Monday, November 27, 2006

Our Collective Voice - A Duke Mom Responds to Stuart Rojstaczer

Well, Mr. R., I’m a Duke mom and the ad certainly had an impact on me.

I suspect this will sound kind of “right wing,” to you, but, truth be told, Duke at the end of the day is marketing an educational product, an educational experience, if you will, that is quite costly, and actually requires a lifetime of saving and sacrifice by those who end up paying those tuition bills.

And we care deeply about the intellect and character of the people, the faculty, who will be teaching and influencing our sons and daughters.

And I want to believe that those same faculty care deeply about the sons and daughters whose education has been entrusted to them.

When I see how agenda-driven is a core group of the humanities faculty at Duke inflaming an already inflamed situation at Duke, before the facts have become known, a group who would put their own personal passions above the welfare of, at least, portions of their student body, then, Mr. R., I am very taken aback.

Now, I have some very strong feelings about Mr. Nifong, but he doesn’t impact or change my feelings about Duke. He makes me fear for my child’s safety in Durham, but he doesn’t affect my feelings about Duke.

No, my feelings about Duke have not changed because of the Duke Rape Hoax and Nifong’s role in bringing it about. My feelings about Duke have changed, and I believe, sadly, it will probably be a permanent change, because of actions and words of the Group of 88 and the actions and words of President Brodhead and the Duke administration.

Now, as I said, I’m just a Duke mom, but, believe me, I know moms. And I know that moms are paying attention to this case. Maybe as moms, we’re a little bit idealistic about teachers. While the roles of teachers and moms in our kids’ lives are certainly different, we still want to assume that they share with us a little bit of the awesome responsibility of having young lives, even lives of eighteen to twenty somethings, entrusted to them. And, here, I guess I’m getting really idealistic, we even assume they would consider it a sacred duty to, well, at least do no harm.
For many, the biggest shock of this case has been to see, in the most blatant terms, that police and prosecutors would pursue a prosecution of three young men based on no evidence and refuse to accord them any of the hard-won protections of legal due process that this country has achieved.

For me, and probably for other moms, the bigger shock has been to see teachers, Duke faculty, whom we would hope would be shining beacons of learning and integrity to our kids their life long, because of the wonderful educational experience they brought to our sons and daughters in their classrooms or lecture halls, when we see them taking time out in a very public statement to suggest there is something rotten about these very students, the young men and women with whom they share a campus and a university and whose education and growth as individuals is one of the primary missions of that university, in some cases, students that they themselves teach, to read in their statement, in effect, that if the something rotten they find in those students isn’t outright criminal, it is bad enough, well then, I must tell you, we are shocked and dismayed and saddened and changed.

Now when you say that the statement of the Group of 88 was just a piece of free speech, and after all, really has no impact on the case, I have to tell you, Mr. R., you are really missing the point.

There are mom and dads and kids all across America who will be making educational decisions in the future. And yes, we are attracted by the wonderful educational opportunities that Duke will continue to offer, and yes, even by the prestige the university has and no doubt will retain. We also care about family ties to a university that has meant a lot in our lives.

But we are not deaf, dumb and blind. We can’t just ignore something so deeply shocking from such a large group of faculty, representing many departments.

There will be an impact from that statement, not because anyone is opposed to free speech, but because the thoughts and sentiments expressed are so troubling, so anathema to the role of teacher, of educator. It burns into my mind because I hear the Group of 88 saying, in effect, “there are no teachers here,” at least for certain kinds of students.


Anonymous said...

Very well written, momtothree! My interest in this case has been based on my being a "mom" first followed by the fact that my lax playing 15-year old could be one of these indicted college boys. As a mom, I do expect teachers to be supporters of their students; to want them to excel just as I do. I do not expect them to sign a public statement early on in a situation before the facts are known, labeling these students to advance their own personal agendas. I am not a loopy right winger; I judge each situation by its merits and through a fairness I learned from my own parents. Would I allow one of my children to attend Duke or any school where they would have to cross through Durham while the good 'ole boys are still operating...not on a bet! There are just too many other great schools in this country, and I will be researching their faculty when the time comes. A new lesson learned by me.

Anonymous said...

My son would be a serious contender for admission to Duke's engineering school (Biomedical Engineering as his major), based on his scores, GPA and extracurricular activies. However, he said in October that he would not even apply if Nifong was re-elected. He is holding to this promise despite his Duke-educated college counselor telling him "how wonderful Duke is and that the DukeLax thing will go away as soon as the judge starts to rule on the more substantial defense motions".

I do not know if there is another kid in the U.S. with the same thoughts, but we did receive a mailing last week from Duke talking about the good relations between Durham and Duke, signed by Broadhead and Mayor Bell.


Anonymous said...

