Inside the Duke Republican Club: With malice toward all. Queers, N's and Jews alike

Fact Checker focuses on university governance, the President and Trustees and administrators, their action and inaction, processes and policies. And as our work on the Potti scandal shows, we're kept plenty busy.

But tonight, we have some acquired documents that are compelling -- documents the student judiciary will be considering on Saturday in a new appeal by nine students, including Justin Robinette, now a senior, the president of the campus Republican club who was ousted last spring.

Compelling. That's the wrong word. FC should say disgusting.

We first learned of the existence of these documents through an article in the student newspaper at UNC, The Daily Tar Heel; its message board went a big step further and carried an excerpt that shocked us. The editors have since taken that down, and that's one more reason you need Fact Checker. And yes, FC has blistered the Chronicle in private correspondence for not being atop this situation.

And so, Loyal Readers, FC shares with you elements from the complaint and supporting e-mails of the plaintiffs, a document filed with the judicial authorities, a document that you are entitled to know about. To be fair, and Fact Checker is fair, we have reached out to some of the defendants in the past few hours, and the first to reply vehemently denies some of the allegations arising from conversations. Conversations, not e-mail.

Robinette served two terms as club president and was just starting his third when he was impeached. He had also just been elected co-chair of the state-wide college Republicans. Over a long period, he had questioned his sexual orientation and gradually was coming out to friends.

He says that when leaders of the GOP realized he was gay, the executive board of the Duke club changed the by-laws at a special night-time meeting that its members called on their own, without informing the general membership, and acted against him motivated by homophobia.

Lest you think that a gay man hearing the following string of words or receiving repeated obnoxious e-mails from his political friends is what this is all about, please read on. For we have an equal opportunity bigotry, addressing blacks and Jews as well.

One Valentine's Day e-mail -- signed -- included a link to "butt sex," the subject line being "Shit on Dicks" which it turns out is also abbreviated by Republican young men and women who speak this way as "S-on-D."

Then there is another signed e-mail with the symbol 8---> <---8 which is crude, so there is no other way to describe it other than to say it derides two well hung males moving to have sex with each other. Club members signaled this to each other.

Here's how to use this in a sentence in a signed e-mail: "Pretty much anyone who could ever fathom dressing like that for Halloween is 8==> <==8"

"Faggot." "Flamboyant." "Fag." "Faggot Center" for the LGBT offices.

At a club meeting, the complaint says club leaders mimicked male masturbation with their hands, trying to humiliate Robinette.

One Republican leader wrote a signed e-mail to Robinette desribing how he masturbated with a plastic vagina called a Fleshlight, and told Robinette "try it to see ― what a vagina actually felt like." Fact Checker tried to reach the e-mail writer, but he apparently was busy last night.

In another e-mail: "If he doesn't respond shortly, it probably means that chode got this nice little nugget from (FC deleted a student name) and jumped on it (saying) Eureka! let's own those dirty warmongering Republicans! And then went to bed after sending you his steaming pile of twist-the-facts horseshit thinking he had just thrown a monkey-wrench into Duke CR's ( Duke College Republicans) plans. He'll wake up in the morning to a giant cock in his face saying, 'We're the College Republicans, bitch!'”

Discussing recruitment of more members for the Republican club, a club official wrote Robinette. Please be warned this e-mail contains a version of the N-word:

"I'd recommend finding a place to set up the [registration] table behind which I can park the Hummer, open all the doors, and blast rap music. The Hummer's sound projection is unbelievable. It should sufficiently summon the naggers, although I'm not sure how receptive they'll be to anything involving Republicans. Maybe you could make a big poster with attached pamphlets that reads, Can you spell Republican? If so, you might be one! Take a brochure.”

Try this explanation of a resolution the club had passed, contained in an e-mail discussing club business: "I'm not preaching that we bend over and spread our anuuses wide for this fucker. Rather, I urge caution about provoking this 3-incher into tying us up and then calling in a 7 foot, 300 pound black man named Tyrone to fuck us with his anaconda. The last thing any of us wants is some bullshit, legalese application of 'the rules' and College Republicans being hurt in a tangible way."

Oh yes, the President of the United States is repeatedly called "President Wheat and Rice."

And when a Congresswoman noted all the names of hurricanes sounded Caucasian: "She would prefer some names that reflect African-American culture such as Chamiqua, Tanisha, Woeisha, Shaqueal and Jamal.

"I can hear it now: a weatherman in New Orleans says 'Wazzup, mutha-fukkas! Hehr-i-cane Chamiqua be headin' fo' yo ass.... Bitch be a category fo'. So turn off dem chitlins, grab yo' chirren, leave yo crib, run fo the nearest FEMA office fo yo FREE shit!'"

And now Jews. The president of the college Democratic club is Ben Bergmann: "We should anonymously post an ad for Bally Total Fitness on one of his blogposts. How about great deals on Channukah presents."

Jewish students in general are called "pigs."

Despite the ugliness of the past few paragraphs, the worst was always reserved for gays:

A supporter of Robinette was warned -- blackmailed -- with the possible spread of information that "would be used against him by others." This presumably means the student would be identified as gay -- even if he were not. This student tried to commit suicide.

A female Republican is said to have approached Robinette during a Republican meeting on February 16, 2010 and said she believed Robinette had visible hickeys, asking derogatorily if they had been planted by men or women. This same female was asked to "stop referring to gay people by the name S-on-Ds," especially in the presence of Robinette.

Contacted by Fact Checker, the female said there was no Republican club meeting on that date; she did not say if she had made the hickey remark at any other time or used the term S-on-D, though she did allow that she does not hold "homosexuals" in disfavor.

The complaint alleges some Republican leaders were vandals, ripping down LGBT flags from students’ windows, threatening to burn LGBT flags, writing the N-word on school property, and throwing school property out windows. Countering, one defendant told FC that she saw Robinette rip off a gay flag.

Last spring the judiciary ruled that while Robinette indeed suffered discrimination at the hands of individuals, they did not act in concert under the umbrella of the Republican club, so that the club -- on trial to possibly lose its certification for Duke money -- was exonerated.

That may or may not hold up with new revelations, many of them occurring after a 2-1 verdict as the semester ended.

To FC, we may have a pattern of repeated invidious conduct that conflicts with Duke's "zero tolerance policy" on discriminatory intent, harassment and hostile environment.

Beyond the student judiciary, we therefore await the response of administrators.


  1. Excellent reporting Mr. Fact Checker. I can't believe this would go on at Duke! And not a word from the administration??? Why aren't they doing their job and stopping this nonsense? Some of those e-mails are truly disgusting... how can the DCR's keep playing this game? Even daring to say Robinette ripped down a gay-pride plag? Wow Republicans. Just wow.

    Keep keepin em' honest FC.

  2. Wow. This is unbelievable. Nice job, Republicans. WHAT ARE THE NAMES OF THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE????? Shouldn't the actual school be investigating this level of bullying?? Oh. My. God.

  3. This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. I can't believe the administration has STILL not said or done anything about this, probably too worried about preserving the "Duke Reputation" to worry about justice. What bothers me the most is not only that these kids think that they could get away with such hatred and intolerance, but that any student confronted by discrimination in the future will likely be too afraid to step forward because of the administration's apathy in this case.

  4. Agreed, DukePride, the fact that this has gone on for so long unaddressed makes it so that no one in the future would ever feel confident speaking up about something like this. Imagine what someone in the closet right now feels like reading this!

    It is astonishing that someone tried to commit suicide over these people's bigotry, just because they threatened to spread he was gay? Someone should be arrested then! The Daily tar heel yesterday said that the 9 people filing had gotten death threats too. What is wrong with this world? Where are the arrests?

    Republicans are really pathetic, I realized. You can't have a debate on politics, on real issues without succumbing to this nonsense, guys?

    I have two questions though:

    1) Couldn't the 9 students sue the college if they fail to protect them? Imagine it, if a woman came forward and claimed she was harassed (or...raped?) and Duke investigates, would they do something different than they are doing with Robinette. If so, isn't that a failure to equally protect students, which WOULD leave them open to a suit? Why would they jeopardize themselves like that?

    2) I like the one girl's defense too LOL. Repubs' response to the gay kid: he ripped his own flag down! Haha. So we did too.

    I found the case here just now actually, and there are names on it: http://www.scribd.com/doc/36367954/Cause-of-Action-Robinette-and-John-Does.

    Wow. These kids' lives are over. Note to everyone: DON'T SAY THOSE THINGS IN EMAILS, DUH.

  5. Umm? Maybe you shouldn't have kicked out the leader that you just elected, if you've harassed him with anti-gay emails before you did it. I'm glad the Republicans have zero political intelligence obvious from this. As a Dem, I hope this is the future of the opposition. Mr. Robinette will serve the Democrats well with this kind of vigor and sense of right, come over the light side, good sir!



  7. This is all so very sad the more and more I hear. What a good club they've burned to the ground with their hate. As a Republican who worked with Justin and the CRs over at Duke, I only ever heard good things about him, and the club really did like him. That is very sad to hear that he was going through this type of stuff from some of the Officers. I'm sad to see him not a part of the state organization anymore either.

    What is suspicious to me, I heard nothing about this harassment of course, was that they couldn't ever agree on exactly why he was kicked out. Each person gave a different reason and nobody could really come up with anything. They all sort of just decided that he misused funds, which were proven false by an audit-though only after he was kicked out, made it all the more sad. I liked him and so did everyone else (for the most part, it seems in retrospect), and for the record, did not know he was gay!

    I've been involved with the Federation in NC, actually voted for Justin when we had elections in Wilmington. He was always an upstanding and smart gentleman, and for all the non-Southern conservative boys at Duke he was always to me an intelligent and polite young Southern man who made us all like him. For a while the NCFCR was scrambling to the tune of "cover your butt," so rest assured they didn't get off so easy for what they did. While I have never taken a position on LGB issues and a lot of us might disagree on them, Justin didn't deserve the kind of treatment he received. I'm glad he's standing up for himself.

    I will urge the CRs at UNC and Cape Fear Community never to work with Duke again. That's about all I can do, Justin, but you've still got my support. This is all so horrible. This is such a sad and terrible situation. My mouth fell open reading this. Shame on you, Carter Boyle and Samuel Tasher. You boys need your mouths washed out with soap.


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