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Did It Take Federal Intervention For Duke To Address Justin Robinette’s Harassment?

Just days before the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights was set to interview Duke University students to see if the school has been completely prickish about reports of discrimination (gay, racial, and otherwise) on campus, Duke is suddenly ready to settle the Title IX complaint filed by Justin Robinette and Cliff Satell, the former College Republicans who claim they were pushed out because of their gayness. Back in November Robinette, who graduated early and moved to Philadelphia for work, filed a complaint with Education Department officials claiming the university did nothing to prevent the harassment he suffered during his tenure as College Republicans chairman and afterward, and did little to even investigate the matter. But rather than have the feds breathing down its throat, Duke wants it all to go away, relays the Duke Chronicle.

Interviews with witnesses to Robinette and Satell’s harassment and others — “to get a sense of student perspective and observations about the climate on campus for students of color, [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] students, racial differences, men and women and more,” according to Chris Heltne, Duke’s director of communications for Student Affairs, who insists the chats were “not specifically about any incidents” — were set to take place Jan. 12. But OCR officials have postponed them indefinitely now that Duke is willing to go to the bargaining table. Says OCR attorney Kay Bhagat in an email to Robinette and Satell: “We are postponing our on-site visit for next week to work with the University to resolve the allegations. If the resolution process is not successful with the University, then we will also notify you of any future plans to resume our interviews with your witnesses.”

Now that Robinette has left campus, it’s hard to tell how Duke will make amends to the recent graduate. An apology letter? A special declaration when he walks across the stage in May? A scholarship in his honor? Or, you know, how about you just handle his student loans or something blessed like that.

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