You are some kooky gal, Momtothree, caring about dated concepts such as right and wrong! And bringing up tuition and expenses-- what would four years cost now, about $160,000+? And the real kicker, you actually would expect Duke faculty and administration to give a rat's a-- about about the children we may send to them, that they may continue to grow into fine young adults? The Despicable 88, and the Allen Building enablers spit on people such as you and me. Our way of life, our thoughts and values are just so American, so Judeo-Christian . . . sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...

momtothree: That was well said.
Please consider emailing to Brodhead and the Board of Trustees.

Tony Soprano said...


That was truly an excellent response!

It is a sad commentary though.


fortyquestions said...

Thank you for your response. My little blog received more attention than I have time to respond in detail. I do however understand and respect your point of view. Cheers, Stuart

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. Thank you.

Sundayjack said...

fortyquestions said...

Thank you for your response. My little blog received more attention than I have time to respond in detail. I do however understand and respect your point of view. Cheers, Stuart

You're retired and felt the need to inject yourself into this heated debate all the way from across the country. Find the time to respond to Momtothree and consider that you're responding to hundreds like her in the Duke community. She's investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in people just like you, and people whose right to speak you now defend. You certainly don't owe anyone anything, but YOU started this. Don't answer anyone else, if you like. Just her.

madder than a hornet said...

right wing = truth and justice

Through the ages mothers have made amazing sacrifices for their offspring. Watch us Nifungus, the truth is known and you will be brought to justice.

Thank you momtothree for your passion. I join in you in continuing to attack a weak Administration at Duke and an even more spinless BOT President Steel.

Anonymous said...

Bravo and ditto!! You speak for lots of Duke moms and moms soon to have children in college. Thank you.
another mom

Anonymous said...

Hell, I'm still waitin for Stu to tell me which sites are evil right wing sites I should avoid. I'm not holding my breath for a response to mom23. He's just happy he's gettin some attention

Anonymous said...

well said Momtothree. Well spoken. Seldom do words of truth ring with such clarity and commonsense. Awesome. Your words shine bright lights on the rot and barnacles of so called "intellect" at Duke. A few more moms such as your self looking elsewhere to invest your hard earned cash and even the indolent governor may sit up and take notice. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Momtothree. I'm also a mother of three. I also have a son applying to college. Duke was taken off his list as a result of the hoax. Never had we thought to look at a schools' administration and faculty to see if they support their students. Until now, we thought that was an absolute. Many universities have town/gown issues. I've never imagined a university where the students weren't safe from ridicule by their own faculty. Duke needs to examine itself in light of its rush to judgment of these kids.


Anonymous said...

Beautifully conveyed thoughts, Momtothree. I am the mother of two Duke grads. We treasured their time at Duke but were naive at time as to some of the faculty members' attitudes. I now counsel friends and acquaintances to avoid Duke. Dr. Brodhead is not a leader to be admired--or trusted--and the city of Durham is far too dangerous for students. My children also advise others to steer clear of Duke at this time.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. There are more people out here in the provinces who agree with you than these people can possibly imagine. Quite honestly, compared to Brodhead, Steel and the group of 88, I am just a tad to the right of Atilla the Hun. I, my wife and one of our daughters attended Duke when sanity still prevailed (pre-pc). We all cherish the experience and the memories. When my oldest grandson was born, I began giving him any and everything Duke. That has continued for 17 years. This fall, at my request, he withdrew his application to Duke .. and I am heartbroken but cannot in good conscious put him in that environment. Coincidentally, I just received last week a request from Duke suggesting I include Duke in my will. I will in fact, after the first of the year, REMOVE Duke from my will and will cancel a life insurance policy payable to Duke which I have had for over 30 years. How sad...but I think the damage done is irreperable. However, if Brodhead and the other 88 are fired by Jan. 15, I might reconsider. Not in Bill and Melissa's league but every little bit helps.

Anonymous said...

What Stuart Rojstaczer does not understand is the active participation of some of the Duke 88 in this Hoax.

gc said...

Mom to Three

I would like to share the following with you. It's the welcoming principal's message from my child's public middle school:

"As middle school educators assisting students toward success, we affirm that we are first "teachers of children", and secondly teachers of subject matter. We will treat our students as we wish others to treat our own children. We will lead by example. We will have high expectations for all children. We will speak with kindness and sensitivity. We will model respectful, ethical and caring behaviors. We will remain current with educational research. We will address multiple learning styles in our classrooms to ensure that every child has opportunities to meet with success. We will meet both the academic and affective needs of our students.

In short, we will work in partnership with you to ensure that "our children" develop into well-rounded men and women.

The Pres. of Duke and the 88 have a lot to learn. Somehow I think professors KC and Bill Anderson would agree.

Anonymous said...

