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If Only Ed Were Smart Enough To Realize, Starting Trouble Only Causes Trouble

by Sudhama Ranganathan Sunday, Jul. 29, 2012 at 7:37 AM
uconnharassment@gmail.com

It seems an easy thing for people to get a handle on, and growing up almost all of us are taught it. You stay away from problems by making wise choices, and not opting to engage in behavior that will cause you excessive problems. It only makes life difficult and more complicated. I mean in the end, once you've stepped in the wrong places enough, you start to learn, right? Not many people with half a brain go looking for problems past a certain point in their lives. Pretty much most of that ends in high school and maybe a year or two beyond depending on who you are.

Smiley face

Even risky behavior past that point in people's lives is typically entered into with some sort of purpose, awareness of what is being entered into and is to an extent calculated to not bring a certain level of problems – usually it's just the risk having a little fun can entail – nothing serious. Risking the kind of problems that come with partying on the weekend or recreation that could lead to an injury or two are part of life and whether in our twenties or beyond, many still enjoy activities that could be “risky.” You may even have a job that comes with a certain amount of risk. But these things typically don't involve causing serious long term repercussions for ourselves or others around us.

Yet, there are just certain people that can't help making life more difficult for themselves than it has to be. They just push things way past where they need to go, and end up giving themselves so much more grief than is necessary, typically pulling others into their garbage along with themselves as a result. I suppose they just don't like feeling alone in their foolish choices.

For instance, when I was at the University of Connecticut I went through harassment that started with one professor. He was the head of the department, and wanted me out of his program and his choice in terms of the path to achieve that end was that of subtle harassment. It's the most common form today as it's the most difficult to prove and easiest to get away with. Sure, it's a coward's way, but who ever said bigots and bullies were brave?

This professor was unsuccessful at intimidating me into just saying “it's not worth it” and leaving. He recruited others into his scheme by essentially lying to the most naïve among my peers, and convincing them of all kinds of racist b.s. by using post 9-11 fears as my father is from India and I had been involved in a student protest thirteen years earlier – even though it was about civil rights not religion. Time went on and it turned out this wasn't enough either, so they went after those trying to stay neutral on the matter or that were on the fence trying to pull them into their schemes. They would harass them and at the same time offer incentives like better grades, etc for cooperation. One of the ways they tried to make life hard for me, and those that weren't on board with their racism, was to disperse the information required for a project through channels other than just the professor.

For example, the professor would give out say two thirds of the info required, then pass the rest to one or two of his his cronies to pass out to the class – at their discretion of course. If they said, “I can't now I gotta go, I'll be back in an hour,” and then never came back, your grade dropped. If they said “email me” and then never responded and said they never got the email, even though you emailed them multiple times, your grade dropped, etc. They finally even got to those supporting me through harassment and dropping of their grades. It was a major that essentially involved subjective grading criteria on almost every major project. There weren't a lot of black or white yes or no answers, so dropping people's grades was easy.

It kept going, and as the semesters progressed and the intensity and level of planning kept increasing. At times I felt it was all a bit too planned and seemed really well coordinated, but I had enough on my plate and wasn't about to go down that line of thinking, as it can just make a person paranoid and that was the last thing I needed. In my senior year I had enough and revealed to a person that was on again off again in his support of me, named Ed, that I wanted to file a formal complaint and maybe sue. Ed was on again of again for what I had assumed up until then were reasons of self preservation and trying to graduate, though he was very enthusiastic in his support of my harassers when he was off.

He began trying to convince me to not complain openly or sue. He did this over and over, but he finally realized I had enough and despite the fact my harassers were going to vehemently deny my assertions, I was going in. After many attempts to redirect my intentions trying every angle it seemed he could think of, he tried the truth. He admitted to me he was working in the capacity of an undercover law enforcement personnel at UConn and had been for eight years.

He named a few others in my degree program from my graduating class I guess in the hopes I would be either intimidated, humbled or otherwise impressed. He was wrong. Sure it was just after 9-11 and tensions were high. Even though I was never involved in anything related to terrorism or religious activism, fundamentalism or fanaticism in any way, if certain people wanted to put in a couple of undercover folks to watch me in my classes that was fine with me. The protest I was involved in back in 1990 was at a college, so okay if that was their justification to blow taxpayer money between 2003 – 2006, fine. Even though there were real terror suspects they actually should have been watching in the world, as long as it didn't interfere with my work, watch away. I had nothing to hide then and still don't.

In fact, if they had been watching me enough to believe I needed to be watched, they would already have known there was no reason to watch me. I had no political ties, my friends were people I liked to do music with, to hang out with and to go out with and my girlfriends from 1990 to 2003 – 2006 were about as normal as you could get regarding politics, etc. If they had been watching me, they would have known the only political involvement I had was in voting. As far as I know voting's legal.

But they went beyond that, thus causing themselves far more problems than they would have had they never crossed that point and decided to experiment, or whatever it is they called what they were doing. See, once I was aware of what folks in the class were involved from a law enforcement standpoint, it became clear they were all the people involved in the harassment to one extent or another. Most were actually involved often enough in the planning like Ed.

My way of surviving wasn't to take it in class then go home and cry till I went to sleep. I developed counter strategies. This must have become obvious to them as I was obviously anticipating their moves after a certain point. Thus, they had to do more and more, become more obvious, involve more non-law enforcement people and finally actually admit it to me in a desperate hail mary to get me not to go public. The more they tried to use humiliation, unconstitutional criminal means and violations of my basic civil and human rights, the more it made me want to see them fail. This too had to have become obvious. I was feeding off of their negative energies and efforts and turning them positive (for me). It only made life harder for them in the end.

In fact it was the stupidest thing to do to harass me. This is post 9-11, and if they wanted to say, “we have concerns about you for national security reasons and you can't go to school right now” they could do that – no questions asked. They never did. They never even called me in for a meeting to discuss my past and my intentions at UConn be it school administration or law enforcement. In fact, after 9-11 or since my crimes from 1990 when I was seventeen years old and the legal issues that ensued had finished, I was never questioned by anyone regarding any such issues in terms of law enforcement be it prior to 9-11 or post.

Now, because they went so far beyond that point, I have constructed a web site and listed names and put up pictures of certain people involved. Had they just surveilled me, including physically watching me in class etc, phones, emails, im's, etc, then acted if something happened as the law dictates, they never would have had these problems. But they decided to break the law by taking it into their own hands, and now look where they are. Ed said he was afraid if I went forward publicly his work and that of others working undercover would be exposed.

Here we are witnessing their being exposed. I still don't know why they did what they did to this day. That is not what surveillance is supposed to be about – what they did was something else – something our law enforcement services are not authorized to do, not here in the US. If they never would have done it, they never would have paid the price. As I have no intention of taking down my website or writing what I've been writing it will go on, and they just keep on paying. Hope they had fun during those three years – their faces are known now and there's more to come. People deserve the truth and to be warned. To all those going through harassment themselves of whatever sort, stay strong and persevere. You can survive and win. I did. I graduated despite them, and can now write about it and spread the word – something I thoroughly enjoy doing.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.

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