Everywhere But Home

News and musings from wherever my crazy life takes me. My body may be back in Illinois, but at least for now, my mind is still in Mongolia.

Not Okay

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I think we’ve all seen this by now, be it on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter. What we haven’t seen is an official communication–one sent directly from the University itself to the students who attend(ed) it–that explains the incident or what Miami’s response was. From the radio silence of the past week, I’ve had to assume there wasn’t one. As of today, I learned that there were; the details are here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217259/Outrage-Miami-University-flier-advising-students-away-rape.html

UPDATE: Received an email from Dr. Barbara Jones regarding what actions Miami is taking. Copying that here, so we’re all working with full information:

 

After learning of the anonymously posted flier, Miami officials called a mandatory meeting of all males in the hall.

In addition, these actions were taken with respect to this incident:

• The flier was immediately taken down and reported to authorities.

• The Miami University police department (MUPD) and Miami’s Office of Equity and Equal Opportunity (OEEO) received a copy of the flier from Miami’s office of residence life

• A police report has been filed and Miami University continues to investigate.

• Miami’s Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR) is investigating. The OESCR can take action if a student is found to have violated Miami’s Student Code of Conduct. Potential code of conduct sections violated by the creation and posting of this flier and related damage in the corridor include section 103B – mental abuse or harm; section 104 – damage to property; and 113 – disorderly conduct.

Potential sanctions for a student found responsible for violating these sections include removal from the residence hall, mandatory educational programs and suspension.

• Miami communicated with residence hall staff to gather any relevant or additional information • Miami’s police chief, with agreement of the dean of students, has increased campus police presence in the hall

Communication with male students in the hall: Staff who spoke with students at the hall meeting represented the Miami University police department (MUPD), the office of residence life, Miami’s student counseling service and a student representative of MARS – Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.

They spoke with students in the affected corridor about how the flier represents the residents as men in our society, their families and friends, their views on women, and Miami University. Further, they discussed with all male students in the hall how to stop such behavior, the effects of vandalism, creating and maintaining a healthy and safe environment for everyone, and the bystander effect of actions on a community. They also provided information on relevant programs and actions.

Ongoing resources: Miami University’s women’s center, MARS (Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault), and WAVES (Women Against Violence and Sexual Assault) offer programming, information and support. The goal of these resources is to educate, create awareness about and prevent sexual assault and violence.

The university is continually evaluating strategies and educating students about these issues.

 

Even so, I’m profoundly disturbed at having to wait a week for the details, and even more so at having to get them from an overseas newspaper, or having to ask a school official for them. Below, you’ll find the email that I am sending to President Hodge and to Barbara Jones, the vice president for student affairs. I encourage you all to write and send your own so that this message can’t be ignored. (Please don’t just copy and paste – it will be more effective if the letters are different, and since mine is alumni-specific, it would sound silly coming from a current student.)

 

Dear President Hodge,

I am writing to convey my dismay at Miami University’s response to the “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” flyer that was posted in the men’s room at McBride Hall. As of today, I have learned (from a UK-based online-newspaper) that Miami’s reaction included an investigation and a mandatory meeting for the male residents of the hall. I’m glad to hear that something is being done.

Unfortunately, that “something” isn’t nearly enough, and I am outraged by the way Miami mishandled the information regarding the incident. I learned of this flyer’s existence via Facebook, as did many others – current students, alumni, and even people with no relationship to the university. This flyer has gone out on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr; you name it, people have posted it, and most have included their feelings of shock and disgust. While I am heartened by the number of male students who find this attitude reprehensible, it is difficult to see this flyer posted with such captions as “F*ck you Miami, F*ck you and everyone who attends your school” and not be able to defend my school by explaining what Miami’s actions were. If we have no information about what consequences were enacted, how can we offer a believable argument that Miami did not stand idly by and let this happen? How can we fail to be disappointed in “our Miami” when a week of repeated searches turns up no evidence that this incident was even investigated?

We – students and alumni alike – deserved to hear about this from university officials themselves, and in a timely fashion. Reading the official accounts in an overseas newspaper a week later yields too little information, and far too late. While this flyer may not have posed an immediate physical threat to the students of the school, it still made students and alumni feel unsafe and unsettled. Miami’s refusal to notify the student population about the incident only made this worse. Such things cannot be swept under the rug in this era of social media, and attempting to do so only supports the rape culture that makes it possible for some students to consider this kind of thing “funny.”

Unfortunately, this is neither the first time, nor even the second or third, that I have been disappointed by Miami’s failure to notify students of security threats and recent crimes. I can only hope that the university will do a better job of fulfilling its duty to keep the students in future. In the meantime, I am glad that my safety no longer rests in Miami’s hands.

 

Katelin Burke

Class of 2012

 

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Rest in Peace

October hath struck again. My grandmother had a stroke last night and died in her sleep. A peaceful way to go, at least, so I’m grateful for that. But she is the third grandparent I’ve lost in five years, all of them in late September or October. She was also the last grandparent I had still living. And of those three, she is the first whose funeral I won’t be able to attend.

I wish more than anything that I could be there right now. Funerals are important. Grandpa’s wake was an all-day affair; it was a party, a celebration of his life that helped to balance the bitterness of the actual burial.  A gust of wind blew the picture board right off its stand at Gram’s funeral. I only ever knew her as a snowbird, but she had lived in many places earlier in her life, including Germany, Japan, and I don’t even know how many states. Now, we knew, she was off on her next adventure. I won’t have those kinds of memories this time. I won’t have a rose from the funeral, to dry and keep on my desk.

Nor will I return to my room to find that my roommate and friends have covered my wall with notecards and my desk with colored pumpkins, as I did freshman year. The pumpkins are long gone, of course, but the notecards have gone on the wall of every dorm and apartment I have lived in since then, including this one. I am immensely glad to have them now. Thank you, Kristin, and Corry, for love that I can hang on my walls no matter where I go.

