Statement by Duke President Brodhead Regarding Status of Students Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty

The following statement was issued by Duke President Richard H. Brodhead on Wednesday:

"We have decided that the right and fair thing to do is to welcome back Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty to resume their studies at Duke for the spring semester. Although the students still face serious charges and larger issues require Duke's collective attention, the circumstances in this case have changed substantially, and it is appropriate that the students have an opportunity to continue their education."

 

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Below is the text of a Jan. 2 memo sent by Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta to President Brodhead regarding the status of Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann:

 

 "In response to your question about what is appropriate regarding the status of Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, after consulting with Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Robert Thompson and Provost Peter Lange, I recommend that these students should now be allowed to return to Duke and continue their education. While the legal situation they face is not yet resolved and the students still face serious charges, the totality of circumstances has changed in a way that makes it appropriate for us to remove the barriers to their returning and resuming their student careers.

 

 "In the practice of Duke and many other universities, students are typically separated from the university when they are charged with behaviors involving violence. This interim suspension is imposed in recognition of the risks to the community and to the students themselves if they were allowed to remain. Interim suspension is not a disciplinary measure or judgment of guilt. Rather, it is a way to deal with the interim before such charges are resolved.

 

 "Our two students were placed on interim suspension when they were indicted last spring. In late summer, Duke modified the suspension to an administrative leave, which allowed the students to continue to make academic progress while not present at the university. Both have completed their coursework from last spring and are currently in good academic standing.

 

"Our measures to date have attempted to fit a wise and prudent general policy to the facts of an extraordinary case. As circumstances have evolved, we have attempted to balance recognition of the gravity of legal charges with the presumption of innocence, and concern for the well-being of the community with the students' needs to continue their education. As we approach a new term, I believe that the circumstances warrant that we strike this balance at a different point.

"As you noted in your statement on December 22, circumstances have clearly changed. At this point, further extension of the students' leaves would do unwarranted harm to their educational progress. For this reason, I recommend that the administrative leave be lifted and they be allowed to re-enroll for the spring term.

"Needless to say, the students would remain subject to further disciplinary action should they be found criminally responsible for any of the charges pending.

"Vice Provost Thompson has discussed this proposed change with Dean Michele Rasmussen, who helped craft the new administrative leave policy, and she is supportive of this change in their status. Dean Rasmussen would remain the academic dean for these students through the re-entry process."