War among USM Factions Looms

Published Summer 1996
Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS USA

The conflict between the Administration and the Graduate STudents cannot be completely evaluated without considering how it has affected the undergraduate population.

Many have wondered whether undergraduates should be involved in this conflict, but whether we like it or not, undergraduates cannot avoid playing a role in the struggle. the relevant question is, are we being involved “unfairly?”

Is someone manipulating us like pawns in a sordid political game? Many of us sign the classic sigh of the petty-bourgeoisie, feeling crushed between the pincers of organized proletarians on the one hand and greedy capitalists on the other.

But perhaps that sigh is somewhat misled. Indeed, we can draw a more accurate picture of what is going on by looking at USM’s ongoing political struggle as a battlefield, upon which various armies are constantly maneuvering, trying to further their interests.

The army of cheap housing, is a coalition comprised of graduate students. The Coalition certainly has a strategy – to put as much pressure on the administration as possible in order to obtain fair housing costs.

The administration’s army of lawyers has a finely tuned tactic of its own, which it adopts every time a conflict rolls around ignore the students as long as possible, until you see the whites of their eyes, and then empty your ammo clip. Fortunately, in the past USM has run out of firepower. Unfortunately, the administration’s tacticians haven’t figured out a better way of dealing with their students, which leaves us with a messy conflict every few years.

The third army – yes, USM has a cluttered battlefield – is ours, the undergraduate army, the pearl of the university. We are generally leaderless, running headlong into crossfire, bereft of strategies or even clearly defined interests. Let this be a brief attempt at outlining our plan of battle.

First, we must identify our objectives. The most obvious one, which unites us all, is the wish to avoid a conflict. Many of us have made tremendous sacrifices to get here, and it would be deplorable for our studies to be disrupted by untaught classes, uncooked food, and unclean toilets.

In order to avoid a conflict we must identify who is primarily responsible for precipitating it: the administration or the graduate students?

Many of us rush to say: the grad students! After all, if there weren’t student organizations, there wouldn’t be conflicts. While this may well be true, we must realize that students do not like conflict. As a matter of fact, they probably dislike them as much as the administration does. Students are for collective bargaining, not conflicts. Conflicts are always a last resort. They are unpleasant, lean times, and the students do not always win. Graduate students do not want to battle either, believe it or not.

Who, then, is to blame for a looming conflict? One whom should undergraduate strategies train their telescopes? Who has stonewalled? Who always tries to make cutbacks? Who is manipulating the simpleminded among us to scrawl “Graduate Students screw undergrads” on the walls? Who can afford to settle this conflict now but won’t – simply out of sheer corporate stubbornness?

No one is responsible for involving us in this conflict: regardless of whether or not it is fair, we are naturally involved because we are members of the USM community. What is relevant is what we can do to avoid a conflict, and that is to tell our administrators to negotiate responsibly with all of USM’s students.

Our director of Residence Life, Lorinda Krhut, claimed in meeting with grad students that the administration would deal with the upcoming housing controversies “reasonably.” We, as undergraduates should reply: practice what you preach.

Problems of a Drunken Man

He stumbles in and can’t wait for the release. He’s been holding off for over an hour, but finally the tension builds too high.

“I can’t get them loose.” He struggles, but the buttons won’t come open. He’s staggering around the bathroom in a drunken stupor. Considering asking someone for help, he notices that no one is at the urinals and no feet pop out from under the stalls. “What am I going to do now?” His blue jeans fit tightly over his legs and other body parts that might catch someone’s eye in some other situation. This and his not being able to feel his hands adds to his difficulty. His brand-new red oxford is soaked from splashes of alcohol and perspiration.

He begins squeezing his legs together because ht thinks it’s starting to flow, but realizes it’s only water lying on the sink he has leaned against. Suddenly, he feels a trickle creeping along his inner thigh and starts jumping around. “If I don’t go soon, I;m going to have a real problem!” He tears at the buttons again and in the process rips a hole at the crotch. Some weirdo-hippie walks in and he tries to act nonchalant. “I hope he gets out here soon,” he mumbles under his breath. After eyeing him, the stranger quickly exits without even using the bathroom. “Thank God! Now if I could only open my pants!”

