Some "dramatic irony" at work yesterday.

My wife and i both teach at a nearby university. Just before 4:00 p.m. yesterday we had both finished teaching for the day, and were getting ready to go home. Just as we were about to leave, we each got an email with the following message:

After a minute of chatter in the hallway to make sure that everyone had received the message, we all locked ourselves in our offices. About 25 minutes later, we got the all clear. As we left campus, there were cops all over, including a few carrying rifles.

Anyway, this is what happened:

I have a couple of friends who teach in the Visual and Performing Arts Department. Luckily for them, it was not their classes that caused the confusion.

Hey, nothing like a dry run to make sure everything works.

I’m rather amused by the fact that the performing students didn’t realize they were the cause of the ruckus.

Good thing none of the police made the (tragic in hindsight) decision to shoot.

Well that seems to me to be the perfect way of raising an alarm in an emergency - sending an email.

It sounds exactly like a script from a bad sitcom.

Mayor: Now Drebin, I don’t want any trouble like you had on the South Side last year, that’s my policy.
Frank: Well, when I see five weirdos, dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that’s my policy!
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare-In-The-Park production of ‘Julius Caesar,’ you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones!

Well, it’s a bit more sophisticated than that.

Those of us who were in our offices at our computers received the email first, but we also got text messages and voicemails on our cellphones and our office phones.

For faculty and students who were in class, the lecture room telephones rang and when answered conveyed the message, and the in-class speaker system also activated and made the announcement.

So, did the guns not have the orange tips on them that indicate that they are okay?

Police Officer: Drop the Gun! Hands in the air!
Drama Student: ACTING!
Police Officer: Genius!

We had something similar happen a few years ago. Some idiot who was changing offices threw a box of crap next to a dumpster, causing some other idiot to panic and call the campus police, who put the campus violence plan into place. It was horribly inconvenient at the time, but it’s the closest thing to a real-world test without anyone actually having a gun.

To be fair, the email/text message emergency alert system many universities have now was brought up during the recent UT-Austin events and credited with keeping people off-campus and away from any possible danger.

Just because you want us all to get offa your lawn doesn’t mean that email isn’t the quickest and most reliable way to get a hold of certain people.

The 911 calls also apparently raised a morals issue:


I don’t know, but i don’t think it would have mattered that much.

The people who made the initial 911 calls were students who happened to look into a classroom and see someone aiming a gun, and then saw a woman fall out of the classroom and onto the floor. I’d be willing to bet that (a) they didn’t even know about orange tips, and (b) they weren’t hanging around to ask whether the guns were real.

The whole thing turned out to be nothing, but i certainly don’t blame the people who raised the initial alarm.

I sincerely hope that your combination of this post with your sig was deliberate.

We have the same type of system at our Uni. We get text messages and emails, but I am not sure how the classrooms are set up. We also have appointed “Floor Safety Captains” who are supposed to phone (if possible) each office/lab and let them know of the emergency situation. Their reaction is dependent on the type of emergency. We have only had drills so far, no real emergencies. It was in response to the UVA shootings that the Uni put it into place.