By John Proctor
When the director of your department invites you into his office to tell you he’d like you to teach in an outreach program with the Sullivan County Correctional Facility teaching writing to inmates, that he sees you as a perfect fit for this partnership because you’ve told him in conversation that your father was in prison when you were born and you didn’t meet him until you were sixteen years old and he also knows how desperately you want to teach writing to someone other than college freshmen. And this opportunity makes you so happy, and then, less than a month later, the director of your department falls or walks or jumps off Breakneck Ridge. And you go to his funeral, and you email the provost and the academic dean to let them know you’d still like to teach in this partnership, and they say they’d still like it to continue, would you like to run it? And you say Yes, Yes, Yes, and then your college’s chief compliance officer says wait, the facility and the coordinating program want the college to assume primary liability, and we have a new incoming president who doesn’t want to take any risks his first year, and you really don’t have any experience coordinating this type of program, and it looks like we’ll have to pass on this partnership and perhaps recalibrate for future such partnerships when the college is more stable. And you want to cry, right there in the office of the chief compliance officer, but you say, simply, Yes, I’d like to pursue future partnerships, and you start talking to other faculty about it and they say, This is a great idea, good luck with it, and you realize, in a moment of terror, that This will not happen unless you make it happen. And you are not one to make things happen—you are one to react, to critique, to feel. And your father-in-law, in a heated discussion of cops shooting unarmed black men, says, I see your point, but what are you going to do about it? Like everyone, you feel deeply. But what are you going to do?