Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Taxi Amman

If you don't have your own car in Jordan, you're probably going to be riding a taxi. Public transportation in Amman here is limited and somewhat unscheduled, while privately operated buses tend to operate only on the most profitable routes. Biking and walking are rather dangerous due to a general lack of sidewalks and a Jordanian tendency to park on sidewalks that are available. Taxis, on the other hand, are literally everywhere. Unless you're on a side street or an an alley, there will be an empty taxi available within a few minutes. The exception is on Thursday during the evening rush hour. I've gone almost an hour without finding a taxi. The exception is on Thursday during the evening rush hour (basically the start of the Jordanian weekend). I've gone almost an hour without finding a taxi.

If you wanted to call a taxi to pick you up at a specific place, your only option is Moumayaz Taxi. Moumayaz is slightly more expensive than other taxis, but are the only company that takes fares by phone. They can be visually differentiated from all other taxis because they are silver rather than yellow. I've never had a reason to take a Moumayaz Taxi, because it's always been extremely easy for me to flag down a yellow cab instead.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fifteen forcible sexual offences at Macalester in the last three years

Every year, Macalester is required by federal law to release a report detailing campus safety and various safety/security policies. This includes statistics on reported crimes against students, and where they occurred. This is typically distributed at Mac via email by Terry Gorman in the form of a long PDF. I decided to read this report, to save you the trouble of sifting through it.

Overall, Macalester is a pretty safe campus. Over the last three years: zero homicides, one robbery, one aggravated assault, one stolen car, and a handful of burglaries in the dorms (lock your doors, people). Unsurprisingly, each year there are several hundred write ups relating to illegal drug and alcohol use, although few are referred to the St. Paul Police.

The most disturbing fact in the report is the number of sex offences. Macalester has had fifteen forcible sex offences over the last three years, including six last year. The report doesn't distinguish between types of sex crimes, so they could be anything from fondling to rape. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that any amount of sexual assault on campus should be considered unacceptable. It's worth noting that this report only includes crimes reported to security - and according to RAINN, only about half of all sexual assaults are ever reported.

Very little about any of these incidents is every publicized for obvious reasons, including their eventual outcomes. But I was reminded once again of Anna Binkovitz' article last year in the Mac Weekly. Her rapist was allowed to stay at Mac, graduate and collect his degree:
I will also be tied to what I see as a pattern of survivors of sexual assault who are forced to watch their school choose to protect the future of criminals over their own safety...
I want my Macalester degree to be associated with the amazing people I see everyday, but when we allow predators to graduate without having to learn from their mistakes, we are ensuring that our school’s reputation will be determined by their future actions.
And I think that pretty much says it all. I don't normally try to plug my own blog beyond posting new stuff to my personal Facebook, but please consider sharing this with your Mac friends on Facebook or Twitter using the buttons at the bottom. The more attention this gets, the more likely something will get done about it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Republic, if we can keep it.

This week, Sagebrush Scot is happy to have Jeff Garcia guest-blogging. This article is primarily a response to last week's editorial by Sam Doten in the Mac Weekly.

In Spring 2013, an embattled administration dealt with a discrimination lawsuit, a controversial student campaign, and the resulting probations. We have now, of course, come back into fresh controversy, and new accusations toward our institution. The conversation about Macalester marks a resurgence of radicalism on campus: the affected groups see administrators as unfeeling elitists that muffle “undesirable” voices -- a serious and unfounded charge.

The media around this reeks of conspiracy. Last week, one writer made a call for “true democracy” as the solution to a supposed purge of activists from leadership, going so far as to include words like “subversives” and “undesirables” in discussions on probations. Problematic language aside, the assumption is that if the administration is kept out of student affairs, the campus will run as a direct democracy, where students will be fired into activists, and rally to chastise the big, bad admins.