Bad Choices at Best Universities: Karen Owens and Duke Univeristy Scandal

A Duke University 2010 graduate spent quite a bit of time putting together a 42 page Power Point presentation containing detailed information about several of the school's athletes complete with graphs, names, places…and their sizes (not talking about shoes, though). Her project's title: “An education beyond the classroom: excelling in the realm of horizontal academics”.

Duke University

Clever title. Not so clever author.

In it, Owens gives a detailed account of each guy she bedded since her sophomore year at this prestigious school; the good, the bad, and the not-so-good-in-bed are all named with photos. Karen Owens put the Ivy League school back on the front page (the Duke Lacrosse Team also made the headlines in 2006) by sending her seemingly secret project to a few friends. And then those friends forwarded it to a few more, and they also did the same ad infinitum, or as they say in the tech world, it went 'viral'.

This contemptuous document is seared into cyber space much like everything Generation Y tends to promote on Facebook and YouTube. The power of the Internet's lightening speed to spread both good and bad news should not be underestimated. Once something is put on the net, it's there to stay.  It cannot be recalled. Not like bad eggs can be taken off shelves or a bad batch of baby formula can be recalled to avoid harming babies.

What was she thinking?

Okay, she wasn't.

Or was she? On the face of this scandal, I can't help but think this is the work of a scorned girl trying to get back at an ex-boyfriend or something along these lines. But, besides the obvious arguments for and against this stupid lapse of judgment — and those who want to grab on to this as an example of the age-old double standard of a male-dominated society of whore vs. man-whores — there's a far more dangerous side parents need to be concerned with in the aftermath of this skank's undercover report, and that's the non-existence of privacy on the Internet and the value of living within some kind of moral boundaries.

Have “the talk” with your kids. Not just about sex, but about Internet safety. It might sound like this conversation is reserved for elementary school kids just learning about the dangers of cyber space, but it isn't. Not when it's college-age kids abusing this technology to harm others (the tragic case of the Rutgers student who committed suicide is another case in point).

Here we have yet another “teachable” moment at our finger tips, parents. Talk about it at dinner, in the car, at the restaurant, anywhere where your kids, tweens or teens will listen to you and point out the depraved and indiscreet behavior this girl decided to display. There's another lesson to be learned from this pathetic abuse of IT, and that's the issue of loyalty and betrayal. People young adults are calling “friends” these days include many whom they've barely said hello to face to face, but who are informed of each other's daily activities via social media sites like Facebook, My Space, Twitter, and the dreaded Formspring (steer clear of this one, kids!).

The implied trust that comes with real interaction between people, or friendship, is slowly losing ground in favor of having a growing number displayed on someones wall for all to see — in kids minds this means they're accepted and/or popular. But, just as easily as they clicked on the acceptance, those same 'friends' can de-friend, or worse, publish something they thought was between them and only them, thus eroding the trust friendships are based on…with one click.

While you're at it, remind them to never post anything personal about themselves or anyone. Ever. No posting stupid photos of them doing keg stands at parties or in their underwear as teens are prone to doing these days. 

You can also share this video with them.

Parents, the information that can be shared by the technology our kids hold in their silly iPhones or iTouches (personal videos, photos, status updates, etc.) can be more damaging than the radiation emanating from these high tech devises. Just ask Karen Owens if she'll be trying to get a job after recently graduating from this hallowed learning institution. The results of doing a Google search of her name will no doubt supply your answer.

Life is not simply based on solid academics; the rigor of an Ivy League education isn't enough to get on in life without the rigorous lessons about morality and values only parents can provide at home.

Stay on top of this, parents (no pun intended).


  1. Anonymous says:

    That was a great post with such a good message. We need to remind our kids CONSTANTLY about internet safety & the dos & donts on the web. My junior high kids have said that naked pictures of various students have already circulated the school. These are 6, 7 & 8th graders!!! WTF? It's a scary world out there, but we are living in it & so are our children. Thanks for tonights dinnertime topic at my table!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Scary world indeed! What is scarier is that so many parents are unaware of their kids' online activities untile it's too late. Could having a class in online ethics and proper use be in our kids' future curriculum? Bullying is only part of the problem — not the whole problem. Maybe school coupled with home education about what is going on in cyberspace could help to avoid these tradgedies. After the Rutgers incident, I know my son's college held a school-wide assembly to discuss the consequences of improper use of the Internet and abuse of privacy.
    For now, you are right: Parents are the key.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.