LeFevre strikes a second time with his veto pen

Search words: Duke University Duke Republican Club

✔Fact Checker here.

Student Government President Mike Lefevre's two vetoes of Senate action against the Duke Republican Club are just plain wrong. But they are also irrelevant.

Yes, there will be an attempt to lobby votes to override. Indeed, last night there were reports that LeFevre himself was digging in, knowing he had a battle on his hands. As Loyal Readers will recall, one measure passed 20-3, while the other received two-thirds vote, and any override requires two-thirds.

And yes there will be an attempt to find other remedies. For example, a civil suit because of the nasty lie that Justin Robinette stole club funds, a lie used initially to set up his ouster, a lie exposed by a University audit showing it is not true at all.

Robinette was ousted as club chair because he was coming out as gay, despite the foundering on this point in today's Chronicle editorial. The editors apparently need to brush up on the pretextual reasons the coup d'etat leaders initially gave, and how each of those reasons has failed the test of time.

✔Fact Checker feels strongly that Robinette and Cliff Satell, who quit as vice chair in protest, should be focusing on and celebrating what they did achieve last week, not worrying about LeFevre.

By an overwhelming 20-3 vote on one measure, and a two-thirds majority on another, the Senate provided the first strong condemnation that this campus has heard since the Republican Club emerged last April as a hotbed of hate.

While the judiciary dodged, while Administrators ducked and President Brodhead personally failed to remind us of our heritage and standards, and while the Chronicle was silent and even scooped time and time again by coverage and editorials in the Daily Tar Heel over at Carolina, Robinette and Satell proved to the Senate that individual leaders and the club "culture" itself were equally responsible for the torrent of invective against gays, blacks and Jews, to list only those we know of to date.

They established that all people must stand together against every dimension of bigotry -- for the bigot knows no boundaries and will strike at any opportunity. Gay today, Asian tomorrow and Latino later in the week.

And they also showed themselves to be of extraordinary character and inner strength, an inspiration.

✔The vetoed items would not have prevented the Republican Club from operating on campus, from using meeting rooms, for example, or the e-mail system. Nor should there be any such prohibition, the horrible idea in today's Chronicle editorial notwithstanding.

The vetoed items did affect the club's slice of student fees and university programming money for specific periods of time. Even LeFevre paid lip-service to the symbolic nature, saying in a press release the actions were "passed in large part to condemn the offensive e-mails and disruptive behavior that had been allegedly promulgated by the Duke College Republicans’ senior leadership.” FC does not know why that word "allegedly" remains in there, for all is now proven.

So, the student government president reasoned, two resignations cured the problem. First, the high profile bigot Carter Boyle quit as chair, offering no explanation of why he stepped down, and then the relatively unknown Travis Rapp quit as vice chair, undercutting Lefevre's press release by denying that the controversy played any role (just a coincidence, Travis?)

Cured the problem. No, the resignations do not.

LeFevre himself identified one of the continuing problems: “The inaction of the organization’s other members appeared to be an implicit endorsement of that behavior."

Those other members, particularly the Chief of Staff Rachel Provost, remain in place.

LeFevre should have waited for the Republican Club to prove itself anew, operating under terms of the Senate's legislation, rather than imposing his own speculation that it will now behave.

Moreover, LeFevre should have consulted with the people most involved in this, Robinette and Satell. LeFevre's failure smacks of the kind of summary treatment we have come to expect from the Brodhead Administration, and at the very least students should treat each other with more respect.

The haste with which LeFevre acted is further apparent in a curious statement in his news release that says the Republicans will hold a new election, and "No members of the current executive board will be permitted to run, a
provision made to guarantee the integrity of the leadership change."

Deputy Fact Checkers have picked up on other formulations of this provision, one restricting the current executive board from running for chair but allowing members to seek other positions. Another formulation restricts past executive board members, sweeping in Robinette and Satell. Hey, who knows what will emerge when the election rules are drawn up.

But who is placing this restriction? From whence does it arise? The best information Fact Checker can obtain is that it comes from LeFevre himself, who acted pursuant to the most expansive interpretation of his powers imaginable. The Republican club did make some by-law changes within the past ten days, but apparently not affecting this point, confirmed by comments of the club chair pro temp in today's Chronicle. Anyone with further details, please step forward.

Moreover, if Lefevre feels he does hold these extraordinary powers, to reach into the inner workings of any student organization, it was incumbent on him far earlier than September 11th (when he revealed the new election rules) to pluck out Boyle and his ilk. Let the record show his failure.

The Republican Club exists under student government rules that provide all students must be welcome to participate. The restricted election creates two classes of students -- one eligible for office, the other not -- and it cannot go without challenge.

✔Fact Checker believes that a crucial next step is for the administration to promptly pursue personal misconduct charges against some Republican club individuals. Their testimony to the Senate collides with the honor code's prohibition against lying, not to mention how their words and actions based on homophobia, racism, sexism and anti-Semitism are an affront to this University.


To defund, passed 20-3.
NO - Chris Brown, vice president
Kaveh Danesh, vice predsident
Christina Lieu

Excused from Attending: Kenny Gould,
Ari Ruffer

To decharter, passed 16-7

NO - Gurdane Bhutani, vice president
Chris Brown, vice president
Kaveh Danesh, vice president
Gregory Halperin
Christina Lieu
Brendan Saslow
Alexandra Swain

Excused from Attending: Kenny Gould,
Ari Ruffer

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