For example, when I was at the University of Connecticut, I decided to major in their landscape architecture program. I figured it would be difficult and a real challenge for myself, but I had a background in landscaping, and hoped that would serve me while there to some extent. There was a competition to get in lasting the first semester of sophomore year, and we were to collect our best work from that semester, and compile it into a portfolio to be submitted for scrutiny by the four professors that would be making the ultimate decision.
I worked like crazy to try and get my work in on time, and hopefully in some form of readiness to be judged alongside and against the work of my peers.
During freshman year and most of that semester, I put in everything I had, with all my focus on one thing – getting into the program. Getting my degree and having a career as a landscape architect was all I wanted.
I didn't know how it would turn out, and really, didn't even think about it. The goal at that moment was to get the degree. My plan was to begin thinking about my career once I had some experience with internships, which I was told most landscape architecture graduates undertook during the break between junior and senior year. The purpose of them was to get some idea of what the field was like and how they might wish to aim in terms of submitting resume's to firms senior year.
Soon, however I began realizing there would be another thing to focus on, besides the work, my finances and my girlfriend. That thing was harassment. I never could have imagined that would have happened, certainly not to the extent to which it did, but it occurred nonetheless. It was directed at myself and based upon my race plus something that I was involved in thirteen years earlier, while I was a senior in high school. It was a protest against Apartheid that had gone violent, and I was a minor, bit player in it.
One of my professors found out, and it went from high school protest against a late 80's hot button issue, to suddenly my being some type of Muslim extremist Al Qaeda terrorist. He began dropping hints about his feelings that first semester sophomore year, and I really wondered whether I would get in at all. Yet, somehow I did, and I figured I'd have to deal with a bad attitude from him when I was in one of his classes, and perhaps grades more reflective of the way he felt about me personally, than what the projects I submitted were actually worth.
I could handle a little of that if I had to. I had dealt with similar stuff before, but that's life and I always managed somehow, and had developed ways to cope and keep moving regardless.
What I never imagined was how bad the harassment would be. I never could have predicted that. I never thought that professor would then recruit a few classmates of mine to help him with his efforts. I never foresaw more than that one professor getting involved. I never predicted that actual assignments would be rigged so that I would be guaranteed not to do as well as others.
Examples of this were creating an assignment where we were split off into teams for a research project and my team was not given the correct deadline, thus we were forced to submit it partially finished. No way to get a complete grade. Another example would be the professors giving some of the requirements for an assignment that was due to certain students that were his “recruits” with express instructions for them to find a way not to give me all the things on the list or none. That way I was assured to get only a partial grade.
It even got physical on more than one occasion, and the people involved were sure I would not graduate on time, or at all. That was their goal, to create an environment stressful enough to get me to quit as a result of the stress, to flunk out as a result of the stress or to overreact and do something that would justify their kicking me out of the program for good. They were extremely confident they would prevail.
However, I did something I never thought I would, and that was to watch what they did to harass me, in terms of the strategies they used and tactics, and then develop counter strategies and tactics. The people harassing me also had not expected this. This became apparent, as once they realized they had missed badly, and it was because of a counter move I made they never saw coming, the expressions they had ranged from white as a ghost to bluish purple in embarrassment, plus confusion.
They had the numbers and the power of certain professors behind them, yet with each trap set I began to evade them more frequently and with greater ease. I even successfully developed certain traps for them, they eventually stepped into.
At times it was like watching a political commercial meant to poke fun at a certain individual, aired after that individual the commercial was meant to discredit had effectively countered ahead of time. Oh well, I guess they put the time, money and resources into it, might as well air it! Lol! That is of course, unless they didn't even realize it had happened when they aired it!! LOL!!!!
Either way, what they also never saw coming was that they could become a victim of their own traps as much as they could victimize others with them. It didn't make what they were doing any less illegal or criminal, but it did prove their greater numbers and supposed abundance of resources just could not predict the best way to hit the mark. After all, I graduated from UConn, despite their efforts, and am here right now this morning of Saturday, January 5, 2013 writing and editing this article for submission this morning. I got that degree and am here now writing about it - never woulda guessed that either!
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.