etween getting ready for Midterms, administering them, taking time out to enjoy the company of Jennifer and Gordon while they were honeymooning in New Orleans, and then taking a lot
of time out to go up to Chicagoland and see my family over my Fall Break, instead of grading – well, I just have hardly even had time to look at my journal, much less write in it, or to read what's going on with anyone else.
I'll get to that before too long, but I just came online to discover that a freshman girl who had disappeared on the 14th in DeKalb is now presumed dead after the discovery of a body in Prairie Park, south of NIU's campus. I look at all my students, and one of the very best things about being a professor is being around the energy of so many people who are just beginning to design and make their way through the wonders of life. To see someone lose all that potential, especially when death isn't due to accident or biology, but because someone robbed them of all of their future possibilities – there's nothing more offensive or obscene.
We try to make a safe place at a university for people to engage in that kind of life-exploration, and to have now what looks like a second desecration of the NIU community's safety or integrity (after the Valentine's Day murders in Cole Hall two years ago) just makes me ache for all the students at the university. Antinette Keller deserved to have the confidence that she had, to take her camera and art supplies to Prairie Park, and to work on her art in safety and peace, and to not have that space become a space of fear for her. That was a favourite space in my own college memories, thinking back to long walks there with Jenny in an afternoon rain, or after dark, even, and with David, all of us just trying to figure out our own lives. And yet even old memories of people unconnected to what's going on now can get wounded by such violence. This poor girl's tragedy is going to be everyone's tragedy at that school, now, whether they knew her or not, and that is the final desecration, because anyone deserves to be remembered for so much more – for anything but – something like this happening to them. And the chance to experience that place or time of safety – even if it is partially an illusion, or at least a fragile and contingent reality – is lost.