on campus

Justin Robinette Tells Dept. of Education That Duke University Did Nothing To Stop Anti-Gay Harassment

Justin Robinette, the gay Duke student who’s been fighting with his school and the College Republicans over his ouster as chairman, filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education.

The College Republicans weren’t the only ones who discriminated against Justin because of his sexuality, the grievance says, but Duke administrators too. That’s because they failed to take action after Justin reported on-campus harassment and intimidation, which included graffiti scrawled on walls. The group of student Republicans, meanwhile, have faced little to no disciplinary action aside from the wrist-slap of probation.

After he and fellow former CR member Cliff Satell met with administrators including dean of students Stephen Bryan and president Richard Brodhead to discuss the harassment aimed at them by their peers, their complaints went exactly nowhere. “The meeting with Bryan proved to be the most humiliating,” said Robinette at the time. “He told me he had a theory that as a closeted gay guy in the organization, I had developed sexual feelings and was rejected, and that explains this scorn I have towards them.”

So the pair met with attorneys, who advised them to take it all the way to the top. “We feel that (the complaint) would be the most effective and least burdensome,” says Satell. “You’re never guaranteed anything in a court of law, but the Department of Education is looking at a very narrow issue of whether Duke’s response was sufficient.” The complaint heads to DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, which will see if Duke is guilty of violating policies including Title IX, which bar discrimination based on sex, and has been used by the Obama administration to weigh in on sexual orientation discrimination.

As if either of these young men need more proof they continue to be harassed, let’s look at the first (and only) two comments left on The Daily Tar Heel‘s article page:

• Really? This is so silly. Why do Justin and this Cliff Satell (don’t google him) keep coming up? No one believes them anymore
— 10:11 AM November 18, 2010, by silly

• Yes, please beware of Google-ing Cliff Satell’s name if you’re sensitive to allegations of child pornography.
— 12:11 PM November 18, 2010, by Rachel Smithson