University of North dakota associate English Professor Heidi Czerwiec has caused quite a stir with her letter to the editor of the Grand Forks Herald threatening to call 911 every time she sees an ROTC exercise on campus.
The letter was apparently born of an incident where Czerwiec saw ROTC personnel on campus carrying their practice guns (they’re fakes used for exercises) and called 911. She was told that it was the ROTC, and that they have permission to do exercises on campus, but in her letter she said she would call 911 every time she saw them.
“It’s not my job to decide whether people carrying guns at school are an actual threat,” she wrote. “It’s my job to teach and to get home to my family.”
Now, per the WDAZ report above, it seems Czerwiec also left a profanity-laced tirade on the voicemail of the campus ROTC.
“There is no (expletive) reason why I should have to be terrorized like this, to look up and see gunman on the quad and dive under my desk thinking that perhaps we’re under attack or something,” she said.
She also gave this statement to WDAZ about the controversy:
Much of the information being dispersed on this incident is misleading. I saw two young men with guns outside my office. They were not obviously part of any training, and we had not been notified there would be any training that day. I called 911 to report it in order to protect myself, my students, and my coworkers. I have nothing against ROTC or its cadets – they are some of my finest students. But in this current climate of school shootings, I’m sure many would agree that having students run across campus with guns while classes are in session is unwise and irresponsible. When I said I would call 911 again, I was saying that any time I see something suspicious that is not obviously part of a drill, I will call it in. At the university, we are told, “if you see something, say something.” I am doing my job.
As I said in my initial post on this matter, I can’t blame Czerwiec for calling 911 initially. It’s understandable how someone could maybe confuse, at a glance, ROTC personnel with perhaps someone on campus armed and intent on violence.
But her angry voicemail left for the ROTC seems downright unhinged, as was her threat in the letter to the Grand Forks Herald to call 911 every time she sees the ROTC. She says in the statement above that she only meant that she would call when she sees something “suspicious that is not obviously part of a drill,” but that wasn’t at all clear from her letter.
Words mean things. You’d think someone working in a university English department would understand this.
And Czerwiec’s jab ROTC exercises being “highly inappropriate” speaks to a hostility towards the program she doesn’t seem willing to admit to now.
Meanwhile, per a comment from UND spokesman Peter Johnson earlier this week, the school will now be sending out a campus wide alert for every ROTC drill as well as alerting Czerwiec personally.
I’m glad there is going to be more communication about ROTC drills on campus, but that level of notification seems absurd.