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Shock and Awe (from Univ. on Watch: REMASTERED edition)

Shock and Awe (from Univ. on Watch: REMASTERED edition)

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The next step in contesting admission seemed obvious to me: pummel the English department into submission using “shock and awe.” The plan was simple: bombard the department with paperwork. Inundate them with busywork until everyone in the department collapsed from sheer exhaustion. I would achieve this with course petition slips, grievances, long rambling emails, handwritten notes, and anything else I could find that drew on the department’s energy.

The faculty’s energy was being depleted daily, if not by the normal events of the semester, then from my doing. But what exactly was I doing? The disconnect between what I thought I was doing and what was actually happening widened by the day, and by semester’s end I envisioned a new reality that was apparent to me alone. Now that I understood the department wanted nothing to do with me, I would create a new language (meta-power) to alter the admission decision. If I couldn’t have a language, then I would destroy it.

“What did you do this time, Jacques?” students asked as they passed me in the corridor. I was almost certain they knew what I was doing because I had been clear from the beginning of the campaign about my intentions. I would simply respond, “Oh, you know, dropping bombs!” Later, as my condition worsened, I simply said, “Poufff!” and gestured with my hands to indicate a bomb exploding. But these students had no idea what I was talking about. They had no idea whatsoever.

Every day, I ramped up the bombardment. More notes! More emails! More everything! Finally, my health worsened to the point that my notes and emails were completely indecipherable and unreadable. By then the semester was almost over, and it seemed to me that I had won. The professors’ offices were closed and locked. The department was operating with a skeleton crew, apparent by the dwindling number of staff. But the absence of people was due to the impending summer break, not the metaphorical bombs.

About the Author

J. Peters

Bold 10 Under 10 award recipient Jacques Peters ’08, MSW ’12 . Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), therapist and disability rights advocate, Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various systems of care, such as the New York City Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health or the city’s Department of Corrections. Jacques is the author of University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy, which he published under the pen name J. Peters in 2019, and First Diagnosis, published in 2020. Jacques refers to his stance on recovery in his journal articles as “Too big to fail.” No obstacle too big, no feat out of reach, Jacques let nothing stop him in his path to recovery and healing.
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