September 3rd, 2012


campus security and victimization

My university sends out security alert emails whenever there's a security concern involving a student, even if it doesn't happen on-campus. They're good for the obvious practical issues, but they also tell you a lot about university culture. I've received them from four different schools over the years, and the difference in university expectations and norms really shows in the situations they choose to inform you of, the information they give or don't give. Here's one we received this morning:

At approximately 4:50 a.m., on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, Fordham Security was contacted by a female student who reported that she was followed into the lobby of her private, off-campus apartment and groped by at least three unidentified males.

The student said she left a local bar at approximately 3:45 a.m. and walked to her apartment at E. 188 St. and Hoffman Ave., and as she was entering the foyer she noticed the unidentified males approaching her. She told Security that the assailants groped her and verbally harassed her. The student said she eventually gained access to the inner foyer door and locked the men out. The student did not receive any injuries.

The NYPD responded to the incident but were unable to apprehend the suspects. Anyone with information concerning this incident should contact the 48 Precinct Detective Squad at (718) 299-4119 or Fordham University Security at (718) 817-2222 and ask to speak to a Duty Supervisor.

Students are reminded of availability the off-campus transportation between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. daily.

So the incident occurred off-campus and they still reported it; that's not entirely surprising given that Fordham is a city school with a good number of students living in the neighborhood around campus and even the on-campus students regularly going to those same bars. The police are also involved and actually taking the lead, which is also definitely good.

But again, campus security seems to be taking the after-effects too lightly. That's not their job, of course, but given that this is the only communication we'll probably receive about this university, they could do better. First and foremost, if this woman was groped she was injured. I'd argue verbal harassment is also injuring. She may not have received physical injuries, which I'm sure is what they mean, but the language here sends the definite message that being groped and the resulting psychological trauma doesn't count as a "real" injury.

On a related note, aside from the details of the attack and who to contact with info, the only other information given is that the campus provides security escorts between certain hours. Stone-cold sober, I wouldn't have the first clue how to ask for an escort given this information. I suppose there's a phone number to call, but at a minimum you should include that number. Better yet, you should provide a link to a brochure on practical self-defense off campus like practicing the buddy system. (In Cleveland my friends who went out drinking - that's not my scene so I only heard of the practice secondhand - would have a "designated walker," someone who stayed sober that night and made sure everyone stayed safe walking home.) I'm sure some Fordham group has worked up a tip sheet, and if they hadn't, they should; it's quite common with urban schools.

I also would have liked to see the phone number of psychological services with a line that they could help anyone who experienced sexual violence, or even just violence generally. Aside from the practical impact this would have, it would send a very different message than the one communicated by this email. As written, it sounds like not only was this woman not really hurt, it was her own fault for not calling the brawny men of campus security for an escort home.

This isn't a particularly outlandish email; I've received other similar ones from Fordham and other unis I've attended. But in light of the hate acts done on campus, I've been trying to pay attention to the subtle signals unis send in their communications with students. This one struck me as "needs improvement."

new fic comm

jelazakazone mentioned the comm below. I know Tolkien fandom seems to be more friendly to established relationships than many fandoms, if only because many of the characters have been in relationships for thousands of years before we ever meet them! If you write this and are interested, check out the comm. Jela's post is included below the cut.

Collapse )

the dangers of prooftexting

I've heard of several billboards like this one:

Collapse )

For those who don't have a Bible at hand, Psalm 109:8 reads in the NKJV, "Let his days be few, and let another take his place." That's enough of a twist on Christian ethics, since the Bible also commands Christians to pray rightly - as in, pray for their success - for leaders placed over them. The wider context makes this particularly ugly. I was aware of that, but a lot of the people putting up these billboards and the politicians who have invoked it casually may not.

The next several verses, again in the NKJV:

9Let his children be fatherless,
And his wife a widow.
10 Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg;
Let them seek their bread[b] also from their desolate places.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder his labor.
12 Let there be none to extend mercy to him,
Nor let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off,
And in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

That's enough of a downer. "In the generation following let their name be blotted out" basically means that his line won't continue - that any sons will either not have sons themselves, or else will die young. Not particularly pro-life. And even without that, it's hard to imagine the people who laugh at this being a prayer they can say for Obama laughing at the idea of his children starving in the wilderness. (Recall the context - it would've been next to impossible for a widowed, disgraced woman to earn a living.)

BUt it actually takes a turn for the absurd, and almost becomes funny, when you take into consideration the real context. As Robert Cargill points out, this is David recounting the curses other people have made against him:

1Do not keep silent,
O God of my praise!
2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful
Have opened against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without a cause.
4 In return for my love they are my accusers,
But I give myself to prayer.
5 Thus they have rewarded me evil for good,
And hatred for my love.

And then:

Help me, O Lord my God!
Oh, save me according to Your mercy,
27 That they may know that this is Your hand—
That You, Lord, have done it!
28 Let them curse, but You bless;
When they arise, let them be ashamed,
But let Your servant rejoice.
29 Let my accusers be clothed with shame,
And let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle.

So just to recount, you have a godly king recounting people wanting him to die and see his family in ruin, and then praying that God will help him withstand their curses "that they may know that this is Your hand" when he is saved from those curses.

I'm setting aside the question of what relationships religion and politics should have. I personally think anyone who wants their particular vision of God to overwhelm the political process is being a bad American, but that's a side point. Invoking this kind of prayer, in light of the Biblical command (1 Timothy 2) to pray for our leaders means you're being a bad Christian. And using this particular reference to do it would be laugh-worthy, if the thought behind the prayer wasn't so awful.

I'd say if God has anything to do with this whole affair he's having a good belly-laugh at the irony. Of course, I'm pretty sure God doesn't enter into this whole line of "prayer."