Of Endings and New Beginnings…


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The last few days have been days of endings and new beginnings and there’s nothing more exciting than that.

As I told you in my post last week, I decided to leave my abuse & conflict work for Nextdoor because I have two major clients right now and the Miller project, so the conflict work got in the way. I decided for a clean break and went into the city today, to return my laptop, say goodbye and get the hell out of there.

I won’t miss Civic Plaza in San Francisco either: It’s the home of the dispossessed and disenchanted — this weekend, I read that there are 61 billionaires in the San Francisco Bay Area, yet 14% of the city’s children is hungry on a daily basis. You’ve heard that right: This is not Rio de Janeiro but San Francisco…

We should all be ashamed of ourselves, and yes, after Donnie goes to prison (the orange make-up will look smashing with that orange jump suit), I want him and his cronies to live under the bridges in this country so that they can get a taste of their own medicine. Bernie was spot on. We are not America anymore, we are a country where the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer. It’s doubtful that I will ever hit the jackpot, but if I do, I will give my time and money to combat poverty and hunger in this country. We can and should do better.

Another ending: I finished the first draft of my campus novel and murder mystery which deals with academic patriarchy, plagiarism, sexual harassment and abuse on our college campuses. I witnessed this up close and personal for several years and I had to get it out of my system.

But aside from this being a roman à clef, this is also a murder mystery, and now that I know who the murderer is, I need to go back and rewrite some bits and pieces. I think it was EL Doctorow who said that writing is “like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Of course the murder is made up but the plagiarism was real. The person I worked with received tenure, but copied several passages from Wikipedia (!) in a book he got tenure with. Here’s an example.

This is Wikipedia:

The two letters were preceded by a foreword with a biography of the artist and followed by a third letter, both written by David Koning to camouflage the true contents. The revenues from the publication were used to provide assistance to Jews in hiding

And this was in the book that led to tenure (no quotation marks, because imagine our college elite quoting from Wikipedia!):

Two of her letters [were] preceded by a foreword with a biography of the artist and followed by a third letter, both written by David Koning, to camouflage its true contents. The revenues from the publication were used to provide assistance to Jews in hiding. 

After I had left my job to work in high tech, I looked into the plagiarism claim as a student and fellow lecturer had hinted at it, and once I looked closer at the book, I was shocked.

I wrote a report of 12 pages on several stolen and verbatim passages (from Wikipedia, other scholars etc) and sent it anonymously to the Privilege & Tenure Committee. Several members of the committee got the same letter, and as far as I know, NOTHING was done with it.

You wonder why.

Because my letter was anonymous? Because it hit too close to home? Because the University had not done its own due diligence in doling out tenure? Or was it because said professor already received tenure and people with tenure are above the law? I mean their behavior has to be pretty, pretty bad. But apparently, plagiarism doesn’t qualify as such.

Now, if grad students or undergraduates had engaged in that kind of sloppy plagiarism, they would have ruined their academic career or, in the case of undergraduates, have failed the class. So this is serious stuff and when a University doesn’t want to open its eyes to this kind of academic deceit, the University itself is part of the problem.

So when my letter went nowhere, I had to cleanse. I didn’t want to see a shrink or go on a peyote binge, so writing was liberating. And… as the saying goes: If life gives you lemons, you might as well make lemonade.

Interestingly, as I was writing this book, a bunch of sexual harassments scandals at Cal broke, the Chancellor resigned because he had mishandled sexual harassment on campus, and now I feel sort of vindicated, plus I hope that there will be a market for my tell-all book. Of course, I use pseudonyms and disguise many of the characters, so no one should feel offended, except for the perpetrator(s) maybe, yet these guys tend to be such narcissists and sociopaths that they would never even recognize themselves. Funny how this story is eerily familiar, i.e. the University is a perfect microcosm of the country we live in right now.

I look forward to moving on and finding a publisher, so if you know of anyone, let me know.

 

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