The Dorm Room Cannibal

While my students were busy crafting their horror stories, I wrote one of my own to read on presentation day.

The Dorm Room Cannibal

‘Missing: Russian man disappears from campus.’

Laura rarely ever talked, but her mind was an explosive minefield of thought. She focused her attention on not burdening her few friends with her curiosities for fear that they might leave her. While she had no desire to ‘fit in,’ she wanted to maintain at least one or two relationships to help get her through university. The young intellectual wasn’t too different from her peers; she enjoyed the odd gossip session and chatting about boys. However, her true passion in life was to study the absurdities that were present in the world. She spent countless nights on the internet researching strange topics that popped up in her browser. It was a miracle how her grades didn’t plummet with all her late night internet excursions. Her peculiarities were well shut up and manacled in her mind. People would fear her thoughts. She had to keep them a secret, but every day they seem to become progressively larger.

It was early morning when Laura pushed herself away from the keyboard. The corners of her eyes were crusted with gritty bits of dirt. She attempted to rub the sleep dust away, but it only made the maroon circles under her eyes stick out on her poltergeist-like skin. Her late night romp the night before had forced her to stay up all night to finish a major assignment. She gently massaged her temples and waited for her paper to finish running off the printer. Class was in half an hour and this paper needed to be pressed and stapled. Glancing over at the alarm clock on her radiator, she noted that her greasy locks would have to stay upright for the day. A toque easily solved that predicament.

Wandering the halls, the young woman noted the different people that were going about their days as they passed her. She made a game of guessing what each person was thinking about and always silently hoping that they did not do the same in return. Laura pictured their delicious thoughts; she reached up to brush a bit of thick saliva from her mouth. Her distractions wouldn’t keep her from handing in the paper she slaved over all night.

As she rounded the corner to the classroom building, a savoury scent wafted beneath her nose. She stopped her forward progress to class and allowed the new sensation to envelop her body. Her heart rhythm quickened as she grabbed for the wall to catch herself from falling. Forcing her fallen eyelids open she was met with the face of an angel. A young man with a toothy grin had come over to her.

“Are you alright?” he questioned. Laura’s mind was blurred and words wouldn’t escape her taut lips. “Can you stand?” he said. He extended a hand to her. She nodded her head and reached for his paw. Her legs wobbled when she leaned into him. That enchanting aroma had been emanating from him. She balled up her fist and forced her face away from his delicate neck. “Would you like me to help you home?” Laura drove her teeth in her lip, but still managed to sneak out a little grin.

With the help of the gentleman, Laura made her way back home. In his thick accent he muttered away, but she was so far lost in that cavern of her mind, that her body was just going through the motions. She was plotting. They arrived in front of her door, 526.

“Want to come in?” Laura let out in the meekest voice. She propped the door open with her toe and beckoned the man with her eyes and fox-like grin. Unable to step back into her body, her mind took over. Her fingers slid over a knife on the counter as the foreigner took in her dorm room. “Check my view,” she said. Fighting her mind, Laura tried to throw the knife back onto the counter. Her grip tightened.

While the man was busy glancing out the fifth floor kitchen window, Laura drove the knife deep into his back and cupped a soiled hand over his mouth. His screams were muffled and soon turned to gurgles of blood. He folded over and smashed her head against the window pane. Laura leaned in and ran her tongue along the side of his face. An unfamiliar salt taste grazed her taste buds. All of her inner turmoil ceased. Happily, she hoisted the dead weight up onto her kitchen table. Searching through her kitchen drawers, she found a carving knife, a gift from her Aunt Bev. The skin of her kill was not easily sliced.

Laura feasted for days on her find. The raw meat was fatty, but enough to quench her disturbing thoughts. Each morning she severed off a new limb and tasted the decaying flesh. Her curious mind was sedated with this new experience and found a calm new corner of her brain to chain itself to. It was enough to return her back to her normal net surfing routines.

The police searched for the young Russian man who mysteriously disappeared off campus one afternoon, but eventually gave up when they found no trace of him. The quiet are never suspected.

Remove Zero Tolerance and Give a Chance

The Skiba article addresses the idea that zero tolerance is a failed policy. While mainly talking about the USA, Skiba notes that schools need not get rid of strategies for dealing with unruly students, but need to find better tools. One tool that he brings up in the article is the conflict circle. I see this as very similar to sentencing circles that are used in the First Nation’s communities here in Canada. He also makes mention that schools who have gotten rid of the zero tolerance school have actually done better in an academic standing.

While many educators are on the side of zero tolerance, I have always been a very forgiving and accepting person. There is room to give students another chance at education, but with some proper tools as Skiba said. There is more than just the curriculum that needs to be learned at school; there is a need to help students become socially responsible and engaged citizens. While these skills can be acquired outside the school, inside offers a safer environment where they can fail without penalty.

The article focuses on students who may have been involved in violence (fights) or bullying. The author also lists some things that could help integrate these students back in and not send them into the “school-to-prison pipeline”. It was said that minorities were more at risk for expulsion and thus are also over represented in American prisons. By removing the zero tolerance policy, we make the school more equal for everyone. Everyone has some right to education and if students are acting out, then the school needs to adjust the strategies it is using. This will create a more anti-oppressive environment. One thing that resonated with me was this idea of talking to the student about the harm their behavior has caused rather than slapping the rule book down in front of them. This allows them to see the pain and damage their act has caused and removes some of that authoritative tension. Interestingly, he also mentions giving these students specific formative feedback about their behaviors and social skills. Having students hear and see this feedback can help them take ownership in the changing process, in the same way that doing this in the classroom helps students.

One large idea I took away from this article was getting to know your students’ lives outside of school. An educator that I talk to on occasion always mentions that the “bad students” really get along with her. She takes the time to talk to those students and get to know their stories and that obviously means something to them if they keep coming back to her. This sort of care is something I want to give in my classroom. It doesn’t take too much time from your day to speak with the students and ask them about their life, goals, and interests. Having someone care can go a long way for someone. Keep students in the classroom!