Author Caroline Bachmann

IN DEFENSE OF TENURE, FOR NOW

I understand why tenure is such a sore point when it comes to discussing educational reform. In what sensible system would a dysfunctional cog be not only preserved but guaranteed repeated raises and benefits? How does anyone, no matter the system, advocate for the oiling and reoiling of outdated, ill-fitted pieces? How could one possibly argue for tenure, especially with so many “bad teachers” ruining our kids and the future of America as we know it?

EDUCATION & RELIGIOSITY

A Michigan Institute for Social Research study found that education majors are the likeliest of any college demographic group to become more religious within six years of graduating high school. The institution determined religiosity based on rates of participation in religious services, as well as how important a role respondents said religion played in their lives.

Breaking News: No Free Will!

Wednesday, International Union of Sociochemistry representative Daryl Wayne announced that free will is merely an illusion. The president of the renown organization urged the public to remain calm, adding that people need not panic if they find they cannot control their response to this scientific breakthrough.

“Thoughts,” Wayne declared at the annual conference,“are simply chemical reactions in our brains, and humans have been acting out a predetermined chain of sociochemical events since they first came to be.”

According to the New Jersey State Police, since Wednesday’s announcement, incidents of criminal activity and tomfoolery have sharply risen.

“I was just walking down the street, when a man approached me, tore off his pants, and began to jump up and down in a humping motion,” one anonymous woman informed The Perspective. Reports also indicate that the man was saying “unntz unntz unntz” as he harassed at least a dozen other Ewing citizens late Wednesday evening.

Witness Sarah Smith incredulously added that there was no camera crew. Neither Johnny Knoxville nor Bam Margera could be reached for comment.

Riots have also broken out on two different fronts.

One group of demonstrators has formed near the entrance of the International Union of Sociochemistry headquarters in Trenton touting WWJD gear and signs reading messages such as “Helaman 14:30,” “Free My Will,” and “Your Mom is Predetermined”; one participant’s sign read caustically, “Did You Predetermine This, Asshole?”

One woman, incensed by the implications this news has on the existence of a Judeo-Christian God, captured the crowd’s sentiments with a pointed question, “Without free will where does peoples’ accountability go? What does this mean for good and evil?”

The other party of protesters, described as donning tie-dyed shirts and smelling of marijuana, has begun peaceful protests in front of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Perspective reporter on the field has reported rally cries such as, “Hell no, we can’t go!” and “Together we stand; together we fight; we have no choice but to demand our rights!”

One young man at the rally told our correspondent, “I knew I wasn’t to blame for my unemployment and drug habits; if we don’t have control over our actions, we shouldn’t be forced to suffer from their consequences.”
Others at the gathering demanded that relatives or loved ones be set free from jail, reasoning that, without free will, the prisoners couldn’t be blamed for their actions—they were merely victims of circumstance.

When asked about how he planned to respond to the International Union of Sociochemistry’s statement, which effectively decreed all human behavior inculpable, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder maintained that law will continue to be enforced as usual; Holder cited his own lack of volition as reason for deciding so.

As of now, the fate of mankind is uncertain: with doubt cast upon the existence of God and peoples’ newfound immunity to blame, some are desperately grasping at the straws of morality, seeking out the few morsels left untouched by this pivotal discovery. Based on the current rate of society’s disintegration, some sociologists project that by late 2012, society as we know it will collapse upon itself.

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH

TCNJ STUDENTS HONORING GOD’S CALL TO MARRIAGE

Jolynn and Matt Graubart, both graduating from TCNJ this spring, met and began dating when they were fourteen years old. As a hardened cynic, I was shocked, amazed, and slightly disappointed to learn that no family feuding or double suicides had occurred along the way. Imagine my further surprise, then, when I was informed that this undergrad pair had in fact been married – and happily so – for the past year and a half.

“MY MOM IS RACIST”

By CAROLINE BACHMANN

For the typical white, middle-class, college-aged American, the concept of con­temporary racism seems foreign — or even extinct. But for one TCNJ student, the bitter reality of racial prejudice in America today has become a fact of life. A short while ago, Aaron*, a student raised in a conservative Jewish household, began seeing an African American girl named Jessica. After happily dating for a few weeks, Aaron called home to tell his family the pleasant news: he was in a new relationship.

He never could have anticipated his mother’s reaction.

“It was nauseating,” Aaron told The Perspective. “She said, ‘I don’t want you in my house; I don’t want to pay your tuition; I’m cutting you off; I want nothing to do with you.’

