In many ways the naiveté of youth still clings to me. I was reared to respect authority and to trust those whom society placed in power over me. As skeptical experience wears away at this ancient veneer, I have become more retrospective of the whole enterprise of the social experiment. Perhaps I shouldn’t have read The Call of the Wild after all.
A few months back I wrote a post supporting a student at Butler University, Jess Zimmerman, who was being sued by the university for perceived slights against the administration on his anonymous blog. That post has forged a connection between Jess and myself, although I’ve never met him. That connection is one of justice and fairness, traits that should, above all, be upheld by institutions of higher learning. In an email last night, Jess updated me on his situation. The lawsuit has been dropped (my thanks to all of you who signed the electronic petition through this blog), but the recriminations continue. The details are available on Jess’ blog, but the short version is that in order to have a fair trial the university had placed him under a $100,000 bond. I am saddened, but not surprised, by this abuse of power.
Over the past several months I have wearily retrod this familiar path. I too have been the victim of institutional power in an episode that haunts me to this day. In slow motion I watch and rewatch men “in authority” dismantling the hopes and aspirations of a neophyte academic who was left wondering, like a dog, why he was being beaten so. There is no action to take. There is no club to wield. The only thing required is to be aware of the situation. Although I shouldn’t have done it, I did read Jack London’s Call of the Wild. And it is my hope that young students unfairly targeted, like Jess, have the resilience of Buck and will remember their pasts when they come to lead their companions in forging a better world.