I never really contemplated this possibility, when I decided to leave the country for a year – that my grandmother might not be there when I got back. Given the number of doctors she’s had for the last few years, I probably should have. There’s a reason I don’t throw away her cards – haven’t for the last few years, in fact. But it never really occurred to me that our hug a few days before I left was the last I’d ever give her.

I don’t even fully remember where we were, either, whether we went back to Granny’s after dinner that night or just said goodbye in the parking lot. But if it’s the latter, it’s still a fitting place for a last goodbye. My last memory of my grandfather is at Riggio’s, too; he was hitting on the waitress, much to the amusement of everyone (including Granny). After four years apart, they’ve been reunited.

During my junior year of college, I contemplated doing a writing project on my grandmother’s life. I had realized that I knew next to nothing about it. I don’t know any stories about her childhood, or even most of her adult life. The patitsa we’ve had at a couple of family gatherings and the accent my aunts and uncles adopt when imitating Granny’s mother are the only traces left of her Slovenian ancestry. In the end, I decided against that project, consolidating my work so that I could use the same book for projects in three different classes at once. I Put aside my questions about my grandmother’s life, figuring that I would ask them later.

But I never did, and I guess now I never will.


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Opinion (Not News)

Today I attended a lecture by S.E. Cupp entitled “The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity.” At the end of the lecture, I was surprised to discover one of my professors sitting behind me. He asked me what I thought of the lecture; I told him that I would have found her more convincing if she wasn’t just as general and dogmatic as the liberal media she was attacking.

One professor walked out before she had spoken for five minutes, and I understood why. I stayed until the end of the Q&A session, though the rest of the audience probably wished I hadn’t by the time I had asked three or four questions.

I will grant her, she had some valid points – and she made them much more effectively during the Q&A session, when she was no longer reading from her prepared speech. Some thought-provoking points, and my responses:

  • We trust the media to be fair and balanced, but they’re taking sides, and our mainstream news is presented from liberal, secular viewpoint.

I’ll give her that one. She had plenty of examples of the the condescending, derogatory way Christianity is often portrayed in the media. The religious columnist for Newsweek probably has much more worthwhile things to write about than compiling a list of the hottest rabbis. Religion should be handled seriously and respectfully, at least by the news. Flippancy belongs to the talk-show hosts, not the reporters.

However, while I can see the objection in a the news being presented in a liberal slant, I see no inherent issue with the news being presented from a secular point of view. If you’re going to take a religious point of view, you’re going to have to pick a religion, and you will essentially be preaching its values to those who might not share them. The secular viewpoint seems to be the only fair one, provided it is not pro-secular.

  • America is 80% Christian, and a secular “mainstream” media no longer represents the mainstream.

This figure, she admitted, was taken from the CIA world factbook, which is great for overviews but less so for specifics. Most of the people I know who identify as “Christian” are so in that they espouse Judeo-Christian values and maybe go to church now and then. Now, that may have a lot to do with being from Deerfield, where the most religious people I knew were Jewish. But I think it’s something worth considering when you start throwing around big numbers like that.

If the mainstream media is indeed to represent the mainstream, does this mean that they are obligated to present a pro-Christian viewpoint? Because I find that idea profoundly distasteful. Is not being pro-Christian the same thing as anti-Christian, at least in the eyes of the Christian public? How should the media, and everyone, for that matter, ride that balance?

If that much of the country truly is religious, then they deserve to be represented. How does one represent religion without implicitly preaching it?

  • The separation of church and state is widely misinterpreted; forcing Americans to keep their religion private is exactly the opposite of the Founding Fathers’ intent.

Yes, America was founded by people who wanted to be able to be able to publicly and openly practice their religions. By this token, I think students and teachers should be allowed to pray in public schools. But once you ask students to pray, or set aside time for them to do so, you’re showing a preference for religion, and I don’t think that’s acceptable.

I guess the trickiest part of this is that evangelism is an inherent part of Christianity, and of many major religions. But once you begin to proselytize, you’re infringing on the religious rights of others – especially when you do so in an official or governmental capacity. I guess I don’t know how this balance can or should be struck.

  • Even those of us who are not Christian (she’s an atheist) share most Judeo-Christian values. Attacking Christianity is unnecessarily divisive and prevents us from recognizing what we have in common.

This is where I started to get a little fuzzy about what she was actually arguing. I agree with the statement above. However, earlier in the lecture, she mentioned how we had gone from a time when the New York Times urged Americans to pray for the astronauts of Apollo 13 to one where the government use of “In God We Trust” was under attack. So I asked her if she thought that retaining those same values while removing any explicit link to Christianity constituted an attack on Christianity.

I did not get a straight answer to this question. Her response was essentially that getting offended that your money says “God” or at being wished a Merry Christmas seems like a waste of time. I’ll agree to the second point, though I do espouse the public use of “Happy Holidays.” If you know that someone is Christian, then by all means wish them a Merry Christmas. But if you don’t, you’re making assumptions. Having grown up in a largely Jewish community means that I don’t assume that people are Christian. 

Christmas wasn’t really the point of my question, however. It was more about the explicit reference to Christianity in a more official capacity – in the pledge of allegiance, on our currency. It was about finding a middle ground. If atheists are offended if we mention God, and Christians are offended if we don’t, how can we ever find a middle ground? Does God have to be acknowledge as the giver of those values in order for it to be acceptable to Christians – can they be “American values” rather than “Judeo-Christian?”

I don’t think that removing phrases like “In God We Trust” and “under God” from government use encroaches on people’s personal faith. Americans can trust in God whether America does or not.