Administration Responded ‘Too Slow,’ Committee Reports

Duke Chronicle
Duke University

Because of internal communication failures, the administration was “much too slow” in its response to issues surrounding allegations that members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team raped an exotic dancer, a presidential committee announced Monday.

The Duke University Police Department and members of the administration initially underestimated the gravity of the situation, reported the Investigation of Duke Administration Response Committee. President Richard Brodhead, however, has effectively led the University throughout the tumultuous period.

“Once he was in possession of the necessary information, President Brodhead has provided strong, consistent, and effective leadership in a situation that would try the talents and patience of even the most skillful leaders and crisis managers among us,” the committee stated.

William Bowen, former president of Princeton University, and Julius Chambers, former chancellor of North Carolina Central University, headed up the committee. Brodhead created five committees back in April to address the lacrosse situation-two of which reported back to the president May 1.

Top administrators responded to the alleged incident in a timely fashion, but did not know about the racial components of the case until March 24-a shortcoming that the committee said could be traced back to, in large part, the DUPD.

When DUPD officials informed Sue Wasiolek, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students, of the allegations, they failed to let her know that the exotic dancer who alleged she was raped at a March 13 party was also black. In addition, the DUPD did not notify administrators of pertinent 911 calls and e-mails.

Wasiolek proceeded to call Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, and various members of the athletics department the morning of March 14, the report stated. Executive Vice President Tallman Trask knew about the incident before Brodhead, the committee also reported.

Once information had been received, the DUPD and the administration both committed a “major mistake” when they believed at face value comments from members of the Durham Police Department that the exotic dancer’s story was inconsistent and “not credible.”

Limited diversity among top members of the administration also “handicapped” the University’s response to the lacrosse situation, the report stated.

The reported added that the athletics department was to blame for not taking “clearer and firmer actions” in response to earlier events involving the lacrosse team.

“The athletics department, and certainly those responsible for the lacrosse team, did not oversee properly the conduct of members of the team or succeed in instilling proper values,” the report stated.

The committee noted that there was “no evidence to support suggestions that the administration may have encouraged the athletes, or the athletics department, to cover up any conduct.”

After reading through a number of memos, e-mails and police reports, among other documents, the committee suggested that the University present better guidelines for student conduct and look more closely into alcohol consumption off-campus. The committee added that the University should investigate school athletics and the Duke-Durham relationship.

“I read with considerable interest the report’s analysis of why the administration did not respond more swiftly to the incident and of how our work was complicated by the sporadic fashion in which information came to light,” Brodhead said in response to the report. “As Drs. Bowen and Chambers note, the situation was one of rapidly changing circumstances and considerable uncertainty-indeed; the events at the heart of the case remain in dispute to this day.”