Thursday, October 7, 2010

Uh-oh Pt. 3

Not much new to report. My director has conveyed my message to the powers that be: that I do not intend to move and that I have a Duke parking permit. I sent her pictures of the van and maps depicting where I'm parked.

It's an awfully strange way to communicate with somebody: having to send messages through a network of directors, deans, lawyers, and an apartment owner. I suppose that's partly why I was taken aback when I got that first email in which I was asked to move out of my lot. I felt like I was being spoken to, not by real people, but by a gaggle of bureaucrats.

Why didn't I get an email straight from the owner? Or why didn't anyone attempt to talk with me in person? College, of course, is a business, and Duke is no exception. You'd like to think the university you go to would treat you differently than a corporation would, but it would be naive of me to think that a billion-dollar institution would handle things in a folksy face-to-face manner.

My lot issue won't be a problem this weekend, anyway, since I'll be driving the van over to David's tomorrow for some pumpkin pie en route to the Appalachian Trail for another four-day hike. (It's my fall break.) I'll update when I can. Happy weekend.

11 comments:

-Heidi said...

I was wondering how you'd handle it... I'm glad to see you took a stand against this form of bigotry and discrimination. Our vandweller dollars spend the same as everyone else's.

-Heidi said...

Oh, and on the matter of "bad press", I just can't help but post this to all of my groups/blogs. I applaud your choice to "not take that seat at the back of the bus".

Ken said...

Oh Heidi. The vandweller's association (if there was one) ought to confer to you some honorary title. I think you, more than anyone, are making great and helpful strides for the vandwelling community at large. Thanks.

Anna said...

Just happened across your blog tonight and read back a little ways. I enjoy your thoughtfulness and insight. Good luck with your living situation.

Seth Miller said...

Sorry I haven't had a chance to comment on your situation yet. I have been traveling for work recently and don't have your blog bookmarked on my work computer.
As someone who works for a university your comments are spot on about their behavior. Most of the time a university will try to react in a way that has the least amount of impact and cause the least confrontation instead of using the situation as an educational moment.
I do hope you get the chance to sit down with some of the administrators involved so you can talk with them about how the reasonable solution would be to get everyone in the same room to talk because more than likely the uncomfortableness (probably not a real word but you get the idea) of the other student can be solved that easily.
The question I would ask the university (and it would be very important not to be snide) is how they would handle a situation where someone in those apartments felt uncomfortable with a neighbor, or even someone who walks through the parking lot.

Kevin M said...

Good luck Ken. I just caught up on the story today. It is sad the apartment owner couldn't come talk to you directly and instead decided to lawyer up. I'd like to think that's not a statement on life in the USA in 2010, but I'm not naive.

Kirk A said...

Hello. I've been following your blog for a few months now and I felt the need to comment on this issue. Hats off for not being intimidated. It was sure rude of them not to try and resolve things in a civil manner. Maybe they should let the complainant try vandwelling for a change. I hope that this ends well for you. You have my support!

Mike Troy said...

Perfect timing for a mental clarity AT outing. Kill 'em with kindness and hold your ground when you get back. I'm sure many of us would be willing to write letters of support to the powers that be. (Just to let them know you're not alone) Give the word and a contact and I'm in...

Ken said...

Anna—thanks!

Seth—No worries. Thanks for the insights. I’d be more than happy to sit down with anybody.

Kevin M—indeed. Funny how things are moving so far from the age-old face-to-face, with online social networks, lawyers and all.

Kirk A—I don’t know if I’d call their actions uncivil. Certainly there was no name calling or slashed tires. It was civil, just not what you’d hope for. Thanks for the support.

Mike—that’s an awfully kind offer. I’ll let you know if I need help.

Kirk A said...

I guess I just miss the times where people who had grievances actually tried to settle them face-to-face as the first course of action, instead of flinging correspondence and lawyering up (ugh, bureaucracy). Then again, lawyers in our country are more of a luxury.

Terry said...

Ken,

I also just came across your blog and I feel badly for you and this whole situation :/ I do understand, as someone else commented, that people can be suspicious of a van parked in front of their building, but this is just being handled poorly; you have paid for the space and you have a right to it. I will also write a letter to the administration for you if that will help... Good luck!

Terry