He turns away from seeing the door, but thinks he hears it open and close. “What now?” he mutters. The lights go out and he feels a pair of large hands grasp him around the waist. “Hey, what the ….?” the stranger picks him up and shakes him around. He feels the tension in his bladder go away and wetness invades his pants and shoes. As the stranger lets go, he drops to the floor, laughing hysterically. The lights flick on and his buddy is standing above him, a grin covering his face.

“Thanks, bud!” he says through his giggling. “Thank anyone still wants to take me home?”

Dream Travel

The happiest day of my life was the day I dropped him off in the parking lot outside the palace and drove away, watching his every move in the rear view mirror, watching him twitch and shudder against the shadows of the palace. He was fat. The night before we stayed up late and naked in bed with the windows open and listening to the barge horns echo off the bay. And before we made love I took him to the bathroom and shaved his privates. He sat on the toilet. I used a washcloth and wet him with warm water. Then shaving cream. The sharp cold razor across his skin, his sunburned skin, slow and gently. We didn’t talk much.

I could drive back tonight and marry him. I could shave him again under the white light in the bathroom, dress him up nicely, tell him what to say. We could walk down the steps of the palace. It would be cold. The moon would be full and white like the bathroom tiles. The moon would reflect from the puddles in the parking lot where I dropped him off and left him. I was happy!

I will visit him in dreams. All it takes is a personal object, a piece of his hair, a shirt, something he’s touched. I have plenty. You burn candles. You say prayers like god I hate this body, I hate this skin, I hate this body. Then fall asleep with the object under your pillow. Look at his hands in the dream. Look at his dream hands. I made those lines in his palms myself. While he slept.

I drove north all day and cried, listening to different radio stations coming in and out of range. I will send him a map of my body. So he will remember and be happy. I am happy. Now we can write letters and call long distance. Now there are no fingerprints or bruises on my body. I will visit him in dreams. Then out bodies won’t remember the damage. We will be weightless and forgiven, no cold wind blowing across our bodies when we touch, reminding , only warm sky and stars to shine through us. He wants me to come back. We were loading my car and he sat down on the steps and cried. He wants me to come back.

I will visit him in dreams. It’s easy. Oh god I hate this body, I hate this skin, I hate this body, I hate this planet, I hate his hands smearing shit all over my stomach under those cool white sheets under darkness in the palace doors closed eyes open I hate this memory burning in the distance away I hate this distance seven hours of static I hate this skin I hate this body I hate this skin. He’s heavy with words and drugs and a million phantoms circling his body like insects, like heaven, like insects swarming in his head all buzzing my name, I’m gone forever, I’m happy.

So now we come to the end of my story and my poor car in the driveway sweating from the drive and no I’ll never feel his breath against my body again, I’m praying, never, and the letters will stop and the phone calls will get shorter. And this life can’t be rewound like a cassette and played over or recorded again with different voices and rhythms, with different words left unsaid. It plays on and you can’t go back. It ends and then we’re ejected and then what? I have some ideas. maybe they just put us in another stereo. Maybe now, tonight, in my dream, I’ll roll over and find him beside me and he’ll whisper the answer in my ear.

Dewelling on past, continues cycle of persecution

published July 3, 1996
Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi

Imagine the following scenario: a nation is suffering from the consequences of a harsh military defeat aggravated by a severe economic depression. Within that nation, a minority historically persecuted throughout Europe has achieved a degree of assimilation that is virtually unprecedented anywhere else. But the harsh economic conditions within the country invite a young party struggling for political survival to revive an old collection of myths and stereotypes, all designed to scapegoat the financially successful minority for the majority’s problems. Every effort is made to undo the assimilation that has taken place, and to distinguish the minority from everyone else. A large war involving all of Europe is sought. In the course of the war, many members of the minority are brutally slaughtered in death camps. The aggressor nation is militarily defeated. After the war, the minority pulls together, and takes pride in distinguishing itself from the rest of the world, basing much on its new found identity on a shared experience of victimization.

So now, you tell me: who won World War II? And for that matter, tell me whether the slaves in the United States were ever really liberated? There are many other questions of this kink I could pose, and I think the answers are all inconclusive. The situation is much more intuitively comprehensible on the individual level. For any combination of stupid reasons, a little boy grows up hated by his peers. He learns to resent them. Eventually, he turns into a hateful adult who is now hated for very good reasons. The persecutors have succeeded in turning their victim into the very monstrosity that they had wrongly envisioned him as being.

