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Duke Report Calls for Changes in Housing, Athletics

Posted February 27, 2007

— A report released Tuesday said Duke University could become a more “inclusive academic community” by changing its curriculum, housing system, alcohol policies and other key aspects.

The report was the final product of the university’s Campus Culture Initiative Steering Committee, which Duke President Richard Brodhead appointed last spring following the arrests of three Duke lacrosse players after an alleged incident at an off-campus party.

He asked the committee to assess and report on a variety of on-campus issues. In its report, the group praised Duke for “its institutional courage not to shy away from tough issues” and proposed recommendations ranging from enhanced faculty ties with undergraduates to a clearer university policy on underage student drinking.

The report also calls for changes in areas such as dining and residential housing, including an end to the practice of assigning West Campus housing to selective living groups such as fraternities.

According to the report, the social life of Duke students is too often organized around drinking, and “the risk of another alcohol-related death in the Duke community is very real.”

The report calls on Duke officials to “re-orient social life on campus to reduce the centrality of alcohol and enable more non-alcohol events and venues.”

"Students understand a certain way of being, and we're asking them to imagine a different way of being on campus," said committee chair Robert Thompson.

Moreover, while the committee praised the record of Duke student-athletes in both competition and the classroom, they said “strong and persistent forces” nationally make it more difficult to balance academics and athletics.

The report recommends that Duke officials should decrease practice and travel time demands on its student-athletes and calls for stronger ties between athletic programs and other parts of the university. The committee also recommends higher admission standards for Duke athletes.

"It's really important that the administration has processes that allow us to recruit athletes that can take advantage of academic opportunities here and who come equipped to manage the difficult academic expectations we have," said committee vice-chair Larry Moneta.

Broadhead said in a statement that none of the proposed changes are a “done deal,” nor are any of them off the table as university officials begin to debate their implementation.

“The important thing now is to have the conversation the report is meant to launch,” Broadhead said.

On Duke's campus Tuesday, students turned serious when asked about the report.

"Culture is not going to change with a piece of paper," said Duke student Michael Blake. "It's something that won't happen for a long period of time. Students have to be behind it to make it happen."

"I think it's definitely a great initiative," said Duke student Jun Wu. "I appreciate the administration taking the step to do that in the wake of the lacrosse incident."

Broadhead said he has asked university provost Peter Lange to orchestrate campus discussions and establish appropriate timetables for each set of issues. He requested a report on the results of Lange’s efforts by the middle of the fall term.

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  • willis2 Feb 28, 2007

    Great - now Duke is going to "re-orient the social life" of its students. This should be a real challenge! I thought the report was going to assess on-campus issues, not make proposals that are going to change the housing and dining situations so students don't drink.
    Most sutdents at Duke have also been accepted at Ivy league schools - they come to Duke because they do not want their social lives "engineered" by out-of-touch administrators and faculty. This manufactured culture will not end drinking; only peer pressure will end the binge drinking that is so dangerous.
    Duke student-athletes have always ranked way above average in graduation rates; higher admission standards may not be necessary of even advisable. Did the athletes have any input?
    Michael Blake's statement says it all; a piece of paper will not change student life at Duke.

  • FloydRTurbo Feb 27, 2007

    For those who want to dismiss concerns over underage drinking with the "little moron's reasoning" of "drinking is a college student's rite/right ... we all did it, so will they ... blah blah blah".

    Thats fine IF (1) the only person effected is the student his/herself who binge drinks, contracts alcohol poisoning and is discovered dead in his/her dorm room the next morning ... good riddance ... and then there's drunk drivers, alas, who usually kill others rather than themselves ... uh oh! .... and (2) check the back of your local phone book. You will find a team of grinning TRIAL LAWYERS all anxious to sue your dear old alma mater for violation of "in loco parentis" (aka "not taking good care of its students and protecting them from themselves").

    The Students Right To Get Drunk Crowd usually cares primarily about the colleges sports team and not much else ... but a multi-million $$$ law suit might even impact REALLY IMPORTANT stuff like sports!

  • Tarheeljunior Feb 27, 2007

    Harrison, I think the buzz has been less hushed on the most recent alleged rape case because the media (and hopefully DA) learned their lessons the first time. A crime such as that deserves an uncompromised investigation. Also, it seems as if the victim in this newest case would rather have justice than 5 minutes of fame.

  • happyday Feb 27, 2007

    yall get on my last nerve. the Duke Lacrosse Hoax etc. how many headlines have you seen the past few months that have read "Duke student this and that" yeah it's a problem at most colleges but you dont see UNC, Wake Forest, Central, and Eastern in the news every single day do you? No! and as far as stevensstuartharold -at- yahoo -dot- com
    what goes on at college leaves college the minute a drunk driver kills someone or a drunk person assaults someone. The drinking age is 21 for a reason, most 18-20 year olds aren't mature and responsible enough to handle the pressure.

  • FloydRTurbo Feb 27, 2007

    Agreed ... there is definitely a Gang of 88 influence in this (duh!) but that should not taint the whole report ... but it will. Throw out their favorite buzzword "the D word ... diversity" and look at the important elements.
    Lesbians, Blacks, midgets and Eskimos probably binge drink too.

  • jeezohpete Feb 27, 2007

    This report was authored by the same people among the Gang of 88 who wrote the "listening" statement. They are just furthering their agenda, once again.

  • stevensstuartharold Feb 27, 2007

    Yall all are full of crap on trying to crack down on underage drinking. As college student drinking is a rite thats been in colleges for a longer time that yall are alive. The new drinking laws have changed nothing except more secretive and supervised keg parties. Rember yall what happens in college stays college.

  • FloydRTurbo Feb 27, 2007

    The worst mistake to make here is to think this is "a Duke story". This report would apply to 98% of the colleges in this country.

    The Lacrosse/Nifong Hoax might have instigated the study but that should not discount the recommendations. Underage and binge drinking is becoming epidemic on college campuses and is much more than "kids being kids and it's just part of going to college ..."

    Maybe the warring factions over the Lacrosse Mess could actually agree on this ... ??? .... sigh, probably not.

  • der_Marv_meister Feb 27, 2007

    Thats fine and all regarding housing and athletics changes, but what about underage drinking, bingeing and those late night parties? All schools should start cracking down further on this stuff. But then again, if it is off campus, like many of them are, I guess little can be done from the Univbersity standpoint.

  • Harrison Bergeron Feb 27, 2007

    rpennington1, you are absolutely right. Maybe WRAL should change its name to DukeWatch or something like that. Funny how there hasn't been any buzz from them on the second alleged rape case. In fact, the comparative silence on that story has been deafening.

    Seems like all the comments on the lacrosse case(before they are deleted) indicate the general readers' disgust at the story and why it is still making headlines.