The University of Chicago, where we lived and worked for four years, is in the midst of a tragedy, where a 29-year-old graduate student, Amadou Cisse, was shot near campus last week. He was in the “dodgy” area south of the midway, where there are some student apartments, and two young men, 16 and 17 years old, have been arrested and also tied to other violent crimes in the area. Lots of details can be found on the University news page.
This is a terrible thing, obviously, but I’m finding the University reaction to be too much too late. I’m still on many email lists there as I’m doing long-distance consulting work, and I’ve gotten at least one message per day relating to the incident and boosting campus safety in the wake.
As tragic as this particular case is, to be honest the only notable thing about it in the context of the neighborhood is that a student was the victim, instead of an anonymous member of the community. There is at least one shooting death every couple of weeks there, but it’s never been a student before.
So what does the relative hoopla surrounding the death of Amadou Cisse say about the value that the University places on the lives of “ordinary” people right in their own backyard? Is a murder only tragic if it robs the world of a potential brilliant scholar? Where was all of the extra police protection and new substations when it was just the “neighborhood hoodlums” involved?
This makes me kind of sick, really. And angry. And yet, selfishly relieved that we don’t live there any more.