This is how persecution engenders its vicious circle. It enslaves the minds of the enslaved, and long after their chains are broken, their slavery continues. The Holocaust could be called, I think, the central event in “the Jewish experience.” To this day, tremendous effort goes into remembering what happened. Consider the Academy Award winning documentary featuring “Anne Frank Remembered” and the winner for documentary short subject “One Survivor Remembered.” All the memories, I am sure, create their sick kind of nostalgia, but is it not time to get beyond the 1940s? What about forgetting?

Intelligent feminists will regularly counsel the victims of sexual crimes not to allow their victimization to become their reason for living. The ultimate victory over a crime like rape is to allow oneself to become more than the victim of a rape. If this does not happen, the rapist has won. The victim must be able to forget – not deny – just forget. There is, after all, a good kind of forgetting. Why does the analogy so seldom carry over into the realm of mass persecution?

Many will contend that we cannot allow ourselves to forget the Holocaust. They will smugly respond with Seorge Santayana’s old adage; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” From this logic, it follows that the great lesson of the Holocaust is that there must not be another Holocaust, and the way to prevent another one is to remember the original one. First of all, Bosnia has graphically illustrated the idiocy and practical inadequacy of such thinking. Very conveniently, we don’t refer to the situation there as a Holocaust. We say “ethnic cleansing.” This way, we can think of it as something entirely novel and unexpected, and so the lesson of Bosnia now becomes that there must never be another Bosnia. And it all keeps on rolling along….

While everyone is so busy remembering to remember, they tend to forget that remembering is the very problem that drives the engines of persecution and genocide. Memories of ancient ethnic and racial rivalries are rekindled to someone’s political advantage, and the targeted minority revels in its minority status, making the task of the persecutors infinitely easier. It’s kink of like fighting a guerrilla war while wearing bright red uniforms.

A few weeks ago, the parents of a good friend of mine yelled at him for having a love interest who was not jewish. “The Jewish race is dying out,” they argued, citing frequent instances of cultural ignorance and intermarriage. I take that as a statement of hope. If the Holocaust ever had a lesson, it has nothing to do with remembering, and everything to do with forgetting the silly ethnic, racial and religious boundaries that separate us from one another.

Yet even in an environment like USM’s many refuse to get involved with anyone outside their own accident-of-birth group. They are content to obey and allow their historically myopic elders to breed them like cattle, and long after D-day, the Germans are winning the war. maybe one of their architects of genocide knew that if those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, those who cannot forget the past are doubly condemned.

Buddhist Story Illustrates Need for Discussion

Published September 17, 1996
Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS USA

In Buddhist traditions, young acolytes travel from temple to temple seeking a place to camp out and study with established masters.

At each stop, the would-be apprentice must engage in a philosophical parole with one of the established monks.

At one such temple a monk was assigned the duty of engaging any passing acolytes. But since the temple was full, he was instructed to carry on only speechless dialogues admission.

This particular monk had only one eye.

No sooner had the one-eyed monk taken up his watch than a young acolyte – we shall call him Grasshopper – approached.

Upon introducing himself and receiving no reply, Grasshopper held up one finger and thrust it toward the one-eyed monk’s face. the one-eyed monk held up two fingers and thrust them with equal vigor toward the visitor, to which young Grasshopper responded by holding up three.

At this point the one-eyed monk held up his fist and shook it at the youth. Pausing and contemplating the one-eyed monk, Grasshopper hung his head and walked away.

As the dejected youth passed by on the way out, the master inquired as to what had transpired?

“Oh, Master,” moaned Grasshopper, “I have been shown the inadequacy of my thinking by an intellectual better.”

“How is this so?” asked the master.

“When I realized our discussion was to be speechless, I held up one finger to represent the Buddha. Your monk then held up two fingers to signify the Buddha and his teachings, to which I held up three to show the Buddha, his teachings and his followers. He trumped me by holding up his fist, demonstrating that the Buddha, his teachings and his followers are all one and the same.”

