Duke Incident Makes the Case for Racial Diversity at the Top

The charges against members of the Duke University lacrosse team present a classic example of the importance of having people at all levels of the administration who are sensitive to racial issues.

A report by William Bowen, president of the Andrew Mellon Foundation and former president of Princeton University, and Julius Chambers, former chancellor of North Carolina Central University and past director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, found that administrators at all levels of the university failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation and the racial aspects of the case.

The fact that the woman filing the rape charges was black and the men she accused were white was not made known to the Duke administration until nine days after the alleged assault took place. Duke president Richard Broadhead learned of the incident from reading the Duke student newspaper.

The Bowen/Chambers report concluded that the Duke administration relied too heavily on Durham police department reports that the woman was not a credible witness and that the case would “blow over.” The report said that the Duke administration was “handicapped by its own limited diversity” in understanding the racial implications of the case.