Aaron is “a white Jewish boy,” his mother lashed, “and should be sticking with his own.”

Aaron said, “she feels like I’ve somehow betrayed our people, like I’ve spat on the graves of our ancestors. It’s not something I feel like I could combat with logic. It’s emotion; it’s ignorance; it’s hatred. I’m not going to be able to sit down with her and talk her out of it.”

Aaron’s mother, however, claims not to be a racist. “I’ve worked with black peo­ple,” she reportedly said to her son. “I don’t dislike black people. But I don’t want them in our family, and I’m disgusted by the thought that our son is with one.”

Recalling a dispute he and a professor had had not long ago, Aaron reflected: “He was telling me ‘You’ve been sheltered; you’re white; you’ve never experienced rac­ism. You don’t know what racism is.’ I said by and large, racism was dying out. But then I come home and find out it’s in my own house.”

“Looking back,” Aaron added, “he was right.”

“I’ve been sheltered from it most of my life by virtue of being a white, Jewish boy,” Aaron said. “But there is more hatred in society and even within my own walls than I ever could have possibly conceived.”

“Our relationship is never ever going to be okay with her,” he said, “but Jessica and I are going to stay together. I love my mom as much as the next person, but if respect for her means I have to accept racism into my heart, I’m not going to do it. I do not want that to be a part of me.”

He explained further, “I’m sickened by it; I’m sickened that the woman who birthed me thinks this way. I cannot bear the thought that I came from a racist mother. That’s in me now – that hatred is in me. Even if I don’t think that way, whatever it was about her upbringing, her life experience – that’s in my blood.”

“Remnants of racism still exist in society,” Aaron concluded. “And they need to be pointed out and fought wherever they are found.”

*Names changed

WITH LOVE FROM MUMBAI

By CAROLINE BACHMANN

In July of 2009, a few months after Adriana Silva first moved into her rented house in Ewing, she received a call on her mobile phone from an unrecognized number. Adriana took the call, as most of us presumably would – with a hint of cautious curiosity.

A man with an oddly conspicuous Indian accent greeted her. “Hello, is this Adriana?” he asked, to which she ambivalently affirmed.

“This is Jasdesh (pronounced Yash-Desh) Patel,” the man said, “calling on behalf of Jasdesh Patel.”

He abruptly claimed to have taken quite a liking to her Facebook photos – though they were not confirmed friends. “Jasdesh” offered his finest compliments, calling Adriana a “voluptuous woman” who should expect his friend request. Tentatively, she awaited the caller’s electronic entreat, hoping to no sooner discover him to be a jokester with poor taste.

After indeed receiving and accepting the man’s request that night, but only allowing restricted access to her information, Adriana perused his profile. She noted an especially generic default image that seemed as though it were extracted from a cursory “Indian man” Google image search. Doubtful that there was anything of substance to be found about him on Facebook, Adriana resolved to permanently block the apparent charlatan.

After removing him as a Facebook friend, Adriana received multiple calls and voicemails from unknown numbers – all of which proved to be the work of Jasdesh. He called to extensively lament her deletion of their friendship.

The man, whose identity is still a mystery, also wanted to let Adriana know that he was not going to leave her alone.

The calls continued, and Jasdesh’s inquires became more explicit. He asked Adriana whether she was “DTF” (see: urban dictionary) and shelled out additional sexual advances.

The situation intensified when Jasdesh announced that he had Adriana’s address – and would soon be paying her a visit.

Now fearing for her safety, Adriana did not appreciate Jasdesh’s offers of “private computer lessons” – despite his supposed credentials as an Intel employee. In an attempt at what he considered humor, Jasdesh implied that like his company’s graphics chip, his nether-region featured a “Pentium Processor.” Jasdesh was fond of making jokes, though most were likely funny to him alone.

Then the jester got creative. Adriana received a call from a different man who said he had been instructed, via Facebook message from Jasdesh, to call her. The confused man believed he was given the number of a long-lost cousin. These blatant invasions of privacy, troublesome in their own right, kindled greater trauma for Adriana and her housemates. Whatever the culprit’s motive, she felt threatened. Collectively unsettled, Adriana’s housemates began to speculate about who was really on the other end of the line.

Immediately coming to mind was their passive-aggressive neighbor, Don, who regularly displayed contempt for having to live across the street from college students. Not long ago, out of pure spite, he defiantly threw one of the housemate’s garbage cans down a hill. Don’s grievance, they said, was related to some alleged violation of property line adherence. Don actually called the TCNJ administration to complain about the girls, which suggested a strong commitment to making their lives unpleasant. Though he didn’t strike them as particularly tech-savvy, the girls said, Don could not be ruled out as the man behind Jasdesh.