As the master watched the acolyte walk away, he was approached by the one-eyed mond, who was clearly agitated.

“What has upset you so?” asked the master.

“When the impudent wretch discovered that our conversation was to be speechless, he held up one finger to show that I had only one eye. I then held up two fingers to commend him on his good fortune at having two eyes, to which he held up three fingers to demonstrate that between us we had three eyes. That’s when I held up my fist to inform him that he was a half-wit and if he didn’t get out of my face I would punch his lights out!”

Everywhere you look today, people are talking past one another. Not so much talking as shrieking, whining, threatening, jabbing each other in the chests and beating each other silly with placards.

Seems you can’t have a conversation with anyone anymore without their becoming incensed at some perceived affront and going ballistic.

The new academic year gives us each the unique opportunity to change the nature of the debate. We can stand on the side of civility and treat those with whom we differ with dignity and respect, or we can snarl and tear at one another like a pack of wild pigs.

For intellectuals like ourselves the choice is clear. Be civil, or I’ll beat you up.

Pornography more common on campus than people want to admit

Published July 10, 1996
Student Printz
University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS USA

We want to see a porno. I know you have them somewhere, buried underneath half-dry towels, discarded flannel boxers, and unread sociology packets. Tapes with blonde women with plastic breasts and stair-master thighs on their covers. All we wanted was to borrow about five.

The idea was to write a column that would make my editors turn blue … err … umm … was to do a psychological experiment. We wanted (there are 12 of us) to borrow five tapes and watch the “best” scenes. Butthead meet Susan Faludi.

But none of you would admit to owning the tapes. We asked every person we knew, from the proverbial choir boys to the Spizzwinks. No one would lend us a tape. We had one – we needed more. “Savage Nights” from Film Fest wouldn’t cut it. We wanted to know what the fuse was about. We wanted IT. The real thing. XXX porn, not Emmanuelle II” in the SGA movie theatre, with a bunch of freshman whose heavy breathing would keep us from laughing.

I know you have these tapes, freshman year I┬áhustled out of a common room with a blush. Sophomore year a prospective friend called me back, “Sorry I cut you off. I didn’t want to say so, but we were watching a porno.” OK, I was offered a second tape on the grounds that over spring break, I repeat the acts depicted with its owner. All in all, I didn’t think a 700 word column was worth having sex with a blonde.

If asked, no one at USM ever has sex: “No, really, we don’t,” we swear. (For statistical purposes, members of a fraternity and the varsity teams have been omitted). I simply know this isn’t true. For one thing, an ex-roommate of a friend of mine used to make noises that could be heard by the whole wing in Bond Hall. (You didn’t want to know that, did you? Well neither did I.) For another, someone takes hundreds of condoms from the clinic.

Non-oxynol-9 tastes too horrific for them to be blown up as balloons. Hypocrites. You are masturbating. You are making love. At the very least you wish you were doing these things. USM celebrates freedom of sexuality at GLBSO, yet we do not allow ourselves to exercise this freedom. A friend of mine isn’t embarrassed to admit she had sex at the Cook Library Computer Lab. But people see her as shocking and titillating for admitting her “vice” (and how many other people’s fantasy?), not simply as open and self-aware.

I walk the stacks in Cook with caution because I know that someone’s stealing all the sex books off the shelves, and I don’t want to stumble upon the culprit, especially if the culprit’s using the books. Imagine how much less spooky the stacks would be if people simply checked these books out – no Lurch-like heavy breathing echoing down the narrow new aisles.

Admit your perversity’s. Stop acting so shocked when the person next door hangs a Victoria’s Secret purple lace thong teddy on a drying rack. Do you honestly think those satin ropes are for tying back dorm-issue curtains? Admit you read http://www.playboy.com. There is no way that all those pairs of handcuffs were only bought and used for Halloween costumes.

USM is not your mother, the dean really doesn’t care what you do, just as long as you don’t do it in the showers of the Payne Center. You will never be comfortable with your sexuality until you admit that you have a libido and that sex is like chocolate – something much better when savored than snuck on the side.

So loosen up people: This is not Sweet Valley High. And lend me and my friends “Debbie Does Dallas,” “Linda Licks Lisa” and “Bob Boinks Bill.” We need something to do instead of our term papers.