An Act of Courage


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It had been a terrible week for all of us. Our usually tranquil campus had become a seething mass of angry students who were either trying to force administration into liberalizing programs, or desperately trying to protect themselves from militants. The College President was under siege and calmly trying to ride out this storm, while faculty debated ways and means to reach into minds of the militant students and understand what their problem really was, and what dangers the College would face in conceding to any of their demands.

Our cafeteria had been occupied for several days, and even sensible students were enjoying a sudden increase in meal servings. Militants elected a complete student ‘faculty’ from among their group, while their representative student police patrolled the campus in appropriated college and teacher vehicles. The atmosphere in both men’s and women’s residences was electric. Foreign students had left belongings behind and with their passports taken up temporary residence in town. All students carried knives and clubs for their own protection in case militants targeted them. Once in a while militant students would go on an orgy of destruction, and rumors of arson against faculty homes rippled around the campus.

The real police riot squads camped outside campus in force, waiting for permission from the College President to enter college grounds and deal with dissidents. They had a formidable store of weapons which would have settled matters quickly, but the President hesitated in giving his permission, realizing the majority getting injured in a police charge would likely be innocent bystanders. He sought every means at his disposal to broker a settlement before resorting to police intervention.

We suffered collective shame, both sensible students and faculty of the college. The former were ashamed because they lacked courage to deal with militants; the latter because they felt they’d missed an opportunity to demonstrate acceptable social responsibilities in their teaching assignments.

Then it happened! A single student; we will call him Avinash to protect his privacy; stood in a prominent place on campus and loudly appealed to reason calling for an end to the present insanity. Militant students rushed him from all sides. They beat Avinash with their fists and kicked his prostrate body until he lost consciousness. He was taken from their mad orgy with extreme difficulty, to be rushed to hospital by a nurse braver than the rest of us.

The shock of this climactic violence brought the strike to a halt. Militants were angrily advised to move off campus under peer pressure and with a wary eye on the police convey outside campus they crept away in the night. Students remaining started to pick up the pieces and made peace with the administration.

Resolution to a very serious situation was made possible by one brave student who dared to stand up for reason in spite of consequences he knew he’d suffer. He was rewarded liberally by a grateful administration.

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2013 All rights reserved”

16 thoughts on “An Act of Courage

    1. It was nice of you to visit. I was born in and am I’m retired in Australia but spent 30 years working and travelling in Asia before returning to Australia for hospital management before actually retiring.


      1. Thank you for filling me in, Ian. I am astonished this is a school in Australia, then. Astonished. Just crazy. Great for you to report, as I never saw such news anywhere else.

        Cheers 🙂


      2. Oh no, you have misunderstood so I had not made myself clear. Sorry for that. This was in an Asian country I was teaching business at the time. However if I read the news items right in today’s Australia High Schools here are just as dangerous as that university was there.


  1. What a story, thanks for sharing. I continue to be grateful when I read about brave souls who rush into danger rather than away. I am amazed by these men and women, who knowing danger nonetheless stand up for what is right. This gives me hope, even when I am feeling hopeless.


    1. There were a lot of brave people who did much to counteract the evil of that recent Boston situation. They need much more recognition than all those movie or sports stars who seem to hug headlines and demand huge sums for their efforts. The brave Boston people made their contribution without any thought of reward. I respect them more.


    1. You’re welcome. Our news readers always focus on the bad things that happen in society and it’s nice to hear the occasional story of someone who has risked much to save a person or thing of value.


    1. Yes Yoshiko, even in today’s world there are people who show considerable bravery in order to save people from a dangerous situation. It’s nice to hear those stories instead of the usual dismal news.


  2. Based on a true story, I suppose – when you were in India.

    Quite often, it takes only one soul to become the catalyst – breaking away from the herd is such a monumental challenge.


    1. All my stories are based on true events unless they are filed under mini novels. It was quite a frightening experience. When they began to run out of money the college President told me to take my family off campus so the students couldn’t use them as a bargaining chip for more money to keep food supplied in the cafeteria. I was the Vice President assigned to finance and industries management as well as teaching in the Graduate School. When they ran out of money the students took a reality check and began to turn on the militants.


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