Another plausible suspect was a young man who sublet one of the rooms in Adriana’s house for a short time over the summer – and then vanished. He refused to pay his share of the utility bill, and then subsequently taunted Adriana with text messages about getting off scot-free. With apparent enemies such as these, the perpetrator’s motive is potentially not as innocuous as that of the run-of-the mill creepster across the ocean.

For a time, the phone calls stopped, leading Adriana to believe that there was an end in sight.

One night, as Adriana sat in her living room, her phone began to vibrate: Marcella, her BFF, was calling. This would not normally be cause for concern, of course, but Marcella was sitting right next to her.

The two scrambled to find Marcella’s phone and confirmed that she was not, in fact, calling – they let the call go through to voicemail. But seconds later the individual purporting to be Marcella called again. This time, Adriana answered, and was greeted with a familiar line: “This is Jasdesh Patel, calling on behalf of Jasdesh Patel.”

They decided to contact the police.

But the girls’ report wasn’t met with the judicious vigor that they had anticipated. One particularly unsympathetic officer rolled his eyes and dismissively exclaimed “Oh, God” when Adriana and Marcella tried to explain their situation. At one point the officer interrupted them, saying that they “did this shit to themselves” by making their information available online. He posited that Adriana probably had posted her phone number on Facebook, giving access to anyone with a computer and a motive. Admittedly, there did not seem to be much that the police could do at the time, unprofessional attitudes or not. But still, a bit of sympathy for what was undoubtedly a form of harassment would have been appreciated.

This much is clear: what may have started out as a lame attempt at a prank soon turned into a stress-inducing nightmare. Adriana has already taken a hiatus from Facebook, having only recently returned with a disguised name. The girls also plan to change their numbers and are looking into using their cell phone providers’ records to track down the pursuant. It is difficult to say, however, whether any such investigation would put an end to Jasdesh’s advances.

To be sure, technology allows for the potential of self-perpetuated isolation. Physical “facetime” has for many turned into “Facebook time” and for still many more, texting and email have replaced all other forms of communication. The argument can certainly be made that the rise of the Internet has brought with it a rise in reclusive behavior – or, at least, a rise in the number of excuses one can conjure up to justify staying holed in a dark room.

But in Adriana’s case, and others like it, the problem isn’t that we are becoming disconnected, it’s that we are becoming too connected. The allure of the Internet, and of social networking sites in particular, is the phenomenon of simultaneous connection and disconnection; without leaving our pajamas, we can know what millions of people across the world are doing. In most instances, those who surf over to our profiles do so benignly. And even among hackers, trolls, and other commonplace Internet villains, their antics rarely result in any lasting damage. Typically, the havoc they wreak stays confined to the virtual world.

But what can be done when disturbances transcend the cyber realm, when our screens can no longer be our savers? What happens when electronic threats become dangerously real, and how are we to know what to take seriously? Though it is difficult to imagine an individual with both the mental capacity to track down a foe’s personal information and the level of immaturity to use it as a means of harassment, such antagonists are certainly out there. I’d postulate that this sort of pithy troublemaker is similar to the kid who puts gum on the underside of door handles and unscrews the caps on salt and peppershakers.

So carefree Facebookers, be warned! Whether they reside across the ocean or across the street, the enemy you cannot see is often the most dangerous enemy of all.

SHAKES THE DOG


Advancing towards the beige house at Four Bittersweet Road in Ewing, I received two warm greetings. The first was from Mike Bottino, brother of TCNJ’s Phi Tau chapter; the second was from the fraternity’s newest and only non-human member, a playful Jack Russell Terrier mix named Shakes. The dog’s story, I have heard, is one of trial and triumph. I was ushered inside with Shakes in tow and, as instructed, “popped a squat” on one of the large, extraordinarily squishy pleather couches in the upstairs living room. Not a bad place to live for a dog, or for anyone else. After a few exchanged pleasantries and some more of Shakes’ own salutations, Mike began telling the fortuitous canine’s tale.

Needs More Clockwork: An Essay

With novels like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 spearheading themes of social justice in many high school classrooms, it’s a wonder one of the more

clockwork2recent dystopian novels, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, has been left out of the academic line-up — like a large, smelly kid left out of a pick-up kickball game.