If you didn’t catch my earlier post, entitled “Lockdown on Campus,” you can find it here.  In a nutshell, Tuesday, Feb. 12, we received reports of a “man with a weapon on campus” and were informed to “seek shelter.”  While we faculty and students shit our pants at the thought of a gunman in our midst, one of my best and brightest stated the obvious, “Don’t the classroom doors have locks?” My God, I thought, she was right. The doors didn’t have locks: we were shit out of luck, or locks, depending on how you see it.

This young woman was asking the right questions, and I’ll be damned if her college-education wasn’t paying off.  So, I took it on myself to write the President, no, I didn’t fire off a letter to Obama, I wrote the University President, complimenting him (of course) on the quick actions of his response-team, and I brought up the issue of putting locks for the classroom doors. Low and behold, within an hour or two, I had a response, which I shall reproduce for your reading pleasure. I have also included several annotations to clarify any of the special meanings hidden deep in the text. As always, enjoy!

Him: Dear Dr. Gabacho

Thanks for the note about classroom doors.  We do have the ability to lock down our lab schools, and that was done on Tuesday afternoon.  Unfortunately, locking down a campus with 106 buildings and thousands of rooms presents us with a unique set of challenges.

Me: Here the president is actually saying that there is no fucking way they are going to put locks on classroom doors. In effect, his response is what I call “the long version of no,” complete with asinine and horseshit justifications and statistical information that go way over my head.

Him: As Tuesday’s events unfolded, my office and indeed all the entrances to [The Administration Building] remained open.

Me: what he means here is that my students and I are a bunch of sniveling wimps and that he was just as exposed as we were and he’s not bitching about it. He does, however, leave out the fact that his office is a bunker, is a lot further away from action, and actually has locks he can choose to use.

Him: We have had conversations about classroom doors, but quite frankly, a locked classroom door would do little to deter a shooter armed with a high powered weapon.

Me: Locks on the doors won’t deter air strikes, either, you schmuck, but it will make it harder for a whacko to rack up a body count. Oh, and by the way, there should be a hyphen between the word “high” and “powered.”

Him: In the case of the shooting in Newtown, the entrance doors were locked but the shooter simply used one of his weapons to gain entry.

Me: Yeah, the glass was simply too thin. However, the windows on the doors in our building are five inches wide, have shatter-proof glass and the doors are made of steel. Now, the shooter could blow the door off with artillery, but it might slow him down just a tad.

Him: Fortunately, murders rarely occur on college campuses

Me: You’re kidding, right? Are you forgetting about Virginia Tech, Kent State, Xin Yan, UT, Lehigh University, Cal State at Fullerton, South Carolina State at Orangeburg, Oikos University, Manhattanville College, Wyoming Community College, and Northern Illinois University?

Him: The latest federal data indicated that over the past 13 years, there have been an average of 26 murders per year.  Since there are 4,200 colleges in the U.S., it means that the average campus can expect to experience a murder about once every 166 years.

Me: Okay. You’ve got a typo here.  The line should read, “there has been an average.” So, taking into account that the average is once every 166 years, doesn’t it look like someone is cutting through the backlog? I admit the odds are still pretty favorable in Vegas, but I really want to make it to retirement.

Him: Of the 16,000 homicides that occur each year in the U.S., campus murders represent less than 1% of the total.

Me: So, what you are saying is that the world is much more dangerous than campus, which is why I have locks on the doors at my house and car.  Oh, by the way, wasn’t it Mark Twain that said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Oh, one more thing, instead of “less than 1%” it should be “fewer than 1%.” The rule in English is if you can count it, use fewer.

Him: Our campus is one of the safest campuses in the U.S.

Me: Yep, that’s exactly what was on our minds last Tuesday afternoon while we were cowering in fear, shitting ourselves and sweating it out. We actually felt so safe on campus that we felt sorry for those people who had locks on the doors.

Him: We have our own police force that patrols the campus 24-hours a day,  …

Me: That’s what these guys do? I thought they rode around on bikes in shorts, busting students for underage drinking and noise violations, smoking cigarettes within fifteen feet of the entrances to buildings.

Him: … while most campuses depend on community policing.  We also have a private security force that provides another layer of protection.

Me: Ah, those the guys stationed outside your unlocked doors?

Him: I understand that our communication systems and police patrols provide protection that is, for the most part, reactive.  A true measure of security could only be achieved by using metal detectors and controlled access for all buildings.

Me: Now, you are talking. This is exactly what we need. Big fucking machines! Just like the ones they use in the airports.

Him: But even that system would not prevent a shooter from targeting victims outside of any building.

Me: Whoa, whoa, slow down! What do you mean “but”? You’re changing the subject, asshole!  The original point was to have locks for the doors so when we got an alert telling us to “seek shelter” we actually would have a place that could provide shelter. Now, you are saying, “locks on the doors can’t help people who are outside?” Well, no shit, Sherlock! That’s why we have doors, so we don’t get shot while we’re outside, you schmuck.

Him: The conversation about campus security is on going and I welcome any ideas you might have that would help us keep the campus safe.

Me: Yo, you really have a hyphenation issue. This is really sad: a university president who forgets that “on-going” has a hyphen in it. Oh, and by the way, I just gave you an idea, dipshit! So much for your university-wide discussion! And, also, note the proper use of the hyphen in the previous sentence.

Him: Respectfully yours,

Me: This means, “fuck you, now shut up and don’t bother us anymore!”

Him: Sincerely, The President

Me: Fuck you, too!


About the Author

Jimmy Gabacho

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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