Former Duke College Republicans chairman files another suit

Fights student judiciary’s last ruling


Justin Robinette was impeached in April by Duke’s Republican club

Duke University’s College Republicans are determined to put last year’s discrimination allegations against the club behind them and start afresh.

But the former chairman of the organization, Justin Robinette, who said in April he was impeached by the club’s executive board for his sexual orientation, is planning to take further action against the club.

Members say he was impeached for poor leadership, fixing elections and neglecting to coordinate events with UNC’s chapter, among other reasons — all of which Robinette says are false.

The story so far

March 16: Robinette re-elected as chairman of Duke College Republicans.
March 27: Robinette re-elected as chairman of N.C. Federation of College Republicans
April 14: College Republicans’ executive board amends the impeachment process. Robinette impeached.
April 20: Duke’s student judiciary begins the trial – Robinette vs. Duke College Republicans.
April 20: Duke University administrators said an internal audit of the organization was conducted and no evidence of Robinette misusing funds was found.
April 21: Judiciary rules in favor of College Republicans, saying the organization did not discriminate against Robinette.
April 22: Duke Senate decided not to suspend or de-charter the College Republicans. It also asked all student organizations to draft non-discrimination policies.
End of May: anti-gay graffiti discovered on the East Campus Bridge at Duke University.
June: Bridget Gomez creates Facebook group – “Petition to Duke University to Take Action Against the DCR.”
June: Robinette and some of his supporters receive anonymous death threats.
August: Robinette and seven others file another lawsuit with the Duke student judiciary against the College Republicans.

“All that we’re really asking for is a declaratory judgement,” Robinette said. “The reasons that they gave were false, and something was taken from me that I worked hard for.”

Certain events during the summer, such as the discovery of anti-gay and anti-Robinette graffiti on Duke’s East Campus and anonymous death threats received by Robinette and his supporters, have prompted another complaint against the College Republicans, Robinette said.

He has joined with eight other plaintiffs to file another case in the student judiciary against the club. During the last trial in April, the judiciary did not find sufficient evidence to rule that the organization had discriminated against Robinette.

“I think we stand a much better shot,” said Cliff Satell, former member of the College Republicans and one of the plaintiffs. “We literally had less than 24 hours to prepare last time.”

The student judiciary will be reviewing the new case on Aug. 28 and deciding whether or not they want to take it up again, said Matt Straus, chief justice of the student judiciary.

College Republicans’ chairman Carter Boyle said that he does not think the judiciary will take up the case and that he does not consider his club to be in any trouble.

“The best way to steer through the murky water is to keep focused on what our organization’s ideals are,” Boyle said.

Robinette said he is also seeking to file a case against the College Republicans in civil court on charges of slander or civil conversion, which is wrongfully taking something away from a person.

“I’m considering all options and contemplating my next step,” Robinette said.

The American Civil Liberties Union is in the process of reviewing Robinette’s case to see whether or not the organization will be assisting him if he chooses to go ahead with the civil charges.

Despite the serious allegations against the College Republicans, Duke University administrators have attempted to stay out of the conflict.

They want the student judiciary to resolve the issue to maintain the self-governing tradition of the university, Robinette said.

But many believe that the university should be more involved.

Bridget Gomez, a junior at Duke, created a Facebook group — “Petition to Duke University to Take Action Against the DCR.” The group had 327 members yesterday.

The university’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Larry Moneta, declined to comment on Duke’s plans in dealing with the allegations.

“It’s a new year and I’m looking forward to new students and new opportunities. I don’t really have anything to add,” Moneta wrote in an e-mail.

Satell said the university is not getting involved because administrators are trying to minimize the negative publicity that Duke has received as a result of the recent events.

Duke University police are still investigating the vandalism on East Campus. They could not be reached for comment.

Robinette said he hopes his complaint against the College Republicans will set an example for future students who face discrimination.

“It’s not what happens to you,” he said. “It’s what you do about it. That’s what my thought process has been.”

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