A quick note about one of the “… intriguing … items” that KC Johnson recently scrutinized, a “‘report’ produced by an entity called ‘Trinity Heights Action Committee’” and then faxed by Durham mayor Bill Bell to Duke president Richard Brodhead. I’ll admit it, I would have accepted that the document is an actual report written by representatives of a neighborhood association, as Bill Bell (I mean, seriously, Bill Bell!) refers to them. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was taken in by the moderate language, the focus on concrete problems and solutions, and the appearance of constructive dialog with interested parties on all sides. Fortunately, Prof. Johnson can see right through that pretense. What we’re actually looking at here is an “entity” that’s produced a most-appealing “report,” currently circulating from desk to desk in Durham, titled “Report and Recommendations on Party House Problems in Durham’s Central City Neighborhoods.” It’s got this little gem tucked away in the fourth paragraph:
The 2006 Lacrosse incident thrust the disruptive and abusive behaviors caused by Duke party houses into a harsh national media spotlight. Although this incident had enormous negative consequences — legal and financial — for both Duke and Durham, it is by no means clear that Duke has yet enacted any major changes of policy for off-campus student life in response. Fraternity-sponsored parties remain a chronic disruption in neighborhoods adjacent to Duke’s East Campus.
As KC points out, the first sentence “provides what could charitably be described as an unusual take on the legacy of the lacrosse case” (my emphasis), while the second sentence implies there’s some kind of connection between Duke’s policy for off-campus life and the negative consequences of what they delicately refer to as the “2006 Lacrosse incident.” You know what they were thinking — let’s make Duke think that the lacrosse case was just some off-campus party that went bad and then they’ll clamp down on these kids. After all, “we have young children to raise, jobs to do and classes to teach.” Gimme Gimme Gimme!
It’s something that can only be described as an “unusual linkage” — KC hits the nail on the head, once again. And as usual the syllabus-deviating Trinity Park wannabes responsible for this so-called report haven’t answered his email. The real lessons of the lacrosse case are, as he points out, “no apparent concern of the Trinity Heights Action Committee.” They just want their little “party problem” taken care of, pronto.
It’s clear that KC’s job won’t be done until, at the mere mention of the lacrosse case (or at any invitation to “swagger like us” from an African American student organization), the entire Duke faculty stops, drops, and rolls, chanting in unison, “I will not be taken in by the culture of groupthink or violate the handbook, I will not be taken in by the culture of groupthink or violate the handbook, I will not be taken in by the culture of groupthink or violate the handbook…” There’s just nothing too … peculiar … for these folks. So keep up the good work!