Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I was in the middle of teaching today when a gunshot rang out from outside the window on the first floor of the Cathedral. We were discussing Said's essay "States," in which he talks about exile and the constant fear of terrorist attack, among other things. A gun shot.

The shot came from an ROTC patrol doing Lord knows what on the Cathedral lawn, in uniform. Who even knows if there was a real bullet. All I know is that I reacted viscerally. My stomach sank out. My fear burned in my skin. Virginia Tech, was all I could think.

My students are, for the most part, college freshmen. I wonder if they react the same way as I do. I remember after the attacks happened, I consciously chose my seats in classrooms. I never put myself in direct eyeline of the doorway. Now I am the teacher, so I have to stand at the front of the room. Unsafe.

This sound came from outside the window and it so through me that I can't recall a thing that happened in class from that moment on. Why are the ROTC students allowed to fire weapons on campus? What are the rules governing ROTC? Am I allowed to be upset about this or did I miss some sort of patriotic ritual I should have more compassion for?


PeaceLoveMath said...

I think that is very inconsiderate. If they are allowed to fire weapons like that, they should at the very least post signs and make sure they've communicated to everyone that it will be happening so everyone knows it's safe. I would have been scared too!!

Jamie B said...

I've been carrying one of these in my bag for years:

The only problem now is that I teach in a room where the doors open out! At least we're on the first floor.

p said...

If they were in uniform it was probably a scheduled drill and those shots have no ammo.

But you're not the first person to be alarmed by such things. They should send a mass email to the students and faculty if nothing else the day before.


Gun scare defused at Cal State Dominguez Hills: Feb 2008

Campus placed on lockdown because of reports of a man carrying a rifle. It
turns out to be an ROTC student with a nonfunctioning training weapon.
By Susannah Rosenblatt and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times Staff
10:01 AM PST, February 21, 2008

An ROTC student carrying a nonfunctioning rifle on the campus of Cal State
Dominguez Hills in Carson prompted a large police response after students
reported that they had seen a man carrying what appeared to be an assault
rifle on school grounds, authorities said today.

Alarm about a possible gunman at the school lasted for about 45 minutes
this morning as school officials went into lockdown and Los Angeles County
sheriff's deputies searched for a person matching the description given
them by witnesses.

Shortly after 9 a.m., authorities determined that Reserve Officer Training
Corps students preparing for a drill had been carrying rifles that pose no
threat, sheriff's officials said. Such weapons are real firearms but have
been disabled so they can not fire live rounds, said Sgt. Larry Thompson
with the Carson sheriff's station.

"ROTC was doing a drill and apparently they didn't notify campus police,"
said Thompson, who added that one student was detained and questioned, but
no arrest was made.

The false alarm "was good training for us," he said.

Of the misunderstanding, Thompson said: "I would hope that if they were
smart enough they would notify somebody on campus that they were bringing
simulated weapons on campus for training."

An Internet notice announcing that the Carson campus was locked down and
classes canceled was quickly replaced by a new notice this morning saying
that the campus was reopened.

"It has been determined there is no longer a threat on campus," the
notification said.

A news item on the site said "a witness claimed to see a man walking
around campus with an automatic weapon and [ammunition] canisteres [sic]
around his waist. A suspect was been detained who turned out to be an ROTC
student with a drill rifle. The campus was put under lockdown which has
since been lifted."

Concern about a possible armed man at the school came after a string of
campus shootings nationwide, most recently the deaths of six, including
the gunman, at Northern Illinois University near Chicago.