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DUKE TIPS apology for counselors’ inappropriate conduct with very young campers

FORWARD:

Dear TIP Trinity Families,
Last Friday, we sent you an email message informing you of an incident that occurred at Trinity University during the last days of our Summer Studies session there. As our internal investigation continued, we realized that our understanding of the incident was incomplete. We would like to thank the parents, students, and staff who stepped forward to provide more information. We would also like to clarify what happened last week and let you know how we are responding to this unacceptable incident.
On Thursday, June 29, the residential staff had the students line up and walk from the dorm to the dining hall, holding each other’s lanyards, while some staff members berated the students, kept them from using their cell phones, and told them they would post a video of the march to social media. While we are unaware of any such posting, this type of action is completely inappropriate for any Duke TIP site and does not comply with our Community Standard, which is based on mutual respect between staff and students. Although the residential staff considered this a “prank,” we disagree and consider it a serious infraction of our staff standards and our disciplinary guidelines. Duke TIP is no place for such behavior. Therefore, we are taking the following actions:
  • Reporting the incident to all appropriate authorities;
  • Replacing the full residential staff at the TIP Trinity site;
  • Monitoring social media to verify no video of the incident is posted in the future;
  • Immediately informing all staff that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated;
  • Strengthening our staff training in appropriate staff and student interactions.
We again apologize for the impact this incident had on your student’s experience at Trinity. We hope that the many positive learning opportunities your student had at TIP outweighs this unfortunate occurrence. Please contact me if you have questions or other information regarding this situation.
Respectfully,
Shayne Goodrum, PhD
Director of Educational Programs
Duke University Talent Identification Program
sgoodrum@tip.duke.edu
919-668-4505 (office)

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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