-and not cultural-in origin. Indeed, this intractable "culture of crassness" is situated directly atop the friction between the academic and non-academic missions of this University. Encapsulating this struggle is the current discussion regarding differential admissions policies, especially Duke's acknowledged preference for the children of wealthy non-alumni. Clearly, all universities need money to operate, and this approach has proven an effective way to solicit large donations. But by reinforcing the privilege already enjoyed by wealthy, almost universally white students, this policy (which is compounded by legacy and athletic preferences) virtually guarantees the presence of smoldering racial and socio-economic resentments on campus. Add administrators' passive-aggressive approach to housing and alcohol policies to this mix, and we uncover the ugly truth: Although our much-cited "campus culture problem" belongs to students, it was born of policy shortcomings entirely outside of our control.”