Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thursday October 7: Stand with Umpqua Community College

Photo by Linda Thomas.

Please join us in the A quad for a moment of silence - and more - on Thursday, October 8th.

At 10:27 a.m. last Thursday, on October 1, on an ordinary day, on an ordinary community college campus, learning stopped and lives were destroyed.

Join us as we gather around the nine empty chairs and reflect upon this. We will begin at 10:27 and remain through 11:00 AM, the national time of mourning.

"We are not — are we? — at the mercy of our political institutions. If we created them, we are responsible for them. We have the right and the duty to overhaul them, to change them. We are not — are we? — so helpless, to say that the [inaudible] has to stay there forever. Who said so?… It is inconceivable that a sovereign people should continue, as we do so abjectly, to say, “I can’t do anything about it. It’s the government.” The government is the creation of the people. It is responsible to the people. And the people are responsible for it. No American has the right to allow the present government to say, when Negro children are being bombed and hosed and shot and beaten all over the Deep South, that there is nothing we can do about it. There must have been a day in this country’s life when the bombing of the children in Sunday School would have created a public uproar … It happened here and there was no public uproar.” 

– James Baldwin, from his speech “After the Murder of Four Children” Sept. 25, 1963, ten days after Birmingham church bombing that killed four little girls

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Emergency Protocols: In Case of Active Shooter in the Classroom

Here's an open letter penned by Melissa Duclos, a part-time community college instructor in Oregon:
Thursday, October 1 was my second day of class as a writing instructor at a community college in Oregon.
Following the shooting that occurred at Umpqua Community College on Thursday, where 10 people were killed, I realized that as a new hire, I hadn’t been fully informed on my college’s emergency protocols. What should I do in the event of what we now call, with heartbreaking regularity, an active shooter situation? According to my school’s Emergency Response Guide, I should attempt to evacuate my students if it is deemed safe to do so. My classroom is on the third floor; to evacuate we would need to descend two flights down an open staircase, and exit through a wide lobby. We would need to know with absolute certainty that the active shooter was not on the third floor, or the second, or anywhere in the lobby. In other words, evacuation, my first course of action, seems highly unlikely.
The next option, according to my college, is to lock the door. This unfortunately is not possible, as the door to my classroom can only be locked with a key, a key that I do not have and won’t ever be given. Left, then, in my third-floor classroom with its unlocked door, I am instructed to turn off the lights and lower the blinds, to use the tables to build a barricade, and get everyone out of the line of fire. I am further instructed to “arm [myself] with classroom items (e.g., stapler, chair, fire extinguisher) to fight back with in the event that the shooter attempts to enter [my] room.”
In the next paragraph, I am told what to do if that shooter does in fact enter our classroom: “There is no one procedure that can be recommended in this situation,” the manual informs me with grim honesty, before adding, “[i]f you must fight, fight to win and survive.”
Fight to survive. I am a teacher, with a master’s degree in creative writing, and this is part of my job.
These security measures — generic, unfollowable, completely incompatible with the reality of my school — are, in their inadequate way, essential. It is not the school’s fault that heavily armed people, whether through incurable rage or mental instability, all too frequently choose academic institutions as the settings for the horror they unleash. I recognize that we do not have the resources to retrofit our facilities with safer features. I am positive that handing me — or any teacher — a gun will solve nothing. Regardless of the level of preparedness, though, it is clear that schools and teachers are being asked to do a job that they are not meant to do.
My son will start kindergarten next year. At 5 years old he and his classmates, in addition to learning reading and math, will be walked through lockdown drills by a teacher who will likely be hiding an immense terror as she has students practice finding a cozy place to hide and times how long they can remain quiet. It will probably seem like a game to him at first, but eventually my son and the rest of America’s schoolchildren who are learning the same lessons will ask why. Why have we allowed our schools to become a place where children must hide, and teachers must fight to survive?
What do you recommend I tell him? This week, when I speak to my students about what happened at Umpqua and about our own emergency procedures, what do you advise I say after I explain that the stapler and whiteboard markers — the only classroom supplies I have in my room — are critical to our survival?
I could tell them that your thoughts and prayers are with us. I could tell them we have your deepest sympathies. But I am teaching a class on argument, instructing my students on the importance of facts. So instead I will tell them the truth: They have to be prepared to hide out of the line of fire, and to fight for our survival, because you, our lawmakers, haven’t done your jobs. I will tell them that their rights, my rights, the rights of my 5-year-old, to attend school without fear of facing senseless slaughter by machine-gun fire, are not important to you, that we must be prepared to fight tooth and nail, stapler and whiteboard marker, because you refuse to fight the gun lobby in this country.
The next time you have an opportunity to sponsor or vote on common-sense gun legislation, instead of fearing the attack ads the gun lobby will undoubtedly launch against you, the lost campaign revenue, or the threat to your job, I hope that you think of me and my students, of the rest of the educators and students across the country, who have been asked to stand up to gunmen because you are too scared to stand up to a handful of lobbyists.


