Monday, August 16, 2010

A more complete accounting begins

Now that I am safely removed (physically anyway) from the beginnings of my Ph.D. education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I thought it would be prudent to describe it and the lawsuits emanating therefrom.

As I discussed before, I came to Louisiana because they posted a scholarship opportunity: four years of paid tuition and a stipend for earning a Ph.D. I applied and in that application explained to the then-department Chair, a thoroughly indolent Welshman, that I needed accommodations because of a documented learning disability.

Shortly thereafter, I was accepted and granted a scholarship. The first issue which arose is where I would stay. I was coming over from Hungary (with a brief stay-over in New York City) and being on uncertain financial footing and not knowing a soul there I expressed- repeatedly- that I will need housing. (Whether this is something that needs to be stressed or whether a reasonably intelligent person can gather that if coming from 2000 miles away, you may need housing, is something we can totally discuss.)

Now Louisiana being the south and having, shall we say,certain social customs (from the link: "Louisiana is the 10th most segregated state for African Americans, with 42.3% of Black students in extremely segregated schools (those with a 90-100% minority student body"), I was unsurprised when they paired me with Mitch, the only other New York Jew in the program. (Heather was suspiciously nasal but I think she was from the Midwest.) An extremely literal fellow, Mitch stated that I could stay "a couple of days" while looking for housing and going to classes.

Somewhere on day 4 or so, Mitch stated that he wanted me out of there because a couple means two and wouldn't you know I was past my expiration date. Now, prior to my arrival, Mitch had penned a magnanimous note to the entire faculty that he would accept me as his houseguest. Like many generous souls, Mitch found that pontificating about generosity was a lot easier than practicing it. He unceremoniously dumped me on campus one day, stating that he volunteered to let me stay but was now "unvolunteering."

Needless to say, this pleased me to no end. Already displeased by the fact that I just traveled 5000 miles over the course of the prior week, I wrote the following to the faculty:

"Dear All,

As a piggyback to this email- as you may know, I have been staying with Mitch who has volunteered for it while I try to find a place. However, this afternoon Mitch has informed me that he is "unvolunteering" and would want me to find a new place starting tomorrow (Friday). If any of you are in a position to grant this request, please shoot me an email or call _______. Please do so only if you are genuinely capable of and interested in helping me so as to avoid such situations in the future. I am, by sheer luck, well set funding wise so can certainly pay. A permanent place- one that can last a semester without any such last minute surprises- is much preferred. If you do not wish to assist please do not feel pressured to act otherwise.

Thanks bunches

P.S: Do to a phone reception that can only be described in tragic terms, please do not be surprised if I do not pick up and just leave me a voicemail."

I did this for three reasons: first, being dumped on campus with much of my worldly possessions displeased me to no end. Second, if Mitch was going to get brownie points for being such a kind soul, he should earn them. And finally, as I noted before, it wasn't as if my arrival in Louisiana was a surprise. I did not simply land on their front steps like a lice-ridden urchin and plead for a warm cot and a ration of bread.

While not the most courteous writing of my life, it was miles better than my initial impulse which was along the lines of "fuck you you fucking assholes get me a fucking place to live right this instant motherfuckers!" This was especially so since, in dumping me on campus, Mitch explained that he was having personal issues and has no interest in my welfare. I should add that I offered to pay him so that his generosity would have earthly rewards.

Now, one might think that having accepted me and gotten money from the government to host me, the University would have some concerns for my welfare. Okay, that's a lie. America, becoming more sociopathic by the day, seems proud in its lack of concern for people. Jack Da, a professor mentioned here previously, nevertheless reached out to me.

I am going to give you a bit of free advice. You don't arrive at a new
place and take advantage of someone's hospitality and then "dis" them to
everyone else in the program. I don't know you are from son, but it is

A couple of things there hoss: 1) I ain't your son. If I am, you owe child support big time. Call me Mr. _____. 2) A pretense of concern would've been nice. "Where are you staying?" "Do you have cooties?" "I know a park bench." That kind of thing. 3) I did not "take advantage" of Mitch any more than I took advantage of the pizza I paid for. Mitch, rather publicly, offered his services so that he could accrue brownie points. Having done so, he needed to buck up and do what he promised. 4) It's none of your fucking business where I'm from you degenerate Republican.

With much self restraint, I did not voice these thoughts. Nevertheless, the fun didn't stop there.