Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ugh...every morning for the past several weeks I've woken up to my beloved university being skewered in the media.

If the alleged rape occured the way the accuser has stated, then the members of the lacrosse team who participated should be found guilty and expelled from school. No question about that. But until that point, the media should really refrain from convicting them. I'm all for freedom of the press, but whatever happened to innocent until proven gulty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The standard in criminal cases is "beyond a reasonable doubt," not "preponderance of the evidence." Not "well, they're rich, overprivileged kids who like to party and who come from a culture of entitlement, so they probably did it."

I did notice that, for the first time since the case broke, one story I read referred to her as "the alleged victim." That's a first. For weeks the press had been referring to her as "the victim" and had pretty much already convicted the three accused players.

If the DA goes forward with this, despite a DNA match, they are absolutely going to have to switch venues. There is no way that they'll ever find an unbiased jury in Durham. And the DA really should walk carefully to avoid any kind of prosecutorial misconduct. Granted, DNA is not always found on a victim of rape, but unless he has very strong evidence, this comes off as political grandstanding in an election year, particularly since he spoke at a press conference on the NCCU campus yesterday. I know the alleged victim is an NCCU student, but he couldn't have picked a more neutral location to speak to the press than a historically black campus?

Now, I admit, having gone to Duke and having known the reputation of the lacrosse team (well, at leas the rep of the 1995-99 lacrosse team and the rep of their fraternity back then...things can change in 7 years--yikes! has it been that long?!), I was more willing to believe her story. At least when I was there, the lacrosse team and the fraternity they belonged to, were known for being, well, assholes.

But even though I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, I was absolutely outraged at the cut-and-dry case that was presented in the media. The media charged, convicted, and sentenced the lacrosse team without a trial. That is wrong. Absolutely wrong.

Whatever the outcome, things don't look good for Duke. No matter what happens, racial tensions are likely to boil over. From what I understand, they are already warning people of potential riots.

What's really sad is this shouldn't even be a racial issue. It should simply be an issue of a possible crime (a crime that, if it did happen, is heinous and must be punished). But nobody sees it like that. The media simply reports the figures: although 44% of Durham is Black, only 9% of students at "the prestigious university" (will they stop with the incessant "prestigious university" crap?!) are Black. The median income of Durham is $41,160, about $3000 than the all-in cost of room, board, tuition, fees per student per year.

But what they don't point out is that Duke is a national university, of which the students come from all over the country, even the world. So comparing the ethnic breakdown of Duke vs. Durham isn't exactly a fair comparison. Yes, 9% Black students on campus as opposed to 44% Blacks in Durham sounds like a bad job at racial integration, but Blacks comprise just over 13% nationwide. OK, the campus breakdown is still less than the national average, but nowhere near as disparate as it seems when you compare it to campus. And they also fail to mention that close to 50% of Duke students receive need-based finanical aid, with another portion receiving merit-based financial aid. About half of all students at Duke don't pay anywhere NEAR the $44,000 they're quoting. I sure as hell didn't.

Posted by Amanda Brice :: 11:30 AM :: 3 comments

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