Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is there an issue?

Elizabeth Foley writes about the woman who fell to her death from the Tenth Street Garage last week, and points out that none of her professors mentioned it in class.

Which made me feel a little embarassed, to be honest. I thought this comment deserved some personal examination. Here's what I think:

Had I heard about it? Yes, but really all I knew about it was the headline; the simple fact that it had happened. I didn't know the woman's name, or whether she had any connection to SJSU. I have to admit I didn't actually read any of the news stories about it. Was it reported in the Mercury News as well as the Spartan Daily? I got the impression, though, from what I heard, that they weren't sure whether it was an accident or a suicide. In other words, there were very few facts to report, other than the fact that the woman was dead.

So, cold though this may sound, to be honest I didn't have enough information to care. Sure, it's tragic, but people die every day. Sure, it's scary that it happened so close to us, but I think what really makes it scary is what we don't know. Was she murdered? Was there some negligence involved, that caused her to fall accidentally? If so, then we might be scared because if it happened to her, it could happen to us.

Remember last week we discussed what makes an issue an issue? Well, it seems to me there's no issue here. If the garage has shoddy lighting, allowing murderers to lurk in the corners and attack unsuspecting women, then there's an issue that deserves discussion, argument, even lobbying for change. If there was, say, an unsafe or unmarked construction area, and the woman tripped and fell over the side, again, there's an issue. If the woman was mentally disturbed and committed suicide due to a lack of community support facilities that might have prevented it, again, there's an issue.

But it seems to me — and again, I admit I don't know all the details, so I could be wrong about this — that there is no issue here, and that that's why people aren't discussing it.

What do you think?


Elizabeth Foley said...

iI completely understand what you mean by saying that there was no specific issue about it. I'm sorry if I embarassed you. I did not mean to direct it at you personally. I just felt like it was a little strange that a headline like that shows up on the Spartan Daily and I didn't hear one comment...even from the students surrounding me. I just wonder if there were any students that saw it happen. That would be a traumatizing thing to see. I felt a little better when I read the article in the Spartan on Friday. The article touched upon the issue of suicide, referring to the death on Wednesday. She gave some support options to people who may be considering something like this. Again, I really didn't mean to make anyone feel guilty for not mentioning it. :-)

Lilly Buchwitz said...

Elizabeth, please don't feel guilty for making me feel guilty. I mean that sincerely. You made an excellent point in your blog post, and it affected me enough that I felt compelled to blog about it too.

Between the two of us (and whoever else might join in) we are illustrating a very important aspect of blogging: it's a conversation.