Local News

Lacrosse Publicity 'Unwished' For Duke, Durham, Brodhead Says

Posted April 20, 2006
Updated January 7, 2007

— Search the words Duke and Durham on the Internet and your screen will fill with statements of scandal and criminal accusations. It is an image the city and school are not proud to bolster.

"This has been such a difficult issue for our campus and throughout the community," Duke University President Richard Brodhead said during the Centennial Durham Chamber of Commerce meeting on Thursday.

For a few minutes, the school president, who has answered questions on a rape investigation involving members of the university's men's lacrosse team for the past month, needed time to vent among colleagues.

"If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn't do it, whatever they did is bad enough," he said. "Of the things that have pained me about this episode, one of the greatest ones is all the publicity that this has brought, unwished to Duke University and, indeed, Durham."

Brodhead said one major frustration for him is how the national media has portrayed the city of Durham -- as a backwards, poor southern town -- and Duke -- as an uncaring, elite, wealthy university.

In response to the portrayal that Duke is "filthy rich "and "without culture," Brodhead pointed out that 40 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid and that the student body is 35 percent minority.

"President Brodhead did the right thing in talking about the issue," Durham Chamber Chair Mary Ann Black said.

The image that Duke and Durham cannot get along and are on the verge of disaster is simply not true, Black said.

"We are as diverse as any other community in the United States," she said, which is also a sentiment shared by North Carolina Central University Chancellor James Ammons, who was also at the meeting.

"One of the commitments that both President Brodhead and I have made is that we are going to do our best to provide leadership to deal with tough issues that have arisen," Ammons said.

Those are issues that will not become less provocative with additional charges pending and more media publicity.
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