Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The good, the bad, and the strength of the community

We are huge fans of women's collegiate basketball, particularly the teams of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. Since we come from Colorado, we are particularly fond of Duke's kickass sister team of Emily and Abby Waner who, we assure you, will rise to the level of fame of unanimous All-American J.J. Redick before they leave the Bull City. Heartiest congratulations to all of the women at UNC and Duke for showing us last night how it's done and making it to the Final Four. All of these women are remarkable athletes with incredible potential for improving the world far beyond the basketball court. And, of course, they are great role models for our daughter.

But, as even many more now know, a pall has been cast over this part of Carolina due to the racist, sexually exploitive, and likely criminal activities of some men on the Duke men's lacrosse team. The egregious events have now made The New York Times.

Many in the academic world know of Duke President Richard Brodhead's stature and integrity from his years at Yale. I can't think of a better leader to be presiding over such and incredible nightmare on so many levels. He is currenly being criticized for not acting swiftly or strongly enough, but I ask that the community give him a chance once the law enforcement investigation reconciles the disparate stories and charges are filed formally. One does wonder, however, why such behavior was tolerated under previous university administrations as a local paper detailed yesterday that 15 of the 47 players had racked up violations of the law during their time in Durham. There are also rumblings that one of the players was involved in an SAT cheating scandal with other lacrosse players at their previous school.

I have read on some local message boards that the media and community are just using this incident to fuel already longstanding tensions between the town and the Duke men's lacrosse team. Uh, no. The crimes under investigation are among the most serious offenses one human being can commit against another. But, just to give you a flavor of what's going on down in these parts, Duke grad and current UNC law student, Jill Hopman, filed an incredible anecdote that made two of the papers yesterday. If you read no further, you must take a gander at this essay on behavior of some team members this past Saturday, yes, after the hellstorm had come to roost publically. Stupidity, arrogance? You decide.

Fortunately, the strong community is reaching out to NC Central University and using an already-planned rally to bring an end to sexual violence (credit: Trinity Park Neighborhood Association):

"Wednesday, March 29, 2006 - 7:00 pm

Take Back the Night - Rally, March, and Speak Out @ Duke University

This event is free and open to the public - participation by the local Durham community is welcomed and encouraged.

Take Back the Night is a rally, march, and speak out to honor survivors and unite men and women in their struggle to end sexual violence. Participants march from the East Campus to West Campus, gathering in front of the Chapel for a speak out. Survivors, friends of survivors, and others are encouraged to speak if they desire.

Please join us as we come together as a community to unite against sexual violence. The rally will begin in the main quad on Duke's East Campus (on the central field between Lilly Library and the East Campus Marketplace).

Invitation has been extended to students at NCCU and flyers were distributed at their campus this afternoon. Please forward this announcement widely to any other community organizations - a large community showing would make a strong statement in opposition to sexual violence. This event was already planned by the Duke Women's Center prior to the lacrosse team situation coming to light, but it is a prime opportunity to speak out on this issue and will recieve lots of media coverage. Please come out!"

I'll keep y'all posted as to when a legal relief fund is established for the victim. Thank you to all who are linking and publicizing this story - it is an embarrassing and tragic mark on the people of a great city and a great university, but these boys do not represent what 99.9999% of us down here stand for.

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