The week before spring break, student David Kalenga-Kasongo heard a clicking noise in a University of Wisconsin-Platteville bathroom. He interpreted the sound as the racking of a gun. He turned and saw the barrel of a firearm inside a stall. He pulled the fire alarm and called the Platteville city police. Under questioning, Kalenga-Kasongo said it was “long barrel” like “an AK 47”. Lock down! From uwpexponent.com . . .
University of Wisconsin-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields closed all public campus buildings at 1:30 p.m. on March 14 due to a security threat in the men’s restroom on the first floor of Ullsvik Hall.
The week before spring break is crowded with midterm exams at the University of Wisconsin at Platteville. From facebook:
Spring break is fast approaching, and that means midterms for students at UW-Platteville. Check out these last minute tips from The Princeton Review to ace those midterm exams.
I’ve interviewed a number of people as an investigator. I have my doubts about the accuracy of Kalenga-Kasongo’s account.
A retired police officer told me that the “gun on campus” has become the new “bomb threat.” Bomb threats became so ubiquitous in the 70’s that severe penalties were put in place, and enforced, for people calling in fraudulent bomb threats. The cost of institutions being forced to shut down for hours at a time is enormous.
But “Gun!” threats are politically correct. Questioning the validity of such threats is verboten; especially on university campuses.
I have been to the University of Platteville. I once considered attending there. It is a small school at a small town in rural America. They had a fine mining engineering program with an excellent reputation. I can only imagine the embarrassment of the engineering students and faculty at the level of political correctness being exhibited at their school. Kalenga-Kasongo is himself an engineering student. From uwpexponent.com:
The Exponent made repeated attempts to contact Kalenga-Kasongo for comment, but he did not return phone calls, Facebook messages or text messages. A cursory background check reveals that Kalenga-Kasongo, who has a Madison address, is an honors graduate of MATC, a general engineering major at UW-Platteville, and has had at least one brush with the law.
The campus Chancellor, Dennis Shields, seems a bit skeptical about the whole affair. But he acted professionally when asked about the incident. From the uwpexponent.com:
“I think it is very important not to overreact,” Shields said. “The last thing I want to do is see campus turned into an armed camp.”
Shields and Williams were also asked why the buildings were evacuated rather than being put on lockdown.
Shields said that it was because there was no evidence of an active shooter.
Another attendee asked whether pulling the fire alarm was the right thing to do in such a situation.
“I can’t speak for what [the student] did,” Williams said. “He certainly got everybody’s attention.” Williams also said that the response would have been different if it was an active shooter.
Eventually, universities and schools will have to come to grips with the disruptions and down time caused by these sorts of alarms. I suspect that sanctions will start to be enforced for fraudulent alarms. The current rewards for false alarms, such as avoiding exams, getting a few hours off, and feeling the power of making hundreds or thousands of people jump to your command, are seductive. For now, the costs of doing so are non-existent.
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