Friday, August 27, 2010

The University Of Puget Sound In Tacoma Washington Sees The Light

Today I wandered onto this pristine north end campus with the goal of having a fresh spinach salad with high protein beans on top of the vegetables. I achieved that goal. However, on the way to the salad I saw a wall called the "green spot" that has been placed there by the associated student body of the university. On the little green spots were these fabulous messages about domestic violence. I wanted to add a message.

Along came the director of the associated student body, I recognized him from my stint on campus as an undergraduate. He seemed to be completely out of his body when I asked him about the green spots with messages on the walls. He indicated he was on his way to a catered lunch. He gave me no useful information about who put these messages all over the wall. He was jovial and obviously hungry and not willing to discuss, even for one single minute, domestic violence. Still, it is refeshing to see it is talked about at all.

My experience as an undergraduate at UPS were mixed. The academic program was rigorous no doubt. But during my time there, I was sexually harassed by two English professors. One of them is dead and I can use his name. He and his heirs can sue me if they like, but I have no assetts. Still, perhaps I will refrain from using his name. He repeatedly asked me to come to his apartment to meet with him. He looked me up in the student directory and sent me cards and notes and birthday notes and more cards and even personal drawings. He was creepy. In a later encounter, he said he knew I was really far away from my family. Upon learning about my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, he said, "Sex after fifty is really good, Alison."

This creep dropped dead just shortly after I notified the university of his harassment, which would have been about ten years after I graduated. I am certain his death had very little to do with me. I think he had a bad heart, both literally and spiritually. Still, the UPS campus is delightful. The buildings are consistent with one another. They are gorgeous brick buildings with ivy growing over some of them. In the fall, the changing colors of the ivy coat the walls with a diversity not really seen on campus. With a tuition rate of thirty-seven thousand dollars per year, there really is not much diversity on this campus. Still, they were good to me. I got a lot of financial assistance.

When I got violently ill, they even sent me a personal note discharging me from my debt to them. It's not the fault of the university they had a creepy English professor. No one knew the full depth of his mental illness. Only recently have I run into other English majors who were also his target. He lived, apparently, in a crummy basement apartment with no windows. He was never tenured despite multiple attempts. He finally quit teaching and went to work for the government where he reportedly contiuned to torture people with his angry rants, horrible academic and confusing writing, and his bitter personality.

The UPS campus is and remains a place of hope. The wall today reflected cultural changes going on even in the upper class of our society. People are talking about domestic violence. People are aware it happens even in upper middle class homes. It doesn't take a creep living in his basement to spread the darkness. It could be the work of an impeccably dressed upper middle class white collar worker. Kudos to the students involved in this project. Light one candle, Amnesty International says, rather than curse the darkness. -Alison Whiteman

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OMG, do you see whats transpiring in Syria? Regardless of a brutal government crackdown, the demonstrations continue