Friday, October 15, 2010

A Stranger in a Strange Land

I am at a conference at Mount Holyoke, an all-women's school nestled in the hills and trees of western Massachusetts.  As I walked around yesterday during one of the short breaks, I was very aware of being a distinct minority on campus.  I rarely saw any other males while I was walking around.  I did see many more campus cop cars than I usually do on an average college campus, but could not tell if the cops were males or females.  But I did wonder why the patrols were so frequent.  My self-centered-ness made me think that they might have been eyeing me as I was an anomaly. 

The funny thing is that, despite the constant vigilance (Mad-Eye Moody's catchphrase, or, at least, his imitator's) potentially aimed against me, I feel more secure than normal.  I left my computer bag in the conference room when we went off to lunch rather than being paranoid about the possibility of theft.  Why I am so "chill" about computer security?
  • It might just be the idyllic quality that this beautiful small college generates a relaxed attitude about security. 
  • Or it might be an unconscious idea that women are not as acquisitive (thief-ish) as males.  
  • Or it might be that with my use of dropbox (, I don't really worry anymore since my data exists somewhere else.  But I love my new laptop, so its theft would be a drag. 
I don't know.  Too many explanations, not enough observations.  Classic social science challenge.

All I do know is that this is an incredibly beautiful campus: lakes, creeks, trees in full fall color, hills, nice buildings, huge campus for a small liberal arts college.  And the students are very smart.  A few of them joined us last night for the reception and dinner.  They asked sharp questions.  In sum, an impressive place, even with frequent police patrols. 

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