Stop by the A-quad today and visit the memorial  we will set up.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

More on the shooting at Umpqua Community College

From The Oregonian:
College shooting: Alert systems failed, faculty members say

Emergency alert systems at Umpqua Community College may have failed to warn students and faculty of a shooter on campus Thursday. Three associate professors told The Oregonian/OregonLive they did not receive emergency notifications that were supposed to show up on computers connected to a college network. Two of the three also said they were enrolled in a campus alert system that should have sent them a text message, but they never received one....
...There's no way to know whether proper alerts would have saved lives or prevented injuries as gunman Christopher Harper-Mercer opened fire in a writing class, ultimately killing nine and injuring nine more in a 10-minute rampage. The faculty members said the only warning they received was an email that a secretary appears to have sent manually as police began arriving on campus....
...Blackwood said he was teaching a lab Thursday morning with a half-dozen students crowded around his computer when another student came up and told him to check his email. "The emergency notification that should have popped up on all the computers did not occur," Blackwood said. He also checked his phone for texts. Nothing. "The second notification system, which would have been sent to all students and all faculty who registered for the emergency notification system — as everyone is encouraged to do — did not function either," he said. Blackwood saw Frazer's warning email and concluded that "the other two systems had not fired." He interrupted the class next door, where the professor was lecturing with her computer projected onto a classroom screen. No alert there, either...
From the Los Angeles Times:

The gunman who carried out the deadly attack at Umpqua Community College was a student in the same class as many of his nine victims: Writing 115, also called Introduction to Expository Writing.
Authorities identified the dead on Friday and they, as well as friends and family, shared details about those lost.Some were teenagers, trying to make their way toward four-year colleges. The oldest was their teacher, Larry Levine, 67, an assistant professor of English who taught part time at Umpqua for many years so he could pursue his other passions – fly fishing on the Umpqua River and writing about the outdoor world he loved...
Levine’s colleague, Andrew Madaus, who shared an office with him and sometimes taught the same class, said Writing 115 was an entry-level course some students were required to take before they could take a higher-level course for which they could earn college credit. “It’s basically for the students who did not quite test well enough or get into an argumentative writing class,” Madaus said. “It’s a refresher on compare and contrast, definition essays. We give you a word, a concept, maybe a science term or something, and you do basic research and say what it means.”
Madaus said the layout and limited sight lines around Snyder Hall would have made it fairly easy for a gunman to enter without being initially detected. He said it was unlikely the gunman knew Levine well or could have had enough experience with him to be frustrated by something that happened in class.
 “He was just so easy-going,” he said of Levine. “He’s not the kind of teacher that drives you nuts because they’re always in your face. He was perfect for that lower-level class because he had that extra patience. I just don’t know how we’re going to move forward.”
Levine also taught higher levels of writing, including creative writing, which Madaus said he had particularly enjoyed teaching....
 Since Sandy Hook, there has been nearly one school shooting a week

Click title above to see interactive map.

There have been 142 shootings on school in the U.S. since 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012 according to Everytown For Gun Safety, an advocacy group. Incidents were classified as school shootings when a firearm was discharged inside a school building or on campus, as documented in news accounts. This includes events that did not target students or teachers, like suicides, misfires and other activity. Incidents in which guns were brought into schools but not fired, or were fired off school grounds after having been possessed in schools, were not included.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Yesterday at Umpqua Community College

Proposal: memorial in the A-quad next Monday.  Number of empty chairs equal to the number of those killed.  A place to leave messages and more.  Let us know if you would like to help with this. 

My kids have been doing these drills since preschool. They talk about them in animated, but not necessarily traumatized, tones. My son used to think it was hilarious to cram himself into a large bathroom with his 19 preschool classmates, plus three teachers. My daughter's favorite lockdowns were in first grade, because they could hide in a soundproof room off their main classroom, which meant their teacher could very quietly read to them to calm their nerves. "Our door isn't soundproof this year," my daughter tells me. "So we have to be silent, so the gunman can't hear us." ...
Not a single morning goes by that I don't drop my son and daughter at school and wonder for a split second — that's all I allow myself — whether they will be murdered by a gunman that day. I know I'm not the only parent who does that. We have become like the sea turtles who entwine pollutants into their nests — accepting and weaving deadly trash into the most sacred parts of our lives.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Our 2nd "banned books" read-out a hit

Brittany and I had to attend a Senate meeting, so we didn't arrive until 4:05,
when things had pretty much wound down. 
Fortunately, Virginia was still in "banned book" mode. I took this pic.

Earlier this morning, Rebel Girl displayed her attire for today's event
Some Humanities Free Speechers
This is our second such event; the first event, a year ago, was a blazing success
Random student fashion shot. She likes books too, I'm sure.

September Board Meeting Highlights

     Be sure to read Tere's Board Meeting Highlights for the September meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees.