Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hi everybody -

I'm glad you're all here to comment, and I appreciate the dialogue that's starting up. However, I ask people not to comment as "Anonymous". Pseudonyms are welcome, even encouraged - but it's impossible to hold a meaningful debate when you can't tell who you're talking to or whether you've already responded to that person.

Thanks, guys.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Titles Are So Passe

So! I have been studiously been avoiding commenting on this whole "Duke in the national news media" thingie. It's hard work to think about this stuff, you know that? I mean, I'm not a total rube and have been near the epicenter of Big Deals before - Barnett Slepian lived not so far away from me - but this is different. As a member of a self-selecting group of individuals who choose to ally their identity with a particular institution, it is - let's say "difficult" - to then see the entirety of that institution slagged all up and down everywhere. I have a hard enough time controlling myself when people start to hate on JJ Redick, and they're just jealous.

It is not lost on me that I have done a fair amount of slagging myself, and I do not pretend to agree wholeheartedly with certain of the school's policies regarding personal responsibility. That said, I love this school and I love the people I know here, and I vehemently defend the administrative response to this crisis. It is my fervent hope that this terribleness will cause the school to think about the issues brought up in my slagfest and, you know, start doing something about them. Because although people are enjoying their ability to hate on the Duke student body for their richness and elitism (which, did you know that Duke guarantees to meet the financial need of every student accepted?), it is just stupid to accuse the administrators and professors taking part in the fallout of same.

At any rate, in an email exchange that took place last week between me and another blogger, some of whose viewpoints differ from mine, it became clear to me that I have a responsibility to re-talk about this stuff. After all, it's been a month since I really posted last, and a lot has happened in that month. So here's my statement:

I no longer believe anything I have heard from anyone.

I was originally swayed to believe that someone was raped that evening. Through an extensive analysis of my own viewpoints, I have come to realize that I held to that belief not because of any intrinsic hatred toward the lacrosse team or Duke, but because I have this nasty habit of trusting authority figures, especially those older than myself. So when Mike Nifong came out and said "there was a rape", I believed that there was a rape.

Now it's become glaringly obvious that Mike Nifong cannot be trusted. He talked too fast about too much and boxed himself into a corner he cannot get out of. If he finds his previous statements to be erroneous, he cannot take them back. He can whine about "wanting back his anonymity", but that just makes him look like a bigger hypocrite. In short, he has no credibility whatsoever. So everything I believed about this case is now moot. I, and everyone else in the country, are left with the following pieces of evidence:

  • A history of abusive and homophobic behavior on the part of one of the accused
  • Timestamped photographs that indicate the goings-on at various points during the evening, but seem to have a great big gap right around the time that the rape allegedly happened
  • Victim IDs that may or may not be reliable (I hang around Aaron enough to know that picking people out of a lineup doesn't always work out, but I don't buy the arguments of the people who say using a Powerpoint to ID, as did the DPD, is inherently flawed)
Bottom line? That's not enough, guys. Until we get a forensic report detailing a doctor's judgement of whether or not she was raped (also, all you people crowing about how "CONSISTENT WITH RAPE DOESN'T MEAN SHE WAS RAPED"? shut up), an indication of what, if any, potentially DNA-bearing evidence was recovered on her body, what happened with the results of that DNA evidence, and some other stuff that I haven't thought about, it's not good enough for me. I am not convinced.

Now, this stuff about the New Black Panthers coming to visit. Let's talk about that. I have gotten an email warning me to be vigilant in the residence halls. Please weigh in, my newfound community of respectfully-disagreeing people whom I appreciate and who can call me Allison, because that is my name, rather than Allistan, which is a sitename.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I Do a Happy Dance, in my Tiny Pants

After a five-hour, unauthorized, probably counter-to-University-reading-period-guidelines session at video games class today, I am finished with my class time in college.


