Friday, March 02, 2007

Duke Lacrosse Case Revisited: It's Still the Booze-Fueled, Boorish Misogynism

SWNID cites with approval the commentary in Inside Higher Ed by Penn anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sunday on the Duke lacrosse case and the reactions to its legal collapse. Readers should not draw the conclusion that might lie near the surface: that Sunday seeks to convict the Duke lacrosse players because their case bears resemblance to an earlier one that led to multiple convictions. Rather, the point is that, guilty or innocent, the undeniable facts of the episode point to a deplorably misogynistic culture that lies at the heart of far, far too many collegiate athletic teams.

We quote some apt paragraphs, what happen to be the one first and two last paragraphs, in fact:

Roiling the blogosphere with opinion mostly favoring the Duke University lacrosse team players, the aftermath of the now notorious party has shaken up Duke with charges of sexism and racism on one side and outraged declarations calling for campus administrators to support “our students” on the other. The furor has distracted attention from the misogynist sexual culture on display at the party. Regardless of the outcome of the legal case against the indicted players, the question raised by an administrator regarding whether Duke intentionally or unintentionally promotes “a culture of crassness” remain. . . .

It is a shame that the commentary focusing on the legal issues and the alleged ethical violations on the part of the DA has obscured the broader cultural issues such as the impact of alcohol in this case and more broadly on college campuses. It is now well known that there is a high correlation between campus rape and alcohol. The 2004 study by the Harvard School of Public Health involving 119 colleges and 23,000 students establishes this beyond a reasonable doubt. Another important finding of this study indicated that the highest rates of rape are found on campuses with a lax alcohol policy.

In its report the faculty panel charged with reviewing the Duke lacrosse culture stated that “alcohol is the single greatest factor involved in the unacceptable behavior of Duke students in general and members of the lacrosse team specifically, both on-and off campus.” The report indicated also that “the university’s ability to deal fully with the problem of alcohol is undermined by its own ambivalence toward drinking and the conduct it spawns.” The report expressed “deep concern” with this finding saying that by its “lack of leadership in this area” the university is “implicated in the alcohol excesses of lacrosse players and of Duke students more generally.” This kind of honesty provides the sort of moral leadership that can turn the tide on campus from the culture of crassness into the culture of character and gender parity.
Most particularly, we applaud the correlation of character and gender parity. Men of character don't treat women as objects for their own gratification, and we are not pleased with those self-styled "conservatives" who have argued as if this was not the self-evident case.


Tim said...

I'm all agreed on this, except the reason for the yawns here is that the general public was promised the red meat of a racially fueled, brutal gang rape and was given Girls Gone Wild.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

I'd agree to your yawn were it not for the fact that billions of private and public funds are invested in undeergraduate higher education every year, yet no one in the public forum wants to talk about this pervasive phenomenon, not even as a matter of fiscal responsibility.

And by the way, it's mostly the guys who are going wild here, though some of the girls have been co-opted.

wayne fontes said...

The author's name is Sanday. One aspect of this case I think that you are missing is that the very people who are now criticizing the culture of crassness are the uber PC left of the faculty. Prior to this incident they were celebrating the shallow hook up culture at Duke and completely silent on the issue of alcohol.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

We "are missing" a lot of aspects of everything: blogging, like all discourse, is selective.

We don't for a minute purport to make common cause with the Duke faculty or anyone else who wants to celebrate the hook-up culture or any other form of selfish, self-and-other-destructive behavior. Boo to the whole lot of them. Hooray instead for those lonely voices who call for civilized self-discipline as the hallmark of higher education.