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PostMankato, Minnesota in the George Floyd Era (Enrique Torner, USA, 09/13/20 6:09 am)
Our dear editor John Eipper asked me what the mood is in Mankato, Minnesota, regarding the George Floyd controversy,
Mankato is one and a half hours from the Twin Cities. The day of that famous event when the Twin Cities were rioted and destroyed by the protesting masses, some of the protesters decided to drive down to Mankato to stir up the people down here. I did not actually see the mass of people demonstrating on the streets, but my family and I followed their movement as they walked from the downtown area to the eastern edge of town using a radio app one of our daughters was able to access. We could hear what the police were saying as they were communicating among themselves, and we could know their location as they were moving. They were able to get as close as two blocks away from our home and be loud enough to be heard. The police barricaded the entrance to the streets that were perpendicular to the main avenue they were walking on, so they could not enter the residential areas. The protestors ended up at our town main mall, where they destroyed the Target entrance. Along the way, they also broke into a cell phone store, where they did some looting. Those were some scary moments.
After a few days of pretty heavy public demonstrations, they died down. However, the effect of this whole Floyd "movement" has affected the academic community. All the colleges have had to come up with a written statement denouncing police brutality and in defense of racial tolerance. University professors have been asked to incorporate statements and activities into their curricula that help promote racial understanding and cooperation, among other things.
Our university, in the last decade or so, led by our university president, has been very active recruiting international students and students of color from the Twin Cities, leading to a more diverse community. This has brought good and bad to our community: yes, you can tell our population is much more diverse than it was years ago; but, unfortunately, burglaries, crime, and drugs have also increased. Mankato is not as safe as it used to be.
Just a few days ago, as one of my daughters and I were driving on the street, we saw an African American man walking on the street with a sign and screaming something. I did not see it, but my daughter, looking at her rearview mirror, was able to see how he had placed himself in front of a car and was banging the hood as he was shouting something. It is still very common to see people standing on the streets carrying signs regarding the Floyd/police confrontation. So, to answer John's question, this whole Floyd movement is not only a Minneapolis/St. Paul movement: it has spread out and affected the whole state quite meaningfully.
On the side, one of our Minnesota State University campuses, Winona State, just quarantined itself for two weeks because of an alarming increase in Coronavirus cases. We have been seeing an increase as well, and, just last week, the MN Health Department offered free COVID-19 tests to all students and employees for two days so we can have a better assessment to our health status and make the appropriate decision. On the other hand, it doesn't help that students, once they leave the buildings, don't follow the guidelines and gather together for fun without masks or the appropriate distance. It wouldn't surprise me if our university has to go fully online way before Thanksgiving, after which it has already been decided that everybody will have to go fully online. So I'm glad I decided to stay home and teach online already at the beginning of the summer.
JE comments: Enrique, I may have told you this off-Forum, but Adrian College transitioned to totally on-line instruction at least until September 21st. My fortnight in the real classroom after August 24th was the shortest semester ever! Last Wednesday was the first time in 30+ years I taught all day in shorts, barefoot, and from my couch. At AC we're doing "synchronous" instruction, which means I gather everybody together virtually at regular class time. So far, student attendance has been fairly strong. There is one enormous challenge for classes larger than 10 people: you cannot see the students on the screen, so teaching is rather like the experience of a radio DJ. It's disorienting for those unaccustomed. (With smaller groups it's technically feasible to leave everyone's camera on.)
Ah, to return to the good ol' days of CLASS: