Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stuff You Don't Learn in College Orientation

When I attended Aurora University in the early 1990s, no one ever told me about the Aurora College killer. Granted, many years had passed since 1976, but on a small, quiet, tight-knit college campus one would expect the tale of such a brutal crime to take on legendary proportions. Then again, I was a commuter student; maybe the story was passed down late at night in the residence halls.

Upon reading the Sun-Times article, I was struck by a couple of things. First, I am surprised that a woman was working as a security guard there in 1976. Aurora College/University was fairly conservative. It originated as an Advent Christian seminary and didn't cut its religious ties until 1971. Perhaps women were allowed to work security just because the chances of any incident more exciting than a couple of drunk students trying to sneak in after curfew seemed remote. I wouldn't be surprised if this incident raised issues about whether women should be doing that job, especially on the overnight shift.

Second, the article says, "As a freshman at Aurora College, Briner had shaved his head and gotten an earring, but he didn’t fit in any better." This article must have been written by someone younger because I can assure you that any man who shaved his head and acquired an earring in 1976 was not trying to fit in. Even in the 1980s, earrings on men were still pretty rare and often associated with homosexuality. In 1990 one of my co-workers showed up with an earring one day, and the boss told him to take it out or go home. And as I mentioned above, Aurora College was pretty conservative so a shaved head and an earring would be decidedly non-conformist.

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