Duke University controversy

Duke University’s College Republicans student group faces university de-charterment and is under risk of being de-funded after the removal of its president during the spring semester.

The student senate of Duke University recently voted 20-3 to de-fund the political group, as ramifications to former President Justin Robinette’s impeachment in April, according to University of North Carolina’s The Daily Tar Heel.
Robinette had been president for a year and then ran unopposed this spring before his impeachment three weeks later.

Robinette compiled e-mails and other evidence to show that his impeachment was based on his sexual orientation, not due to unprofessional conduct as the College Republicans stated, according to Duke University’s The Chronicle.
The remaining College Republican members wrote a list containing Robinette’s wrongdoings, including failure to call meetings and attempting to fix club elections.

What is more shocking than the allegations of Robinette’s impeachment is the lack of news coverage on the topic.  When Liberty University officially did not endorse the College Democrats student club last year, it was covered by Newsweek, CBS News and the Washington Post among countless other minor news sources — Duke’s situation has not been covered by any major news source, other than the Huffington Post and local student newspapers.

Liberty also received national coverage when Americans United wrote a press release discussing Liberty’s taxes in 2009, which still shows thousands of hits on Google.com.

“Last year, Liberty University withdrew its endorsement of College Democrats because the club supported a candidate that did not share the university’s views on the sanctity of life and traditional marriage,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said.

“Liberty and delegated the governance of its student clubs to VP Mark Hine, who acted on behalf of the school.  This year, Duke University is withdrawing its endorsement of College Republicans because the club is not supporting the university’s position on gay rights.  Duke has delegated the governance of student clubs to its student senate, which is acting on behalf of the school.

“Liberty’s action was front page news and Liberty was criticized widely in the mainstream press.  Duke’s action was only discovered after an extensive internet search by Dr. Barry Moore at Liberty.  Something is wrong with this picture.”

Considering the topic of bullying and intolerance due to sexual orientation,  the media is giving much to the topic, as more and more cases of intolerance have surfaced in the past few weeks. The most recent example is  seen in  Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi.  He committed suicide last week due to an online broadcast, showing that he was gay when Clementi had not become public about his sexual orientation.  His roommate recorded him via webcam, showing a live broadcast of Clementi engaging in gay sexual acts.  Once Clementi discovered the live feed, he jumped off a bridge to kill himself.

Clearly, death as a result of bullying is not what anyone wants, and it is sad that tragedy led to media’s coverage of the topic.  While Clementi’s death is a sad example of what can happen when intolerance exists, it is a relief to see the media covering topics that need to be addressed.

The scandal at Duke University is not as drastic as Clementi’s, yet it still is an important topic that should make national headlines.  Is there a reason that the media is specifically not covering the topic? Speaking from experience, Liberty has received national headlines over less controversial topics, so hearing of Duke University’s situation through the grapevine is a shock.

The lack of coverage leads one to believe that there could be an agenda by the media, either for acceptance of gays in leadership or a hate against the College Republicans — the former not being likely.

By de-funding the student group, Duke is indirectly showing its acceptance toward gay rights.  Although it does not change one’s leadership due to their sexual orientation, the school’s response declares its acceptance of gay and lesbian students on campus.

While the fine line between tolerance and acceptance is walked daily, media should bring these issues to light to reduce ignorance on the topic.

The lack of coverage by national media sources implies where they stand on politics as well.

Armbruster is the opinion editor.


  • Great article, Abby! Nick From Wooster!

  • “The lack of coverage leads one to believe that there could be an agenda by the media, either for acceptance of gays in leadership or a hate against the College Republicans — the former not being likely.”

    I’m not sure you meant to say “former” but rather the “latter”, as an acceptance of gays in leadership is exactly what the media is pushing for. I was just confused.

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