Local News

Lacrosse Team Allegations Latest Off-Campus Incident For Duke

Posted March 27, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— Empty liquor bottles at one house and beautiful gardens at another -- it's the contrast of Trinity Park, the neighborhood of the March 14 party where a woman alleges she was brutally beaten and gang-raped by some members of Duke University's men's lacrosse team.

The lacrosse investigation is the latest problem involving Duke students in off-campus housing, and has added to an ongoing rift between homeowners and renters in the Durham neighborhood.

“We are experiencing, I think, more of our share,” said Trinity Park resident Newman Aguiar.

There was the baby-oil bikini bash, an Alcohol Law Enforcement underage drinking bust, and now, questions about the reported rape.

"I really think there is a problem with culture at Duke -- the partying culture,” said resident Faulkner Fox.

Duke University acknowledges that there is a long history of tension with students and the neighborhood -- which lies east of campus and in which one-third of the properties are rentals -- and has taken steps to improve the relationship over the years.

Aguiar said Duke has made efforts to ease the tension between the neighborhood and the school. Along with Durham police, Duke University officers now patrol the area often.

The university just invested $4 million in known party houses to renovate and sell to families. And for the first time, any student cited or arrested off campus also faces disciplinary action on campus.

”We want to be responsible and good neighbors, and we want students to do the same,” said Associate Dean of Judicial Affairs Stephen Bryan. “We want to send a message that we want our students to be good citizens on and off campus.”

With the new crackdown on students, 138 sanctions were handed out during the fall 2005 semester. The punishments ranged from suspension to formal warnings.

But many longtime residents believe the neighborhood faces the same problems every four years as new students move in.

"The community is concerned about a pattern of behavior, too, and how to address that pattern. We expect, as a community, the university and students to take responsibility,” Aguiar said.

Residents say they only hope that students who may have been at the lacrosse party will act appropriately and tell police what they know, if anything.

“The arrogance and bravado that they were above the law or they could think this woman is below the respect of the human community really outrages a lot of people,” Fox said.
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