✔ Fact Checker here. Of course.
What is most surprising about President Brodhead's e-mail on undergraduate "culture" is that he wrote it at all.
For one of the great lessons of the six plus years with Brodhead at our helm is that he stands apart from raging undergraduate fires. FC does him a favor by saying "stands apart": we might have said he stands aloof if not arrogant.
What involvement did he have and did he spawn for example, as budget cuts sliced into undergraduate life? Killing the separate International House and Multi-Cultural Center. Closing the student pharmacy. Cutting back on housekeepers in the dorms. Not to mention chemistry labs and the coming dagger into the ranks of Arts and Science professors.
Why did he not invite undergraduates to partner on these decisions?
Indeed, not only undergraduates, but all stakeholders did not hear from the President for almost a year during the height of the financial crisis, as noted in a pair of Chronicle editorials blistering his leadership.
What involvement did he have when the Campus Republicans discriminated against their chair, ousting him because he came out? Brodhead even refused and refused again to see the victim of this organized homophobia which stabbed the heart of our culture and values, finally granting 5 minutes, only to say he knew little about the controversy. Nice staff work, Dick!!!
And what involvement has he had as evidence of GOP racial discrimination was sent to his administrators?
✔✔ And if Brodhead finally did want to engage stakeholders, he surely came forward at the wrong time.
✔ First, because the are whispers on campus that an alcohol and mephedrone scandal is about to make headlines -- the precise kind of image-busting publicity Brodhead lamented. FC knows more, but tells Loyal Readers no more this morning! If this materializes as it looks now, the e-mail will be regurgitated along with every other negative aspect of life on campus, dragging the name Brodhead front and center.
✔ Second, we are only six weeks from the first phase of K-Ville -- and nothing, nothing illustrates the culture crisis more than this months-long infusion of spirits, with the claim that unfettered use somehow bolsters our spirit. Students will be ignoring Brodhead's pleas for a "conversation," or as one put it in a note to FC, "I'll get drunk to that."
Yes, the great danger to Brodhead is that he will be totally ignored. Wrong word. Disobeyed. Oh guys like the student government president will see him and discuss. But hundreds of students making individual decisions to tent will act in his face.
Brodhead has let K-Ville fly under the radar, for example during the lacrosse crisis, accepting a report on "campus culture" that he commissioned that dwelt in depth on Tailgate and mentioned Last Day of Classes, but put K-Ville on an altar of silence.
This sort of official hypocrisy will now rebound and hurt Brodhead.
Hundreds of students, probably more than a thousand -- most of them our youngest freshmen who live on "dry" East Campus -- will be allowed to immerse themselves in the never-ending West bacchanalia that is K-Ville. Need I remind Loyal Readers that the last time a Deputy Fact Checker went over the protective line of deans and campus cops keeping out ABC authorities, the Deputy was greeted by hundreds of empty bottles and cans, several students urinating in public, and one act of fellatio in public between the tents. Not bad for 15 minutes of observation.
The lack of proper food, much less a place to eat it; the unhealthy, unsanitary mob conditions in front of our athletic complex; the middle of the night tent attendance checks and the near harassment of tenters by upperclassmen during them, not to mention the noise night and day, and the lack of an academic atmosphere with study space -- well.... in short we are about to see a repeat of the exact opposite of the kind of Duke our President envisions.
Brodhead has ducked involvement in the past. Not evening passing K-Ville during intense times to our knowledge. But this year, with his e-mail, K-Ville is going to embarrass him mightily as it begins and continues.
There are clear alternatives to K-Ville. For example students could pledge community service hours -- checked by line monitors -- and get tickets based upon their engagement. And with Brodhead's curious e-mail in our backpacks, it is time for all stakeholders to think anew.
✔ The Chronicle columnist identifies the heart of Brodhead’s message: "You will show yourselves true Duke students to the extent that you regard this university as yours to envision and yours to make.” He tells us to “speak openly” and “visualize a change.”
This is an idea Brodhead has expressed often, in Convocations for example. But he is the person who disables the ability of students to influence policy -- by being so secretive, by being so insular, by providing no information that would empower.
Take something specific: chemistry labs. How can an undergraduate possibly suggest an alternative budget cut, when the budget is not released and only administrators know -- only administrators own -- the details.
And another Brodhead quote: “We’ve had our eyes opened to the serious costs of apparently harmless fun.” Hence the references to negative press, canceled tailgate and the assertion, “we have too much drinking on this campus.”
Mr President, this is not new. In fact two years, three months have gone by since you signed the Amethyst Initiative, with your calling for a national conversation on the drinking age, muddling your position by failing to say if you believe a return to 18 would be responsible or not.
Isn't it time for the leadership you promised on this issue?
✔ Final notes: Brodhead wrote undergraduates, but FC cannot find a PR pick up. The text does not appear on his website; I do not find any news release.
And Chronicle should get a new pic of the President. From his tie, I date the front page picture used the other day (looks like he had a mustache tho it is hard to tell) from the first PR photo-shoot in 2004.
Thank you for reading FC!
November 18, 2010
THANK YOU. Brodhead is acting exactly like Keohane did. It's been 17 years now since we've had a president who actually liked the undergraduates.
I can't believe he used Sanford's language too. What sort of delusional does he have to be to think he's anything like Terry Sanford, or worthy of pretending to be?
November 18, 2010
AntiFeminist - I came close to starting my essay commenting on Brodhead's self serving comparison with Terry Sanford. Uncle Dick!! Imagine!!!!!
I was thinking about the Vice Presidential debates before the election of 1988, when the Republican, Sen Dan Quayle, faced Senator Lloyd Bentsen.
Asked how he was qualified to be president, the 41 year old Quayle noted "I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency."
Bentsen spoke up "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."