Summary: Did any of the Duke Lacrosse players rape the stripper at the party in March 2006? I don't know. But I know a whole bunch of them were there.
E. D. Hirsch wrote a book a few years back, called Cultural Literacy, about things we need to know in our culture to be able to understand and contribute to society. The problem is nowadays there are certain things that we don't need to know but that are foisted in our faces non-stop anyway, and make us less able to contribute in a meaningful way to society.
There has been a running joke among my buddies and I here in Iraq. Almost anytime we get around a television we hear something on the news or on the sports channel about the Duke lacrosse team and an exotic dancer at some party last March. "Did you hear about this Duke thing?" we exclaim to each other as though the story hadn't bored us to death already in the last 3 months. "The lacrosse team supposedly raped a stripper!" "Wow, I hadn't heard about it!" the other will say mockingly.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not mocking the fact that someone may have gotten raped. What I am mocking is that our voyeuristic American society can still find this as newsworthy. I don't know whether she was raped. Even more importantly, I do know this--the Duke lacrosse team could have made their lives much easier by never having had such a party in the first place. And, to be fair and balanced, I should mention that the stripper was making pretty good money, so we can't blame her!!!
I know..about now you're saying this Staheli guy is probably one of those people who thinks that "Oh, they're going to do it, so we need to teach them how to do it safely" is a bad idea. Well, you would be right. It's a bad idea, but that's an issue for another day.
I graduated from Brigham Young University, and when I'm not moonlighting as a full-time soldier in Iraq, my day job is as a computer programmer at BYU. One of the areas I support is the BYU Honor Code Office. To attend school at BYU and to work at BYU, I have to abide by an Honor Code. In section 137, paragraph L, sub-part 15 of that Honor Code, it reads: "I promise, that if I am a member of the BYU lacrosse team, I will not hold a party and invite a stripper."
I think Duke University should either acquire or modify an Honor Code, because University leadership has not acted with integrity in the matter. Here's what I think probably would have happened had the BYU lacrosse team held a party and invited a stripper--every member of the team attending the party would have been at least suspended from school, making them ineligible for further lacrosse play in that academic year. They might have been banned from future lacrosse play and maybe even dismissed permanently from the University. Would this have had a negative effect on the ability of the BYU lacrosse team to compete in NCAA play? Of course, but this is not the issue. The issue was forged when a gaggle of dense teen and twenty-somethings decided to have a stupid party. At that point, the team members who attended the party made the determination (conscious or otherwise) to ruin the University's lacrosse season.
So my point is that all the people at Duke are asking the wrong questions. The main question should have been 'what in the hell were you doing having a party like that, you doofuses?' Maybe the parents have asked such a question to their sons, and maybe the Duke administrators have asked this of their lacrosse players, but I haven't heard about it in the 987,362 times I've heard the case reported about on the news and the sports.
At Brigham Young University, the process is simple. There are certain things in life that are dishonorable, that cannot be condoned. If you do one or more of those dishonorable things that you committed not to do, you will no longer have the privilege of associating with this institution (at least until you have made amends).
Duke University until now has always seemed to me to be a very honorable institution. It hasn't demonstrated this very credibly, though, since the rape allegations surfaced nearly three months ago. It's time for Duke to make amends and reclaim the honor that I once thought it had.