A concise version of the lawsuit filed by Bob Ekstrand on behalf of Ryan McFadyen, Matt Wilson, and Breck Archer as it pertains to Duke's involvement in the affair.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Duke's Treatment of Ryan McFadyen

On April 5, 2006, the false rape case against the lacrosse team had already unraveled substantially as the impossibility of the stories Durham Police were feeding to the media were becoming clearer and clearer. However, that day Judge Stephens unsealed a warrant to search the dorm room of lacrosse player Ryan McFadyen. The warrant included an excerpt from an email that McFadyen had sent to the rest of the team containing a crude parody of a passage from the novel American Psycho, a favorite among Duke students and required reading for three Duke courses. Though Nifong, Gottlieb, and Himan agreed to add a new charge of conspiracy to commit murder to the rape allegations, it was plainly obvious that the charges were beyond absurd, and that the email was clearly a joke, especially to anyone who knows the size of an Edens dorm room (lest anyone believe McFadyen actually intended to fit an entire lacrosse team into a 160-170 sq. ft. room along with two strippers).

When the news broke, "Defendants Moneta, Bryan and Wasiolek unilaterally suspended Ryan, without notice, hearing, or inquiry" (p. 213). Ekstrand alleges that Dean Wasiolek "searched frantically for Ryan demanding that Ryan come to her office to sign a waiver of his FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] rights" (p. 214). Ekstrand does not specifically say whether or not McFadyen ever actually signed this waiver, but he seems to imply that Ryan did not:

"That evening, believing that Ryan had waived his rights to privacy under FERPA, Defendant Brodhead [...] provided on the record comments in which he condemned Ryan, revealed that the University had suspended him under the 'safety of the community' provisions of the student code of conduct, [...] that he would be held to answer for his 'conduct' in the University's disciplinary proceedings, and claimed that he was free to say all of these things because Ryan had signed a waiver of his FERPA rights."
If it is correct that Ryan never actually signed a waiver, and yet his "punishment" was advertised to the world in this fashion, then this is clearly abhorrent behavior from the Duke administration, and Brodhead in particular, and yet another violation of federal law. Even if Ryan signed a waiver, it is nevertheless appalling that administrators would have gone to such effort to get him to sign a waiver for the sole purpose of being able to publicly assail him on clearly absurd grounds. On top of that, it is astounding that in spite of those efforts, no effort was made to ask Ryan about the nature of the email before publicly sliming him.

In case the despicable motives of the administration were not already apparent from their handling of the McFadyen email, Ekstrand contrasts this response to a clearly harmless email with the administration's response to "an actual email threat" in Chauncey Nartey's infamous email to Coach Pressler. Sue Pressler filed a police report with the Duke Police, who did nothing, and Mike Pressler met with Moneta, who "refused to take any action on Nartey's email, or submit the matter to the Undergraduate Judicial Board" (p. 216). Nartey was also the president of a fraternity that had recently lost its charter for hazing violations. Nevertheless, Nartey was "one of five students appointed to Defendant Brodhead's Campus Culture Initiative. On top of that, "Nartey was a recipient of the 2007 William J. Griffith University Service Award" (p. 216), an award "given to graduating students 'whose contributions to the Duke and larger community have significantly impacted University life. Students who demonstrate an understanding of the responsibilities of effective university, communal and global citizenship...'" (p. 216-217).

Ryan McFadyen was pilloried by Brodhead and the Duke administration for a clearly harmless, private email while Chauncey Nartey was not only given immunity from discipline but showered with honors by the Duke administration in spite of sending and email that would obviously be perceived as a threat to Coach Pressler's daughter. Nartey even went to the trouble to look up his daughter's full name.

No comments: