Like colleges and universities of old, it its own way, Duke is trying to act “in loco parentis” with an emphasis on the loco part. “If the National Enquirer were to rank colleges as U.S. News & World Report does, Duke University would be number one,” Jay Shalin of the Pope Center writes. “The school was made synonymous with tales of drunken debauchery in 2006, when the infamous lacrosse team scandal became front page and gossip column fodder. In that incident, a stripper hired by team members accused three players of rape.”
“By the time her allegations were proven false, the reputation was set.This fall, a rash of embarrassing incidents that have further solidified the school’s ‘rich kids gone wild’ image prompted Duke president Richard Brodhead to send an email to the student body, essentially pleading with them to behave better.”
“His missive lamented a ‘series of incidents that, at least to a distant public, made the most boorish student conduct seem typical of Duke,’ and that ‘these episodes create a wildly distorted image of Duke.’ He hoped that students ‘face up’ to ‘features of student culture that strike you as less than ideal,’ and added that ‘the administration will cooperate with you fully.’”
Such actions make it appear that the Duke prexy’s main concern is what such incidents do to the school’s image, rather than its students. “The email does not convey a deep concern by Brodhead for the students’ self-destructive behavior, but rather his irritation that their antics are getting in the way of the school’s image,” Schalin notes. “Nor is there any outraged call for serious culture change on campus—just a timid suggestion that students change their ways.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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