Justin Robinette: Justice Denied

Search words: Duke University, Anil Potti, Justin Robinette.

NOTE: There are two important posts today. Please read the next post on the Potti scandal as well.

✔Fact Checker here. This has been a perfectly horrible weekend for the concepts of integrity and justice at Duke.

First the Administration's decision on Potti. And last night a dismissal -- without appropriate consideration of the very compelling evidence that Fact Checker presented to Loyal Readers late last week -- of the judicial complaint brought by Justin Robinette and eight other plaintiffs.

In the Potti case, we heard pledge after pledge of "transparency." And what we got were one of more administrators, unknown, operating under rules that were not disclosed, making a decision that unspecified parts of Potti's resume are damn lies, and imposing a sanction they won't tell us about. All announced using the oldest trick in the PR handbook, a news release late on Friday afternoon when everyone had already launched their weekend. Mr. Schoenfeld, be advised you did not fool Fact Checker.

Since Potti's still on the payroll, it's reasonably certain that he wasn't fired, which brings us to the question of what the hell a faculty member has to do at Duke to get canned? Sorry for the language; this is an outrage.

Apparently the answer is something more than sully the reputation of the place and tarnish its crown jewel which is Duke medicine. Stay tuned, Potti is going to drag colleagues down with him, and undoubtedly administrators too who have tried to shield their star researcher.

Duke in this respect is no worse than Harvard, which last week found a long-time tenured professor guilty of academic fraud through-out his career. Most likely Marc Hauser of the psychology department will wind up with a letter of censure.

For anyone who thought "Professor" Hauser would be ashamed and quit (not to mention Potti), and for anyone who heard Hauser was going to take a year-long year of absence starting right now to think about his future, please be advised that the Harvard Crimson has just broken a story.

The professor says his leave of absence and discipline only affect his status in the school of Arts and Sciences, and he will teach a course this semester in another Harvard division, where the dean says it's wonderful news.

That's the way they think in the academy nowadays.

In the Robinette case, a misleading student government press release said a decision had been made, when in fact there was an abdication of responsibility.

The press release failed to reveal the judiciary split on hearing the case, though having a minority on your side is scant consolation. We'll never know their reasoning since no opinion will be filed.

Here is a fellow Dukie who has been subjected to discrimination because he is gay, an earlier judicial opinion unanimous on that point. This was harassment and intimidation day after day, week after week, continuing after a ruling in Robinette's case last fall that found individual members guilty, but not the Republican Club, meaning student activity funds still flow.

That's right. Continuing after last spring's judicial ruling.

It is all so nasty, deliberately provocative, designed to hurt. Eight other plaintiffs, including one properly not identified who was subjected to blackmail and came close to suicide, stepped forward for the first time.

And the judiciary says they have no remedy.

Robinette is also fast reaching a dead-end in Allen Building, unjustly. President Brodhead has refused to see him, which jarred my memory of his refusal to see the parents of three innocent lacrosse players facing 30 years in jail for a rape that did not occur. Mr. Brodhead, you later felt impelled to apologize for that, and so help me, Fact Checker sees need for another.

Just as important as a meeting, Brodhead has failed this university with his silence. No comment, no affirmation of Duke's "zero tolerance policy" that has been breached by a cluster of students harboring "discriminatory intent" and creating "harassment and hostile environment."

Larry Moneta, vp of student life, seemed to bark off the page in an e-mail made available to Fact Checker, an e-mail seeking his involvement in the case. Intemperate, brusk as he had been in a recent unrelated inquiry from a Deputy Fact Checker about the dining halls now that he is in charge. Larry, you can do far better. You have in the past.

Moneta did take several steps though. The most important was that he turned to an outside consultant to prepare a report on the various aspects of the Robinette case -- a good move -- a report the consultant said should be publicly available. Robinette and the others agreed and have waived their right to privacy, and every stakeholder in this university is entitled to read this report.

But that's not the way Moneta and his clandestine colleagues in Allen Building pursue their jobs. This time. Any time.

✔All this has been big news in the Daily Tar Heel over at Carolina, the lead story one day last week, an editorial the next calling on Moneta to release the secret report, while the Chronicle has weighed in before today with only one meager article that did not reach at all into the vulgar, vile e-mails that Robinette and others were peppered with.

Not to mention the personal confrontations they were made to endure as their tormentors tried to tease, belittle and demean someone because he happens to be gay or supportive of someone gay. The reason for the Tar Heel coverage is that this is an offense of the first order, and FC can only hope the Chronicle will see the same.

✔For gays on this campus, 2010 is certainly a long way from the decades when Dean Robert Cox was allowed to pursue a personal pogram, declaring homosexuals and thieves were not allowed. President Sanford eased up on that, President Brodie opened the door and made a commitment to diversity, and President Keohane stood at the entrance shouting Welcome.

What a shame to have Richard Brodhead as their successor, insensitive.

Robinette and his friends, conducting themselves with dignity, are not going to let this go -- and indeed they should not. There's talk of a civil suit for good cause, for some in the crowd that ousted Robinette as president of Duke's Republican Club charged he stole money -- a charge that is now disproved by a university audit.

Just the same, Justin, you are too wrapped up in this, and you and the other plaintiffs would be well served -- provided you do not suffer any new invidious discrimination -- to take a break, begin the semester, have some fun and revisit this in a few weeks.

To Carter Boyle and Rachel Provost and your klan, you won in the judiciary last night, but let's make clear it was a Pyrrhic victory -- at devastating cost.

Hopefully your fellow patriots in the Republican Club will impeach you, though you have twisted the by-laws behind their backs to make this unlikely. The national college Republicans also should take a whack at you, for the party -- though not FC's favorite -- is far better than your example.

Even if your "leadership" of the Republicans continues, you and your ilk stand exposed. We got your number, we watch your game, and you will not get away with it again.

Your ill will is confirmed to embrace not only gay people like Robinette, but blacks and Jews as well. People you know, people you don't know. Fags. S-on-D's (no I won't tell you, ask around). A version of the N-word. And every Jew called a pig.

Fact Checker has no doubt the list is longer, as every e-mail you wrote giving succor to each other's hate has not surfaced and every time you chortled at someone else's expense has not been recorded. As a new semester begins, when you walk down the quad, look at the passing faces of diverse Dukies and be haunted by those you have offended so deeply and what they must think of you.

✔Thank you for reading FC.
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