Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quite a Mess at Duke

You won't see me write a lot about lacrosse on this blog--I'm only a casual fan. Unfortunately, though, this story from NCAA men's lacrosse deserves attention, but not because of anything happening on the field.

Three Duke University lacrosse players have been accused of pulling an exotic dancer at a private party off-campus into a bathroom, then beating, choking and raping her. The dancer was african-american, and she says her attackers were white.

The school and Durham police are investigating the charnges. DNA samples have been taken from 46 of the 47 players on the roster. I had no idea there were 47 players on a lacrosse roster. The one african-american player was exempt from e suspicion--ironic isn't it?

For those of you not familiar with Durham, the school hardly blends with the community. Unlike nearby Chapel Hill, where the University of North Carolina fits seamlessly with the upscale college-town surroundings, Durham is nearly a 50/50 mix of whites and african-americans with some very poor, rough sections. Many of the Duke students come from hundreds of miles away and pay $43,000 per year in tuition. The fact that three of those white students are accused of attacking an african-american girl has that segment of the Durham population severely pissed and has prompted protests in town.

The school has suspended the lacrosse season until someone either comes forward or investigators finger the perps. The players have closed ranks--the report indicates none of them are cooperating with the investigators.

Before patting the school administration on the back for taking decisive action, consider this. According to ESPN, at least 15 members of the team have previously run afowl of the law during their time at Duke. These charges, none of which resulted in jail time, all came from drunk and disorderly behavior. I know boys will be boys and I know college students drink, but this is quite a pattern of bad behavior.

As this investigation unfolds, the school will likely have to answer why this was tolerated and if that tolerance helped lead to the events of March 13.

Folks, this is the type of mess that no one is likely to walk away from unstained. The amount of carnage and the number of ruined careers for both students and administrators remains to be seen, but rest assured there will be some.


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