I am another mother who has taken Duke off her sons college list, and although I am sure there are many other qualified applicants who will take his spot, there was no way I would be comfortable with him living in Durham. Kudos to poster "1:35", that is what will really get the University's attention...$$$$$$$ once the displeased alumni start speaking with their wallets then they will start listening.

joan foster said...

Mom to Three, Thank you for your eloquence and your insight..and for finding the words to say what so many of us feel!

My faith has been shaken in so many ways by this case. Once upon a time, though I may not have agreed with those like the 88...I believed they acted within the confines of integrity and standards we all share.
Now I see how they change the rules and move the goalposts when their agendas are threatened. I see them now as bloviating bullies..protecting their own power source. Their agendas are all that shield them from the circumstances of their poor writing and mediocre scholarship.

They stand for nothing, for no one but themselves.

Anonymous said...

Very well written. I think the Adminstration would be surprised to see that there actually people who would not send their children to Duke based on the behavior of so many of it's faculty.

Duke has been removed from my daughter's visit list for this reason - although I'm sure there are others who would gladly take her place.

Anonymous said...

I add my own family as one regretfully removing Duke from consideration. The Duke lacrosse players and families look a lot like our own family, and I consider their treatment by Duke and by the town to be very instructive. We have a son who is very bright, long time participant in Johns Hopkins CTY, socially active and happy, plays three sports and is on the academic high list at a well known boarding school-- he is an excellent candidate for the Duke I thought I knew. I am very uncomfortable with the idea that he could be hurt by Broadhead, his flunkies, any of the Despicable 88 or fellow travelers, not to mention the hostile surrounding environment of corruption, hatred and ignorance now revealed to be rife throughout Durham. My son, and the two other sons following him, may go Ivy or follow their older sister to UVA. When my wife and I were at Duke, we didn't think UVA to be in the same league-- however, my daughter's curriculum is quite challenging, and neither UVA nor the town of Charlottesville seem to be in the business of lynching random college students. And of course there are many other fine schools none of which, I can imagine, could be more dishonest and hostile towards its own students than Duke as it stands today. Just what the Board of Trustees can be thinking is beyond me! Hello, Board-- stand up for the Duke Three! Do something! sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...

To 9:57-my son played lax for a school with a "high list"- he's an "Old Boy" now. My husband was in the same class at UVa Law w/ Bob Wright- NBC Universal- I'd pick C'ville in a heartbeat! Duke's loss will be other schools' gain.

Anonymous said...

Duke is off of our list, and not just because the University has abandoned these kids and so many faculty rushed to judgement, but MAINLY because of the hostile environment in Durham. I had no idea that the town/gown rift ran so deep.

bill anderson said...

Part of the irony here is that Brodhead and the others decided to demonize the lacrosse players in part because they thought it would HELP town/gown relations. Instead, it only fed the hatred and made things worse.

I applaud those of you who have written off Duke University for your children. I also would highly recommend writing off Vanderbilt University, since it has been bragging about hiring Houston Baker. Being a University of Tennessee graduate, hating Vandy is second nature, but I always am happy to find a new reason to look down on the place!

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of parents who won't permit my immensely bright and talented kids to even consider attending Duke. That administration and those professors threw those kids under the bus like yesterday's garbage. It would serve them right if potential basketball recruits decide to avoid Duke because of the way other sports figures were treated. That would hit them where it hurts.

Anonymous said...

I am also a Duke parent, and I have spent a considerable amount of time following the blogs and reading posted comments. I too am very concerned/angry/disappointed by the responses from most faculty and administration. However, my son is in his third year, double-majoring in engineering and economics, and he LOVES Duke. Of course, he has had no courses taught by the "88" (believe me, I checked), and his academic experience has been stellar. Although I understand why any alumnus, parent or contributor would hesitate before making any future commitments to Duke, I am selfishly concerned by the potential impact these actions may have. As a family, our college choice has already been made, and we are committed, both financially and emotionally. This is the same university that many of you supported twelve months ago; same President, most of the same administration and faculty. Unfortunately, the events of the past nine months have brought to light aspects of the school and the town of Durham that are disappointing and in some ways frightening. I have no supporting evidence, but I suspect many other schools have faculty that would respond in much the same manner. I only hope that Brodhead and the university board appreciate the gravity of their inaction, and react quickly to restore and repair the reputation of this university that has captured my son's heart

Anonymous said...


As a Duke grad who would only marry another Duke grad and with many other family having attended that hallowed institution, it gives me no pleasure to criticize my alma mater. One of the bright spots of the hoax tragedy has been learning how many students (excluding those too passive to vote Nifong out of office) have stood up for one another. I have terrific faith in duke students to parse through the bs articulated by the dishonorable faculty and administration. But until we hear an apology from the Brodhead administration, the bitter taste of this episode is bound to linger.

bill anderson said...

