Brodhead, administrators waffle on drinking

✔✔✔ Good day, fellow Dukies. Fact Checker here. Probative. Provocative. Pro-Duke!

It's not often -- not often indeed -- that President Brodhead speaks out on a contemporary issue on campus. For example, we have waited all summer for his comments on the shaky status of the Kunshan Initiative, which in the past he has contended will be as transformative as James B. Duke's gift that turned Trinity College into a university named for his father. On June 1, the Fuqua faculty shot down two proposed degree programs, and sent the entire Kunshan timetable into a tailspin; none of this has ever been reported officially to stakeholders. Our President's only public response has been to stop off in Kunshan on a three week spree through Europe, Asia and Africa, to don a yellow construction hat as he posed smiling for a Twitter picture.

Another example is how Brodhead kept hands off Dr. Anil Potti, who falsified the premise and results of important cancer research. The Potti Mess, as our blog called it throughout the last academic year, started to unravel when a reporter discovered Potti's resume listed a Rhodes Scholarship that he never got. Brodhead advised us not to reach conclusions, because between truth and falsehood there can be an "intermediate explanation."

Which is a contortion that only an English scholar oblivious to the honor code could conjure up. Brodhead reserved this curious assessment for a private meeting with the editorial board of the Herald Sun, and the quote never even appeared in the Chronicle. Answering questions for the editorial board at the News and Observer, Brodhead said the vetting of professors was working just fine, and no other steps would be put in before they are hired. The Chronicle ignored this too, by the way.

The President was silent when Duke's #1 cancer doc praised Potti for "honesty, integrity" and his "research" in a letter for his medical license in his new home state of South Carolina. Using official Duke stationery.

✔ And so when we heard Brodhead in Duke Chapel for freshman Convocation last Wednesday, we applauded. Here was the President going beyond his usual annual rewrite and regurgitation of inspiring ideas from similar speeches at Yale, compiled in his book "The Good of This Place." Here was the President actually speaking out forcefully on campus culture.

Well sorta. On drug use, just short of rampant in some sections of the campus, the President ducked. He spoke only of watching out for "adult pleasures," which we guess means drugs.

On sex, Brodhead was just a little better, advising freshmen to "build a life you can be proud (of)," not do anything that would haunt them in the years ahead. FC would not be surprised if Uncle Dick was still shivering at that point from the enterprise of Karen Owen '10, who not only bedded athletes left and right, but kept score with full disclosure of their length, width and prowess. And Ms. Owen bound all this lascivious detail together in a document looking like a thesis that went to a friend, who was indiscreet enough to show it around, and so it wound up viral on the internet.

✔✔✔ And then there is the drinking problem, rampant to the extent that it defines this great school and destroys the ability of some students to benefit from it. The apologists refer to this as "the social scene." A close friend of FC says the drinking problem makes Duke the University of Southern California of the east, not the Harvard of the south.

Brodhead had been passing up the opportunity to speak out forcefully on this since his inauguration seven years ago. He did sign the Amethyst Initiative, a document from college presidents and chancellors dealing with questions about the 21 year old drinking age. At that time, Brodhead made a point of hiding where he stands, rather calling for national debate which he never started.

So surprise, Brodhead's words at Convocation were precise: "As for drinking, you know the law and are obliged to obey it."

Precise words, or were they? His next gasp failed the Breathalyzer test. Identifying Duke as a "domain of freedom," he no longer said each individual decision about drinking was already pre-empted by law, but rather "the object of your conscious and thoughtful choice."

✔✔✔ On the very day Brodhead spoke, members of his administration were disclosing plans for "GameDay." We can just see the minions gathered at a conference table, congratulating each other for the moniker. “The word ‘Tailgate’ will never exist,” said Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek. “We buried the term.”

GameDay was born because TailGate, the traditional Bacchanalia before home football games, died. Died on the spot last November when the 14 year old brother of a student was found slumped unconscious in a porta potty, a victim of alcohol overdose. We never did learn the blood alcohol reading, but sources say it was double the limit for driving.

