I am not a professor, I am an undergraduate student, but I do lead my own math course once a week as a part of a student initiated education program. As a student though, I was walking to class today, and walked into a sea of police, so many that they all blended together like zebras do. A policeman came up to be bearing a large rifle telling me to not go this route. Taking another route, I came into a courtyard of students running. I asked why and they said “active shooter”.
Nothing sends more chills down your spine that having this moment almost as deja vu because you’ve seen the videos and heard the news where these same words were said. But it’s not deja vu because you can’t shake your head from the clouds and you realize that you’re living the video that has been played on the news, and now you are now the 186th shooting since the tragic Sandy Hook shooting. I ran to my lab where I remained for 3 hours, frantically answering the messages from concerned friends, while also filtering through the various rumors and facts that I was hearing, only to conclude that I am locked in a classroom because of “active shooter”.
The whole campus was lifted from lockdown, the school is deserted, and news posts start to unravel the story that went down when we were all locked in our rooms.
I am only teaching this course one time, and I had one last lecture left. But as much as I want to have my last class full of students, I felt that it would be best to respect the students (coming from a student), so this is what I sent to them.
In light of today’s events, and after pondering for a bit, I have decided that tomorrow’s class will be cancelled. I am very saddened by to have to do this, and I know all of you have received numerous emails today, but please take the spare time to read below.
You (and I) are all students first. In the midst of midterms this quarter, many of you still managed to attend an extracurricular course, despite your jobs, tests, and other personal obligations, and I greatly admire how much each of you put into the course. However, one of the things as a student, you are not obligated to deal with is an event such as today. People handle stress such as this very differently, and sometimes it takes others more than just a day.
I know a lot of you might want to turn in a final paper, or maybe just talk about math in your future or maybe you liked the teaching style and want to talk about it, so I will still be in the classroom tomorrow at the same time. I think you all of you as students need to be conscious of your own amount of stress and time, especially with finals approaching, which is why tomorrow is optional.
Today’s events are tragic, and it may seem abnormal to just continue with a normal day tomorrow, so I thought I’d lighten the load.
I will be sending last remarks in another email next week, but I just wanted to just update you.
Students have to work with a lot in their day to day activities, but these events are not one of them. I admire the professors who are taking this into account. This is when the robotic tasks of studying and taking classes is disrupted because we are not simply test takers and essay writers, but we are all students too who have fears and anxieties that are not assuaged with an alert text message saying that all is clear. Healing takes time, and it’s my hope that UCLA can take the time to do so amidst the busy schedule of finals.