In recent weeks, student-athletes at Duke have come under tremendous scrutiny.

They have been taken to task for having standardized test scores that are below those of the average Duke student.

One writer, Kristin Butler of The Chronicle, called the discrepancy a “disgrace.”

Ms. Butler’s condescension and arrogance aside, her opinion is certainly not a rare one among members of the student body or the alumni base as a whole.

It is an opinion, however, that is counter to that which Duke University’s mission.


When representatives of the Duke admissions staff make presentations around the country, they speak of Duke’s student body as an orchestra.

An orchestra, of course, is multifaceted–there are clarinets, trumpets, oboes, flutes, drums, saxophones, and so forth.

This diversity leads to a beautiful sound, and allows the individual members of the group to make a wider array of music at a higher quality.

If people like Ms. Butler had their way, the orchestra would be comprised of a single instrument, and the sound would be quite dull indeed.

After all, Duke University is the home to individuals with all sorts of talents. But those various talents can only be of worth to others if they are appreciated and shared, which leads to the development of weaknesses and the development of strenghts.

This is what higher education is all about.

Ms. Butler would deny those students the chance to participate in the Duke community–social, academic, artistic, athletic and otherwise–because of a test score.

Now that’s a disgrace.