I would agree with one of the previous posters regarding the potential performance of faculty elsewhere. I can see the arts and sciences faculty at Harvard or the Princeton faculty pulling a stunt similar to what we saw with the Gang of 88.

However, it happened at Duke, and the people at Duke had a responsibility to handle this thing with some class and honesty. So, it might be unfair to single out Duke, but when the university was on the center stage, well, the performance was less-than-stellar.

Anonymous said...

an apology from brodhead? are you nuts?!! why doed he have to apologise to people who dishonored duke by their actions? the lax team owes the duke family an apology not vice versa!

Anonymous said...

To 6:39
The team captains already apologized to Brodhead for having the party AND said the rape allegations were false.
Brodhead CHOSE to believe Nifong (probably WITHOUT speaking to him personally) over them.

I am part of the Duke family and I want an apology from Brodhead.

Anonymous said...

well, many other members of the duke family do not feel that Brodhead owes that team and their families any apology whatsoever! the duke lax team and their families who are vilifying duke and Broadhead on this site and others like Durham in wonderland as we post, owe everyone in the duke family a big apology. The team acted in a dishonorable way and they and their family are continuing to behave dishonorably towards duke and especially towards Broadhead, a man of honor who was trying to help duke survive the scandal in this media age. The lax team members and their family and friends are openly critical of the 88, of brodhead and of the university itself(reade's comments on 60 minutes and SI stand out)and on durham in wonderland, one of the players( not the accused)is urging alumni not to contribute to the alma mater! The lax team and their families need to accept that duke and Brodhead did not cause this situation. their own irresponsibility caused the "set up" of this situation. if I was Brodhead, hell would have to freeze over before I apologised to the Lax team as they have heaped dishonor and notoriety on the alma mater!!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this thread and others and I have to add that I am offended by the use of the word lynching in reference to this case. You have no right to use this word to refer to this case. The defendants were not arrested until many days after the case was investigated, they declined to be interviewed by police once they obtained cousel and they posted $400,000 in bail apiece and now are at their mansions per usual and they have the best lawyers in the state of NC. They are not in fear of their life and even if they may be convicted(fat chance), they will remain free on appeal.

A lynching is when you are taken out of jail by person or persons unknown, hung by the neck until dead after being publically castrated and/or sodomised and depending on the crowd's mood, whether or not they want your penis, fingers, and toes as souvenirs and whether or not they cut you down while you are still alive and then burn you to death and then pose for postcards like whites did so many times. Oh, I forgot,you have to be black and you sure as hell do not have a lawyer,nor are you out on bail and resting at the family manison.

Please do not try to devalue the meaning of the word lynching by using it in this case! This is may be a miscarriage of justice but a lynching this will never be!!

Anonymous said...


First - to correct a few factual errors in your post:

"The defendants were not arrested until many days after the case was investigated"

The accused were arrested WAY before the investigation in the case was complete.

"they declined to be interviewed by police once they obtained counsel"

You are wrong... one interview, scheduled before counsel was obtained, was canceled. No other interviews have been requested and therefore were not declined. If you can show me otherwise I'll stand corrected.

As to the misuse of the word lynching in this case...

Lynching "putting a person to death by mob action without due process of law"

You say "They are not in fear of their life"

Easy for you to say.... are you aware that death threats have been made in addition to the "dead man walking" threat made in the courtroom to one of the defendants during an early court hearing? Or perhaps that the NBPP organized a march in Durham as a result of this hoax and offered to serve justice on the accused?

This case demonstrates a city racially divided... If my son were one of the accused, I would fear for his life.

You call this a "miscarriage of justice" -- might you find a little stronger word if you or your loved one were the accused in this case?

With everything we've seen and heard in this case a lynching, sadly, is not so hard to imagine.

Anonymous said...

Nifong is the one who has had more death threats than the accused. He has to have extra security at the courthouse on a daily basis. The stripper moved to Virginia this summer briefly to escape death threats and white people bothering her little children at school. The website supporting her and Essence magazine have seen lots of the death threats and I can assure you the accuser and Nifong do not have the luxury of a gated community for protection like the defendants in this case. One comment from a NBPP member does not equal multiple death threats. Sorry. You still do not have the right to use the word lynching. I told you about what actually happened in a lynching so your little dry definition be damned. These entitled people who posted more than a million on bail are not being lynched. period. You dishonor the dead who really were lynched when you use that word and you are trivialising what they went through. This is the height of insensitivity but I should not be surprised as you come from the group of people who did these things and had their children there and took postcards and had picnic during it. If you do not believe me look it up on the internet. You will see the crowds in the pictures and the little children and the brutalised bodies of the black men, some of them burnt to ashes in the photos.