All that stands between me and freedom is one impossible paper and one surprise paper! as in, you did a whole other project that you thought you'd finished a month ago, but surprise! you owe us critical analysis now!

I hate school.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Question of Character

My first class today was optional. Unfortunately, neither God nor the Fates had conspired to let me know this, so I found myself wandering West at the crack of 10am (trust me - I am in college. this is obscenely early for me). As I stepped into the Perk to buy myself some breakfast, I saw a girl walk by me in a white t-shirt, emblazoned across the front with a single word:


No, I thought. That cannot mean what I think it means. She cannot be saying that, not this way.

But she was. As I walked around West today, I saw gaggles and gaggles more of people - almost exclusively women - walking around wearing t-shirts lending their support to the lacrosse team. To say it was hard for me to watch is the understatement of the Cenozoic era. I made me sick.

Look, I am not saying that these guys are definitely guilty. I don't know anything more about the evidence than the rest of you, and if they have those timestamped pictures, well, that could be a problem for the prosecution. But, see, the primary basis of these women's claim that these two guys did not rape that girl is this (this too):

"Anybody would be so proud to have them as their sons."

"[Reade is] one of the nicest kids I've ever had the pleasure of representing."

"I think Collin is literally one of the most kind and gentle people I've ever met."

"I know [Seligmann] personally and his girlfriend really well. There is no way that this event even happened if this is the guy that the stripper is '100-percent sure' about."

These are nice boys, officers. Nice boys don't rape people. You must have the wrong gentlemen.

But let's take a little look-see at the rape statistics in the United States, shall we?

First off, fewer than 40% of all rapes are ever reported.

Even so, 17% of all women and 3% of all men report having been raped (thus creating the commonly-cited 1 in 4 women will be raped in their lifetime statistic).

300,000 women and 90,000 men report annually that they have been raped.

80% of all rapes are acquaintance rapes.

64% of women who are raped and 16% of men who are raped are intimately related to their rapist (this means boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, exes, dates, etc).

So, according to the math, one million people, male and female, are raped every year in this country. 800,000 of these people know their attackers. Almost 530,000 of them are intimate with their attackers.

Those are big numbers, boys and girls.

Those numbers say that over half a million people every year in this country are raped by someone they have CHOSEN to put themselves in a situation with.

Their rapists inspire trust in them - they act kind, they act caring, or funny, or genuine, or maybe they're married or dating. These rapists act like nice guys in every respect but one:


In 500,000 cases every year, one person's impression of another is not sufficient protection for them. In 500,000 cases every year, one person puts on an act until a door is closed, or a partner is drunk, or they get really angry. In 500,000 cases every year, someone who is loved and cherished and thought highly of commits rape.

And in 500,000 cases every year, someone who is loved and cherished and thought highly of IS raped. To deny this fact and aver that your impression of someone is sufficient proof they are not a rapist is the epitome of insult to these people, because you imply that they were raped by their own fault, for not seeing or detecting something they should have, because god knows no one who SEEMS good or funny or kind could possibly be a rapist.

Except they are.

So please, use timestamped photos as your evidence these two kids are not rapists. Use receipts or eyewitness testimony or whatever you have on hand to prove your point. But do not use your judgement of their character, because that is not good enough.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Welcome to the Nexus of Unfulfilled Expectations

So you are probably wondering where I am, seeing as how there have been DNA test results and indictments and protests and campus-wide temperature taking and blaaaaaah. Please trust me when I say that I do have opinions on all of these things - opinions that are probably unpopular at best around this here campus and could be viewed as traitorous at worst.

However, a certain familially-inherited perversity is pushing me to not write about things when they are expected (and I can't find the specific post I'm looking for - you'll just have to trust me that he said it).

Also, there's the matter of the term paper, currently 35 pages long, that I am supposed to be writing. I was deadlocked on it for weeks until yesterday, when I had an epiphany during my yoga class* (we're talking heavenly chorus, descending angels, Monty Python foot-type revelation here) and now see spread in front of me a year's worth of work to do in two weeks. There is no practical way that I will be able to accomplish this, and yet I am going to try. So, in all likelihood, you will not be hearing from me in any substantive way for at least those two weeks.

