Yesterday I came home to discover 12 new emails from my university outlining the new-fangled security measures that we as students and teachers will be forced to endure throughout the rest of the academic year (and possibly beyond). Phone-trees were established and updated, a resolution to remain safe was passed by the academic senate, email boxes were clogged with junk to ensure a cyber-terrorist couldn't get to us electronically, our president David Boren expressed his deep sorrow to anyone who cared to listen, and finally all campus buildings were locked, to be opened by guards only after showing identification and appearing Caucasian and free of weapons. All in all, it was a long day.
However, today proved that living in this post-Virginia Tech era would not be as simple as an email-blast. During my first class of the morning, campus police rushed into the lecture hall, decked out in SWAT gear, and informed us that there was a security breach on campus and that we would be required to stay in "lock down" until the "situation" was “resolved.” I asked if there would be prison sex like on Oz and if we could put the girls in a different room to really get an authentic experience. The police, although secretly amused, did not respond. Some girl in the front started to cry, so I continued to lecture, ironically about virtue ethics, i.e. the right thing to do is the thing that the virtuous person would do.
At some point I ran out of examples and got bored talking, so I asked the coppers if there had been any progress (we're still sitting in class 20 minutes after it ended). An officer responded with, "Sir, the safety of you and your class is our first concern here."
I retorted, "Well then you should let me out then! I could show you some of these students' test scores... I think they may have brain damage and it could be contagious. Prolonged exposure in close contact is not safe."
The officer began talking into his walkie-talkie and turned his back to me. Some of the students were staring at me now. I pretended to read the newspaper and drink the tea that I'd actually finished an hour ago. Team SWAT all of sudden began filing out of the room and gave us the all clear to go as well. When asked what happened they simple said the situation was "resolved.” "Resolved like they blew up the building resolved? Or resolved like they got the mustard stain out of Boren's tie resolved?" I asked. No answer.
Later, back in the safe confines of my departmental office, I learned why we were locked down. A student reported seeing a man holding what looked like a rifle walking quickly into a classroom. A sketch artist created this rendition of the eyewitness account:
The object was later confirmed to be an umbrella. The student said she had a hard time seeing it clearly because of all the rain.