"Starting today, the door will be locked when class begins, so please don't be late."
It's not part of my crackdown on tardiness, which I've always discouraged.
The truth is that the latest school shooting has me a little antsy.
A community college, like the one where I teach. Nine people, plus the shooter dead. Many more wounded, bleeding on the hard tile floors while their friends cowered and prayed for help.
|Photo from the New York Times. Click it to go to the story.|
I look at the picture of the students walking out of the classroom with their hands up, and I recognize them. Not the actual people, but the kinds of students who I teach. Some of them are young, right out of high school. Others are older and chose to return to college. It's still early enough in the semester that some of them carefully pick out their clothes and style their hair, but others, those raising kids and working full-time jobs, feel lucky to get out of the house without jam on their shirts or sleep in their eyes.
That's why today I announced that we'd be locking the door.
"Is that glass bulletproof?" One student asked as he waved toward the glass in the door.
"No, but it's one more deterrent, one more thing to slow someone down," I said. "If someone knocks, I'll go to the door to let them in. I'm old. I've lived my life."
"Oh, man, that's my dream to take out a shooter," said Joseph, 25, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Oregon, a Veteran charged the shooter. 30-year-old Chris Mintz was shot six times according to The Daily Beast.
"That guy was in my unit," Joseph said.
Each of my classes has at least one veteran, and they all give me that sense that they would rush a door if a shooter appeared. But I don't want them to have to. They are all young and they survived horrible wars. They should find peace in their school, in their country.
One of my classrooms doesn't lock with the swipe of my key card, and I don't have a key. I emailed the woman in charge of scheduling and asked my classes to be changed. Within an hour, she had organized it so all of my classes will meet in the same room from now on.
A room that will be locked because the United States has become a dangerous place, where many people are killed in random gun violence.