On Nov. 15, Duke President Richard Brodhead wrote a letter to students, urging better behavior and a broader embrace of values and good behavior.
It was an unusual move. Students aren't accustomed to hearing from their president or being gently chided by him.
The letter was far from scathing. Prompted by a succession of embarrassing incidents, it suggested that Duke's image was being distorted but asked students to "face up" to behavior they feel isn't appropriate.
Was Brodhead being a strong leader by sending this letter? No way, argues Jay Schalin of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.
Writing on the Pope Center's website today, Schalin interprets Brodhead as being irritated rather than outraged by the misbehavior of some of his curent and former students.
He writes in part:
The email does not convey a deep concern by Brodhead for the students’ self-destructive behavior, but rather his irritation that their antics are getting in the way of the school’s image. Nor is there any outraged call for serious culture change on campus—just a timid suggestion that students change their ways. And it demonstrated a lack of leadership; his administration should be out in front on this issue, not merely willing to “cooperate with you [the student body] fully.”
What do you think?
Click here for some background and to read the entire letter.