High School Seniors Visit Duke Amid Rape Allegations

When Greg Gosnell talks about attending Duke University as a freshman next fall, the kids at his high school outside Washington make jokes about lacrosse. Even his dentist gave him a hard time about the college he chose.

But the 18-year-old from Potomac, Md., said he is not concerned about allegations that members of Duke's lacrosse team raped a stripper at a team party.

Like many of the 200 of so prospective students visiting the campus Monday, he said he and his parents have decided it is not something to worry about.

"Of course, they had opinions about how it was handled," said Gosnell, who won early admission to Duke. "But at no point were they seriously doubting my application to the school. It was only a few people who may have done this. You can't judge the entire school."

More than 19,000 high school students applied to Duke for next fall, and the highly selective university offered only about 3,800 a spot in the freshman class. At 19 percent, it was the lowest acceptance rate since Duke began keeping track in the 1950s.

The university expects 1,665 to enroll this fall. About 900 prospective students visited the campus during four Blue Devil Days held this month. The final such day was Monday.

Of the 470 students who won early admission to Duke, only one asked to take "another look," said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions. But Guttentag said has not heard anything else from that student, and about 200 other high school seniors have already given Duke a yes-or-no answer. The deadline is May 1.

"When I look at all the responses we've received, there is nothing that's dramatically different from last year," Guttentag said.

School officials mentioned the allegations briefly during the Blue Devil Days welcome sessions, said Susan Coon, Duke assistant director of admissions. She said few have asked directly about the issue during the question-and-answer sessions with the university's vice president of student affairs that end the day.

Judy Hingle, director of professional development at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said prospective students should judge the school primarily on academics.

"Something like this could happen at any campus at any time, in reality," Hingle said. "This one just got a lot of press."

Lincoln Foran, an 18-year-old visiting from New York, said his college choice has come down to Duke and the University of Virginia.

"I've seen the articles about it," Foran said. "My impression is it shows the relationship between Duke and Durham is not the best, but at least the university is taking it seriously and trying to fix it."

Rachel Winchester, 18, of Lexington, Ky., said the rape allegations did not affect her desire to enroll at Duke. Her father, Tim, said they decided before Rachel was accepted that the issue was irrelevant. He said lots of school have athletic scandals, and he does not believe this one reflects on the safety of Duke's campus.

"I don't for a minute think there are roving bands of rabid lacrosse players," Tim Winchester said. "We just decided if this was where she wanted to come, this shouldn't hold her back."