Thursday, February 3, 2011
News from home: Stormy Weather
The snowstorm in the northeast produced closings and delays and much discussion on the faculty and staff list serve at my home university; apparently the university administration made the call to delay the opening of campus yesterday (Feb 2) a little late for some people who had checked the web page early in the morning and seeing no closing or delayed opening announced, had set off on their lengthy commutes or to drop children or spouses at school or work. It was amusing, in a perverse way, to read the commentaries -- but also shed a light on some of the "taken for granted" aspects of our life. Here in Guatemala, I don't think anyone would expect that, if there were a weather catastrophe (earthquake, heavy rainstorm, flood) that their workplace would provide advance notice of closings. So while I empathize with my colleagues -- especially those in "staff" and not faculty positions, who could be docked a day's pay if they failed to show up (faculty in full-time positions have a fair amount of leeway in canceling the occasional class with NO adverse consequences) -- the discussion seems light-years away from what is on people's mind's here. Yesterday's news stories noted that 10 women had been murdered in the month of January solely in the capital city -- I believe the highest one-month femicide rate. This is notable not only for the sheer volume but the brutality of many of the crimes. Meanwhile municipal governments, at least according to local residents, squander funds with no accountability; bus drivers and their assistants are victimized by extortions and murders. So critiquing faulty notification systems for dealing with work closures caused by inclement weather seems like a distant luxury.