Trust FC, the motto for GameDay is not "you know the law and are obliged to obey it."

Instead, Vice President for student life Larry Moneta, recognized by everyone who's been here more than a week as L-Mo, and Dean "Call me Sue" Wasiolek, have set in place a series of dampers.

Rather than a huge gathering for anyone showing up in the Blue Zone parking lot, GameDay involves closed parties for no more than 75 students who get a permit for a BBQ (you can also buy overpriced picnic lunches, the food necessary to tame the effect of alcohol). “These will be private events hosted by particular groups that want to host an event,” L-Mo said. “These are not events intended to be broad public events.”

There will potentially be incentives for the groups, still being decided. Wasiolek said they may have the ability to sit together in the football stadium -- which is to say they get preferred seating -- and their names might be featured on the scoreboard! Whee!!

There will be muted music, a requirement to end 45 minutes before the football game (many people at Tailgate never bothered to go to the game) and most of all, a location out front of the dorms or close to other buildings so, presumably, no porta-potties are needed. Or for cynics, close enough to return to the dorm to sleep.

Loyal Readers will note that the permits are for the Main and residential quads on West Campus. To hell with Central Campus. (We'll get to East Campus and its freshmen in a moment.)

And who is left out? Read these comments from a discussion board:

"Independents get screwed, as usual"

"So basically if you're an unaffiliated student, you no longer have ANY pre-game festivities to attend unless someone in a 'group' (aka fraternity) invites you, or you have enough money to register for your own 'private barbecue.'"

"What about just a bunch of six people who want to get together?"

"These new tailgate policies effectively ban all Panhellenic Sororities from congregating on Gamedays. As well as any kind of BBQ or Saturday gathering held by major student groups (over 75 people) think BSA, Mi Gente, most selective living groups.."

"The new proposal is, as other posters point out, narrow-minded, excludes independent Duke students, and cages in possible interactions between students to such an extent that not only is spontaneity nearly impossible, fun is measured-and-doled-out-by-administrators-in-small-inedible-portions."

✔✔✔ And now the hypocrisy. As for alcohol rules at GameDay, "you know the law and are obliged to obey it" gives way to what the Chronicle called "University alcohol policy, including a six-pack per person rule, a no glass rule and a no common distribution rule. These are the same regulations that apply on the Last Day of Classes."

The policy also involves Dean Sue, other administrators and Campus Cops drawing a cordon around the parties, keeping out city police, state ALE agents and anyone else who might want to honor the alcohol laws.

As noted, the announcement of GameDay focused on West Campus, filled with sophomores, juniors and seniors. In other words, some students who have attained the age of 21, but certainly not the majority.

It was consistent with the University's attempt to keep East Campus dry. The key word being attempt. It will be interesting to see if there is clamor for festivities on East Campus too, or if freshmen will be content to take a bus to West for the game, and walk by the BBQ and beer en route to the stadium.

Hypocrisy. Wrong message. Period.

✔✔ Oh yes, finally let's return to the line in the Chronicle story saying GameDay drinking policy is the same as on Last Day of Classes.

What's missing here?

The answer of course is the sacred cow, K-Ville, with hundreds of students, many of them freshmen, living for months in unsanitary conditions in cold tents, all in the name of building Duke spirit and getting good seats at one winter basketball game. With Brodhead failing in his responsibility, FC feels that Coach Krzyzewski, so dedicated to following the letter and spirit of NCAA rules, should speak out.

Coach K should no longer lend his name to this nonsense right under his office window. Aside from the tone it sets, it simply does not work to draw crowds to most basketball games. Not to mention the noisy disrespect for people living in nearby quads, its hazing on the final two days, and most of all the unfettered use of alcohol. And not just beer.

Unfettered. Hard stuff.

Thank you for reading and supporting FC, and for loving Duke.

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