*Why is it that, immediately upon hearing my yoga teacher tell me to stop thinking about the future and what I have to get done that day, I start thinking about the future and what I have to get done that day? Stupid perversity.

**HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEANNIE! I love you more than a fat kid loves cake. With frosting. And those tiny candy figurines that go on top.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Art: Not Easy.

So one of my final projects this semester is making a Flash cartoon. I have always suspected those Flash people to be crazy, and my suspicion is confirmed: this is SO HARD AND IT TAKES FOR EVER. Like, walking? Walking is complex to draw, man. It makes my head hurt, with the movement of the calves and the thighs and the tweening and uuuuuggggh.

In the interests of, er, "honing my craft", I've been wandering around looking at all sorts and manner of Flash movies lately, and so it is with great confidence and a honed palette that I recommend the cartoons at Bitey Castle. The music is fantastic and the animation is really fun.

The farty yellow dude is my favorite.

(You are wondering, Allison, weren't we talking about heavy stuff? We were, but I have to do some work in order to graduate, so...I'll see you guys around, maybe.)

Thursday, April 06, 2006



1. The act of pre-empting a presidential mandate by a week and a half.

"3. Examination of student judicial process and practices. Questions have been raised within the Duke and Durham communities about the way Duke deals with problems of student behavior and the applicability of our Community Standard to social life. The Executive Committee of the Academic Council has charged the Council's Student Affairs Committee, chaired by Professor Prasad Kasibhatla, to study Duke's existing judicial processes and practices for students and make any recommendations for change to the administration and faculty by June 1.

4. Campus Culture Initiative. Duke traditionally has given its students a great deal of freedom, but at times the exercise of that freedom is not matched with a commensurate sense of responsibility. We must be concerned about issues of campus culture this episode has raised quite apart from the lacrosse team. This is a time for Duke to take a hard look at our institutional practices to assess the extent to which they do, or do not, promote the values we expect students to live by.

I have asked Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Trinity College Robert Thompson to direct a Campus Culture Initiative involving faculty, students, and staff. The task of the Initiative is to evaluate and suggest improvements in the ways Duke educates students in the values of personal responsibility, consideration for others, and mutual respect in the face of difference and disagreement. The goal of this initiative is not to tell students "what to think" in some simplistic or doctrinaire way. Nevertheless, this is our chance to take the ethical dimension of education much more seriously than heretofore. An important task of the Initiative will be to enlist the faculty more fully in this broader work of education. Since we need to engage the whole of the student population in this process, we will also need to involve all of Duke's overlapping student groups and communities and learn how they can be parts of the solution.

Although the academic year will soon draw to a close, I believe the Initiative's work should begin this spring. We should not lose the chance for education in large and small groups supplied by this moment of heightened sensitivity. Some work can be done over the coming summer, and we are looking to pioneer a period of focused engagement on campus issues for upper class students in the fall. In honesty, some of the Initiative's work will require long-lasting attention and is unsusceptible to any quick fix. This would include promoting a more responsible approach to the culture of campus drinking, a major factor in Duke's recent crisis and the source of much bad college conduct throughout the United States. I have asked Vice Provost Thompson to report on the Initiative's progress at the end of this term and again in the fall."

President Richard Brodhead, Duke University

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sports: The Cause of and Solution to All Life's Problems

"The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton."

