“The sense of security more frequently springs from habit than from conviction, and for this reason it often subsists after such a change in the conditions as might have been expected to suggest alarm.”
George Eliot, “Silas Marner”
Mary Anne Evans, who adopted the pen name George Eliot because, she said, she wanted her novels to be taken seriously. In her novel Silas is a profoundly disillusioned recluse until an abandoned girl brightens his life.
He was the best administrator I’ve known (save for the peerless Lloyd Rowe) and also the most unconventional. He hated meetings, especially when nothing consequential was being discussed, and frequently walked out of them, sometimes closing the door hard enough to convey his disgust. He was known to raise his voice when emphasizing a point and at times alienated adversaries, but he got things done. IUN’s art gallery, for example, owes its existence to him. Induced to run the Division of Education after a dean’s retirement, he asked me to teach a Methods course to History majors after the professor suddenly resigned a week before classes started. I demanded an extra $3,000 in order to bring in a dozen successful area teachers, many my former students, and he came up with the money. He hailed from New Mexico and returned there yearly. Everyone expected him to move back “home” when he retired, but he had fallen in love with Miller Beach, the mostly liberal, racially diverse, gay friendly Gary district by the southern shore of Lake Michigan. He bought a town house, had his coffee daily at Marquette Perk, stayed active in Rotary, jogged along the beach, and was in my bridge club. His partner was IUN’s Dean of Student Affairs, whose husband didn’t like cards. He would host, and she would bring dinner or desert. In his bathroom was a jacuzzi with men’s muscle magazines nearby, in plain view, bless him. One day he decided to sell his car and put a sign on it. A man pretended that he wanted to buy it and bludgeoned my friend when he refused to let the guy drive off before making sure the check cleared. At a memorial service someone from Chicago showed up and claimed to have been my friend’s lover for several years. Some in attendance were angry, but I was happy that he had evidently found a soul mate in his life during a time when he was lonely and needed one.
In “Gary’s First Hundred Years” I wrote about my friend’s murder, which occurred on July 17, 2002, near Marquette Park and not far from Mayor Scott King’s residence. Lamar Ricketts, the 32 year-old intruder, casually drove off with the car he had wanted. Neighbors had heard a disturbance and called police, but they did not venture inside the town house while my friend was bleeding to death. Former student Todd Clibourne, at the time on the Gary police force, helped apprehend Ricketts. On the day after the attack, I wrote, “Corporal Clibourne was en route to a funeral detail in Merrillville when a dispatcher described the stolen vehicle. Outside the church, he spotted a car matching the description and took off in pursuit. Clibourne recalled: ‘The suspect pulled right over. He was coming back from Taco Bell, where he had put in an application for employment. Here he’d murdered someone in cold blood and then didn’t resist.’” Ricketts would be 44 years old now; wonder if he is sorry for what he did.
Exactly 50 years ago Winston Moseley sexually assaulted and stabbed bar manager Kitty Genovese to death near her home in the New York City borough of Queens. According to newspaper reports, a total of 37 people heard her scream but did not come to her aid. The crime received much publicity as a supposed example of the callousness of urban life and became famous as an example of what psychologists called bystander syndrome or diffusion of responsibility. Recent research has revealed that when Kitty screamed for help, a neighbor yelled, “Let that girl alone.” Moseley fled only to return after Genovese had crawled to an area out of view from residents. He then raped her and stabbed her again, this time fatally. One neighbor allegedly told a neighbor he didn’t want to get involved although he persuaded a friend to call police. There was no 911 line then, something that grew out of this case, as did the Neighborhood Watch idea.
Most faculty who sympathize with Anne Balay’s being denied tenure have chosen not to get involved in the case, rationalizing that she’ll land on her feet, given her sterling credentials and path-breaking book “Steel Closets.” Being officially retired, I have less to lose than them, but it still is disillusioning to see her colleagues in Women and Gender Studies so silent, given her value to the campus and the damage her ouster will do to IU and IUN’s reputation.