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Short-sighted and foolish: University uncovers meaningful corpses

February 11, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/10/1000-bodies-university-mississippi-insane-asylum_n_4761166.html

Now that such a rare event has been recorded, it’s something of a veritable gold mine of opportunity for cross-disciplinary investigation.

Whereas the university sees this find solely as an obstacle, taking a year or two out to let certain college classes do the job for the purpose of learning, discovery, and field experience would be something of an investment that describes what any decent college spirit should be about: Treat unusual problems as opportunities rather than as expensive obstacles.

The University of Mississippi has discovered a suspected gravesite of former paupers straight from an old asylum that for reasons unknown the leadership appears eager to distance themselves from, as if having lost sight of the mission and benefits of hosting a diverse learning environment of students eager to get hands-on experience in practical matters.

Relocating each corpse to another section of campus has been estimated to cost $3 million ($3k per corpse).

These opportunities can be stated. For example, these bodies relate to:

  • state history (slavery, criminality, mental illness, misfortune — how do these bodies relate to quality of life in Mississippi during the era?)
  • history of science (what was the state of the art of this asylum?)
  • cultural anthropology (what were their lifelong living conditions?)
  • forensic sciences, forensic history (how did each one die?)
  • history of medicine — which ones’ lives could had been saved with modern medical technology?

Clearly, the university could even erect a little historic kiosk about their own on-site cemetary — a relocational proposition that seems to be under consideration in any case at the moment. Imagine all the diligent effort that its resident colleges could put into the effort while moving the bodies and in effect profiting off the opportunity instead of wasting the estimated $3 million?

What a price to pay for temporal convenience!

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