--probably not the Duke of Wellington


It's been hard for me to understand the range of opinions and emotions the late furor has brought up around campus. It's hard for me to understand the opinions and emotions it's brought up in myself alone - ACLU liberal campaigning for innocence until guilt proven,
feminist screaming to expel and lock away anyone who can be proven to have even been in the house at the time of the rape;
school employee knowing that the policies breed the crime,
loyal student crying weakly that we're not all like that, please believe me, we're not;
devotee of the Right Thing to Do wanting this coverage to keep going and going until we can learn a lesson from it at last,
tired little girl wanting it to all go away, please, because I can't be sad like this for much longer.
And beyond me there's a hurricane of other fears and passions and commitments on campus - those claiming the team is an "easy target" because they're white and rich, those claiming race had nothing to do with what happened, those claiming the woman made it all up and won't we look like fools when the DNA finally comes back and it's proven she's a lying slut?*

Beyond that we have Durham, with another set of opinions entirely.

Then there's the rest of the country,

The rest of the world,

And you, too.

Being at the confluence of so many attentions is exhausting.


Within the maelstrom of guilt and blame and recrimination, there is a rock. I think it's safe to say that everyone at Duke and in Durham believes in this one fundamental principle:

Mike Nifong is an idiot.

I sincerely believe that there is not a single living soul left in Durham County who has confidence in the DA. The reasons for this lack of confidence differ, but include the following:

The taking of DNA evidence en masse from team members before charges were filed violates their civil rights (WRONG);
By talking smack about the case all up and down the media Nifong is seriously reducing the probability of anyone getting a fair trial here, plus I think there's something in his job description about not really talking to the press all that much, right?;
Nifong's imminent re-election is of far more importance to him than the ultimate well-being of this woman;
Announcing the results of the DNA evidence would be released this week, no, last week, no, next week, no, this week, isn't helping anyone to cope with any of this in a helpful way;
If he doesn't keep his flipping mouth shut starting yesterday, the Very Expensive Defense Attorneys are going to find something they can latch onto to use against him and the woman will be denied justice for what will happen to her;

Since this whole thing started (I can't even refer to it as "the rape" anymore, or "the lacrosse case" - it is "the thing", the important thing, the only thing), Duke students have received a lot of warnings. Some of them come from the administration, telling us not to go off-campus or near the house in question lest we be caught in a driveby. Some of them come from our bosses and professors, telling us not to talk to the press, just in case, and we don't want to be subpoenaed, do we? Some of them are coming from Durham. One of them, in particular, came when two classmates of mine went to go get a hamburger and were surrounded in the drivethrough by angry people yelling about how they were on NCCU territory and not allowed there. Then someone punched one of the kids in the back of the head.

You won't find me campaigning against NCCU's right to be angry. They have every right to be outraged. If a kid from Central came up to me right now, I would have neither the ability nor the desire to defend Duke to him, because this is an indefensible situation. But what right does Nifong have to keep issuing statements that not only put HIS CASE at risk, but foment local instability and hatred and fear? His job as the District Attorney is to defend the well-being of his constituency, which I would think would include reining in his fat mouth until such a time as he has something of importance to say that will interest someone besides FOXNews.


So here we have it, a thundering whirlwind surrounding a rock of rancor. Bodies and neighborhoods are being swept up like swarms of so many gnats, rolling and tumbling until there's no distinguishing how things were before the tornado touched down above us.

Here is what we also had:

We had 70 points to Maryland's 67.
We had less than 10 seconds left in the game.

Here is what the storm had:

The storm had the ball.
The storm had Kristi Tolliver.
The storm roared and crashed as Tolliver hit an impossible three to send the game into overtime.
The storm swept up Jessica Foley's last minute three as we attempted to get ourselves a second overtime.
The storm had the NCAA championship.

So I suppose it shouldn't have been such a surprise to me to find myself sobbing as I heard Marissa Coleman scream as she jumped up and down on the court, ecstatic. After all, this wasn't about giving up a victory to Maryland.

It was giving up a victory to the storm, and the rock is such cold comfort.

*Yes, I have heard all of those things stated. No joke.
**I reserve the right to seriously edit this to make it suck less, and also to make it not equate some things it might now be equating. I'm not used to all this attention, guys. It makes me nervous.