Even with feds on case, Duke's top officials slough off serious civil rights complaints

Make time on your calendar on the first day of classes, January 12. The federal Office of Civil Rights will be holding focus groups with students who come forward as part of an investigation into a very serious complaint by students Justin Robinette and Cliff Satell.

This is a complaint that up til now the Brodhead Administration -- and this includes Uncle Dick himself -- has sloughed off. The charges of sex and race discrimination began with Robinette's being bounced as chair of the Duke Republican Club after he came out as gay -- but extend far far deeper into campus culture.

Fact Checker has just gotten a memo from the bowels of Flowers Building, sent out by an obscure bureaucrat deep in the Student Life division, announcing the federal Office of Civil Rights will hold a day of meetings with students to assess the climate on campus. Anyone who steps forward can participate.

From 9 in the morning until 8 at night on January 12, there will be focus groups "not specifically about any incidents, but just to get a sense of student perspective and observations about the climate on campus for students of color, GLBT students, racial differences, men and women and more."

This e-mail, over the signature of Christopher Heltne, student life director of communications, more properly should have come from Brodhead himself, or Vice President Larry Moneta, or Supreme Dean Nowicki.

And it is a pity they are so aloof if not arrogant that they did not realize this.