Academic Absurdity of the Week

I think we’ve found the ideal padded cellmate for Melissa Click. The Washington Times reported yesterday on the case of University of North Dakota literature professor Heidi Czerweic, who called the campus police about an ROTC drill she observed on campus. Prof. Czerweic vented her dismay in a letter to the editor of the Grand Forks Herald, which we’re only too glad to reprint here:

Apparently, it’s not enough that UND’s administration is attacking the quality of education by cutting programs and experienced faculty and jacking class sizes. Now, we must also feel under physical attack as well.

I look up from my office computer to see two figures in camo with guns outside my window. My first thought is for my students’ and my safety: I grab my phone, crawl under my desk and call 911. The dispatcher keeps me on the line until someone can see if ROTC is doing maneuvers.

I can barely talk—first, with fear, and then with rage when the dispatcher reports back that yes, in fact, I’ve probably just seen ROTC cadets, though they’re going to send an officer to check because no one has cleared it with them. They thank me for reporting it.

A few minutes later, a university officer calls me back—not to reassure me, but to scold me for calling 911. He says ROTC has permission to do this exercise. When I tell him that this was news to 911 and that they encouraged me to call whenever I see a gun on campus, he seems surprised.

He also tells me that ROTC will be doing these exercises for the next couple weeks.

So I reply that I guess I’ll be calling 911 for the next couple weeks—and I will. Every time.

It’s not my job to decide whether people carrying guns at school are an actual threat. It’s my job to teach and to get home to my family.

It’s already highly inappropriate to conduct unnecessary military maneuvers in the middle of the quad. But with school shootings on the increase and tensions at UND running high, it’s especially irresponsible.

We’re already under financial and emotional attack. We don’t need to feel under physical attack, too.

Here are a few highlights from prof. Czerweic’s web page:

My new collection, Self-Portrait as Bettie Page (Barefoot Muse, 2013), is a sonnet sequence that negotiates the relationship between formal poetics, bondage/discipline, and female identity through the figure of elusive 1950s pinup Bettie Page, whose own identity was a series of costumes.

My last chapbook, Hiking the Maze (Finishing Line, 2009), uses the setting of the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah to explore both the origins of and the maze-like ambiguities of language through a speaker who achieves an ecstatic paralinguistic experience.

I recently completed a poetry manuscript, Maternal Imagination, which represents the female perspective on the monstrous body, since so many of the texts attribute fault to the mother: her imagination, accusations of sex with demons or animals, and even contemporary issues like thalidomide. I am also expanding into translation and creative nonfiction, and it’s both scary and exciting to flex new writing muscles.

North Dakota tax and tuition dollars at work.