“Apparently, it’s not enough that UND’s administration is attacking the quality of education by cutting programs and experienced faculty and jacking class sizes,” University of North Dakota Assistant Professor Heidi Czerwiec opines in a letter to grandforksherald.com. “Now, we must also feel under physical attack as well.” Wait. What? “I look up from my office computer to see two figures in camo with guns outside my window. My first thought is for my students’ and my safety: I grab my phone, crawl under my desk and call 911 . . .
Seriously? Ms. Czerwiec crawled under her desk? Well, she is an English professor. Maybe she’s using hyperbole to create a little dramatic tension. If so, there are no rhetorical holds barred.
I can barely talk—first, with fear, and then with rage when the dispatcher reports back that yes, in fact, I’ve probably just seen ROTC cadets, though they’re going to send an officer to check because no one has cleared it with them. They thank me for reporting it.
A few minutes later, a university officer calls me back—not to reassure me, but to scold me for calling 911. He says ROTC has permission to do this exercise. When I tell him that this was news to 911 and that they encouraged me to call whenever I see a gun on campus, he seems surprised.
He also tells me that ROTC will be doing these exercises for the next couple weeks.
So I reply that I guess I’ll be calling 911 for the next couple weeks—and I will. Every time.
It’s not my job to decide whether people carrying guns at school are an actual threat. It’s my job to teach and to get home to my family.
Just so we’re clear: North Dakota punishes false reporting of a crime with up to a year in prison and/or a $2000 fine. More than that, I respectfully suggest that Ms. Czerwiec consider the fact that those ROTC cadets are practicing with replica (i.e. non-firing) rifles. Equally, America’s armed forces protect the liberties which she enjoys at the University of North Dakota. A memo she clearly didn’t get.
It’s already highly inappropriate to conduct unnecessary military maneuvers in the middle of the quad. But with school shootings on the increase and tensions at UND running high, it’s especially irresponsible.
We’re already under financial and emotional attack. We don’t need to feel under physical attack, too.
To quote Morris Albert, feelings. Nothing more than feelings. Nothing less, either.