Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The opposite of Missing White Woman Syndrome

Amy reported earlier this week that English Language Schools student Trang Nguyen has been missing for nearly a week.

As Amy stated, the schoolwide email from Jessica McKinnon (a name I've never heard in my Dominican career--anyone know who she is?) had the subject line of "Update."

Update? Yeah, no.

That was the first most had heard of the situation. Sure, "foul play wasn't suspected," but come on. For someone who lives on campus, this incident could pose a security threat to other students in the area. I don't think it matters that she's "not an official Dominican student;" someone who attends classes on our campus is a part of the student body.

If we had been notified of this promptly, in those first crucial 48 hours after a person goes missing, perhaps she would have been found by now. Beyond that, the chances of recovering the person steeply fall, but of course there are exceptions.

Call me Devil's Advocate if you will, but I can't help but wonder if this is another case of the opposite of what has been dubbed "Missing White Woman Syndrome." MWWS refers to the disproportionate media attention given to white women who go missing in contrast to people of color. Jon Benet Ramsey? Chandra Levy? Natalee Holloway, anyone?


What about prisoners of war? Most people recognize the name of Jessica Lynch, but what about Shoshana Johnson or Lori Piestewa? The black and Native American (respectively) single mothers received basically no coverage (even though they were ambushed in the same attack!), and even Lynch herself criticized the disproportionate positive discrimination in regard to her media coverage.


Getty Images


What if the Trang Nguyen was a 20-something blonde who lived in the Priory?

I'm just throwing that idea out there, but ultimately I believe the university should be more responsible in reporting such serious incidences.

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