Dancing upon a moonlit stage

Quite the experience last night. Fireworks going off near my apartment. I confirmed with Laurier’s Special Constable services that this was a violation of the City of Waterloo’s municipal by-laws. Since I wasn’t technically on university property, I was referred to Waterloo Regional Police.

After some system navigation, I quickly connected to a person. The ensuing conversation almost had me regret my effort. Students do what they want. I felt the need to apologize for bothering local police, and I did. The person informed me that a dispatch would be sent to investigate, but the damage was already done.

In other words, educational status means a person is entitled to break laws and not face any consequences for their behaviours, even if another person’s rights are violated by their actions.

I have the replies to this letter I composed for my classmates. Names are removed, of course, to protect privacy. However, since these were sent to me via one of my institution’s email systems, I have no qualms about reposting them here. It’s exhausting being told to hold silence and not receive assistance when I have done my best to follow policies and procedures for seeking that help. No editing other than name removal has been done by me in the following block quotes.

Original message; class as intended recipients.
October 21st, 2016 @ 1:23pm

Hello Tuesday class,

May I be so blunt to say that this week’s class was… painfully discomforting?  THere is another 6/7 weeks to go and I feel challenged about things improving.  I am aware that some of you share this experience and wondered if people are open to taking the bulls by the horn to have a frank discussion with [professor] in class this coming Tuesday.  If not cool beans, Im cool to play rogue on this one.  I did reach out to her to request a check in as a class.  Assuming she is open to this, feel free to share and contribute if you like.  I have to be honest, this is not the experience I had hoped and Im finding it difficult to keep my frustrations at bay.  I would be interested in what others are thinking.

Follow-up by original sender.
October 21st, 2016 @ 2:58pm

Hi again,

In thinking about this more, I realize I may have put people in an uncomfortable position and I apologize for that.  Perhaps this is more my issue as a College Prof and feeling the need to do something and not getting her teaching style or the readings and other stuff.  Ive arranged to meet with her to express my own struggles in her class.

My response after I returned to class from absence.
October 31st, 2016 @ 11:39am

Classmate reply to my response.
October 31st, 2016 @ 2:33pm

Hi Kariel!

I think you’ve made some huge assumptive leaps here, and made a bunch of snap-accusations about [peer’s] concerns and intents.  As she expressed to me, one of her main concerns is the disconnect between the course readings and the class content.  One of the major concerns is that the world-religions style textbook doesn’t fit with the course content, and actually screams “introductory undergraduate course”, so we’ve been a bit put out that this text does not focus on theological reflection per se, and it is difficult to draw explicit connections to the goals and aims of the course.

Another thought [peer] had was that she would appreciate more outlets for class discussion that are not so closely “steered” by [professor] (through the use of leading questions, and interjecting frequently) so that we can be exposed to many viewpoints.  You’ve alleged that your fellow classmates are extremely closed, and unwilling to hear multiple points of view, but what [peer] was getting at when we spoke, was her desire to engage more fully with the thoughts and beliefs of her classmates!

Ultimately, [peer] was looking for a bit of support and discussion, and I think that the folks who reached out to and discussed with her privately helped her resolve some of her concerns.  She was not encouraging a “mob mentality” as you accused her of doing.  Further, she forwarded an apology for putting folks in an uncomfortable position, if they did feel that her reaching-out was inappropriate.

Publicly blasting her via class-wide email is inappropriate, especially when I suspect that you didn’t take the time to understand what [peer’s] concerns were, and what steps had been taken to resolve them.  In the future, I would encourage you engage in a process of active listening and dialogue, rather than putting on a performance of patronizing grandstanding.

Bottom line, your snap-assumptions, and airing your grievances with the collective of the student population publicly was unprofessional at best.  Your own personal interpretations of the relationship between “discomfort” and “growth” and what it means to be a “graduate student” do not give you the right to publicly berate another student.

I sincerely hope you consider re-reading your email, and apologizing to [peer].

Classmate reply to my response.
October 31st, 2016 @ 8:39pm

Dear Kariel,

Thank you for your thought-provoking e-mail. I was absent the week before last, so I don’t know what transpired then. I attended last week and everything appeared to be business as usual. [Professor] lectured for the first part ot the class. We broke into groups after the break, and each group discussed a different reading (from our weekly readings) and then shared what we had discussed with the class. Good discussions! [Professor] did mention she would like to discuss the readings more. There were no presentations last week.

I read the emails from [peer], but I saw no responses to them. I have not seen any other emails other than three from her and this one from you. I believe she had decided that if she had issues, that she should discuss them one-on-one with [professor].

I am so sorry to hear that you are experiencing so much stress because of this situation, and I truly hope that you will not consider dropping out of the program because of it. You wrote that you loved it, and you understand what [professor] and other faculty have to offer us. You have so much to offer to the program, too. I loved your analogies for undergrad, grad and post-grad studies. I had never heard these before. In my opinion, you are absolutely right on every level.

I hope to see you in class tomorrow.

Classmate response to my reply.
October 31st, 2016 @ 9:51pm

Hi Kariel,

Thank you for sharing your experience of graduate studies thus far. I’m wondering if you’d like to go to coffee sometime. It would be great to chat.

Let me me know what you think.

Original sender’s response to my reply.
November 1st, 2016 @ 8:30am

Hello Kariel,

I appreciate your input though confused by the contradictions reflected in your message.  However, that being said, I do wish to clarify that my efforts to check in as a class with [professor] was to engage in a Theological reflection- questioning the context for which the class has occured thus far. [Professor] has reminded us many a time that Theology to question.  Why not bring the underground discussions into the open.  I must point out that I am offended that you perceive this as gang mentality and would ask that you seek clarification prior to making such judgements.  My question for you is what is behind your strong reaction to my simple andhonest question to the class?

I was given instructions by the professor whom is being referenced to in these emails. Simply put, don’t read the replies to my letter (I had forwarded her a copy), don’t speak to anyone beyond the professor, forget this entire situation occurred, move on, and be accommodating to my peers. Continue to engage and challenge as usual, and it’ll be fine.

I don’t know if I’ll forget that professor’s words: Your world is crumbling and falling apart around you. Good. You’ll find yourself that way.

No. No, it isn’t good.

At this time, I’m fighting a spreading bacterial infection in my body. I asked – several times – the questionable roommate and her long-term, freeloading, disrespectful guest that’s living here without the rest of us being consulted or forewarned before arrangements were settled. I asked for help to clean the place, asked her to see to basic household maintenance and her cat’s activities that are quite in her jurisdiction. Instead, my requests and concerns were brushed aside, treated as inconsequential and frivolous. The landlord also swept my complaints under a figurative rug.

I asked for these before and after my initial appointment with a physician and a pharmacist. I was warned that my symptoms could become indicative of a bacterial infection, and if so, I was to report to a medical professional immediately. Hospitalization was already on the horizon should things fail to improve.

Hm. So what was this about being told to get help that’s supposed to, you know, actually help?

I’ll be sending myself to a hospital, according to the consulted physician’s explicit instructions, if my physical health further deteriorates from these entitled people’s negligence that continues to this day. Hopefully, this won’t affect my ability to complete Spring term coursework. I spent far enough time and energy into preserving my health on all levels that my academic and personal work isn’t as stellar as it could be, but hey. That evidently matters little, even in a graduate program training me and my cohort as potential psychotherapists.

Mm, how curious.

Cast a pebble

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