sorry, i didn’t mean to startle you. please please!, don’t get mad and send someone out to get me, i know that in many places such utterances would signal troops for my arrest. continue reading please to see where i’m headed with this one…

the above statement was told to an audience of approximately 45 undergraduate students (including myself) during a lecture on the morning of 9/11. the professor rationalized, “if you really want to shake a country, you hit’em where it’ll hurt most – [in canada,] their kids, future leaders. and for greatest impact,” he continued, “it would be right here or x”. 

since x was only miles away, and in the same city, you can imagine the horror this professor incited upon students who were already awestruck by the morning’s news.

thereafter, academic institutions across canada and in the u.s. announced implementation of security measures. this was surely also affected by columbine shootings and other violence covered in the media.

nonetheless, i believe that in canada, we continued to believe nothing so sensational could happen. the shootings, injuries, and deaths at montreal’s dawson college changed that.

the flurry of media attention was, for the most part, deserved and well-communicated. in recent years, pre-cautions have been taken to avoid mongering unwarranted fear amongst the public, exploiting victims, and raising the status of criminals.

HOWEVER!

i have observed over the years many, MANY incidents and threats of violence to the university community that never hit major news outlets. of course, i am especially keen on university security since i have been involved as a student since 1999. during my attendance at various major universities in canada and the u.s., including living on campus or very near it, i have become aware of a significant divide between: a) mass media about university safety affairs; b) affliate-oriented security briefings, c) what really happened.

sure, this gloss of the news occurs in the coverage of many events (although, the press tends to be quite thorough when i comes reporting certain things like restaurant reviews). but how does one assert the ‘truth’, or more specifically, how do i know we’re getting told the whole story, if at all? the presence of “added” security measures is an instant indicator, since in my experience it’s always been “added” retroactively. but i have personally witnessed such unannounced occurences and threats of violence in the hall, gym locker room, dining hall, etc.

for instance, a few years ago, my friend was tearfully shocked after having been nearly pulled into a passing car as she returned from skating practice. i went with her to report the event to campus security but never saw any press about it at all. i’ve heard many stories about sexual assault that never hit the news either.  campus rape tends not to make news unless in multiple numbers. what about the first, or the second…

interestingly, of all campuses t which i have spent longer durations of time, they are all located in (or just on the cusp) of neighbourhoods considered to be very dangerous relative to the rest of the city. the populations are often black, which has, in my opinion played out in many ways. one of the most important is tendencies toward hostile othering based sheerly on first impressions of race. while i cannot be sure, (even my nosiness and sleuth-skills won’t allow me to), but i suspect the murder of graduate student Amadou Cisse was racially influenced. i suspect the thugs did not identify him as a student because of his darker skin tone. sadly, if he had been white, i think he would be alive today. the irony of a predominately white-populated school coming in to a black neighbourhood to “revitalize” it, makes its white students seem “untouchable”. very unfortunately, Cisse’s black appearance did not provide this university-affiliated glow and thus shield of protection.

i’ve said so much and yet there is much more. mid-terms are this week and i really must get on to wrapping up here…

in a roundabout way, i just started thinking about all of the above in relation to the tightlipped “news release” about the University of British Columbia’s lockdown. read the article if you wish, but basically the RCMP can’t and won’t say or deny what happened on campus at the Biological Sciences Building.

for now, i ask that you question the intent behind secrecy of these and other campus related events. who is really benefitting in campus-community partnerships? what root problems have been superficially covered with the pretty academic landscape? 

how many threats are necessary before the university puts it’s reputation on the line to admit it’s not just admission requirements and tuition rates that are scary?

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you know when something is relevant to you, there’s a tendency to notice references to it more so (if ever) than before?

obviously, attending uofc makes its happenings relevant to me. and for the most part, i try to stay up-to-date. given the school’s substantial (*mostly theoretical) contributions, i can certainly understand why academics (and practitioners*) worldwide would want to do the same.

what i have trouble understanding, however, is why other people seem to be so intrigued with “overhearing” what we uofc’ers have to say. for example, in a recent nytimes article about what to do on a winter day in chicago, a few commenters recommended staking out hydepark coffee shops to “overhear” us students. amidst trivial banter about whether the above ground public transportation system is called the “El” or “L”, best greasy spoons (my interest in the article), and the bitter cold, i guess i can see why listening in on our convos may be interesting.

but, herein lies the problem(s). as one former uofc student commenter said, “don’t expect good conversation: The U of C is not social; you go there to do brilliant work”. i’d also like to add: what makes you eavesdroppers think we’re just going to blab about our “breakthroughs”, a) in public and/or b) to our colleagues? (b) hints at my own biases about uofc (and grad school, in general).

yes, the above rant assumes that “lay persons” want to hear the brainy greatness that is uofc. i confess, i’m not sure why ppl are so interested in overhearing us. is it that you want to hear us mess up, see us act stupid and do dorky things? haha – my friend, just visit my blog for that!

side note: there is a disproportionate # of left-handed ppl (myself included) at UofC.

huff – i guess i should go back through my blog now to delete identifiers… meh, maybe later.