October 12, 2000
While I should have contacted you immediately regarding this situation, I needed some time by myself to collect my thoughts. Yesterday, during my 12:30 to 1:45 LIT 2000 course (in CPR-202), a student, A.L., physically attacked me in front of the class.
I was teaching Alice Sheldon's short story "The Girl Who Was Plugged In"; it begins "Listen, zombie!" I was focusing on his line at the start of my lecture, and I noticed that A.L. was slouched over in his chair, backpack securely zipped, arms folded, and scowling. I asked him to take his book out and join the discussion, and he said "what's the point." I suggested that if he did not see the point, then he was welcome to leave. He responded: "Yeah, I'll take the day off." I said, "no one is making you come to this class, if you're not enjoying it." A.L.: "Don't push me, old man." He made a show of grabbing his bag, and began to leave.
I continued with my lecture when I thought he was out the door: "Listen, zombie!" An unfortunate choice I soon regretted. He turned, threw down his bag, and lunged at me throwing me to the ground: "What are you gonna do now!?" I got to the back room and picked up the phone to call the UP. He followed me back and, before I could dial, ripped the phone out of the wall. Blocking me in the back room, he asked, "What are you gonna do now?" Saying nothing, I pushed past him, walked out of the room, and went to the English office. There the secretary phoned the UP.
Officer Richard Meagher took my statement while other officers went to 202. I narrated the above to him, and he assigned me a case number. The police were unable to find A.L., and Officer Meagher came by my office an hour later to ask me to ask my class to come and make statements. I emailed the class to ask, but I am unaware if any of them followed through with the request.
While I was not physically hurt, I was shaken. I tried to wait for you to come in, but your secretary said you do not come in on Wednesday. I'm sorry that it took me so long to inform you of this situation, but it took me a while to get over my guilt about it and the incredulity I felt at its entirety. I did not leave my house today, but feel better now. My mind is cleared to the point that I have become decisive about A.L.: I do not want him to return to my class; I want him expelled from the university for upsetting the balance of my life and the life of my class, and for his obvious potential to repeat this incident in another class, perhaps in an even more fatal way. I have become indignant that he has made me question my decision to remain an educator and my efficacy as a teacher.
Please let me know if you need anything further from me. I spoke to B.H. and C.C. directly after the incident, if that means anything. If I can think of any other details that might be useful, I'll pass them along. I do have to say that, as a practitioner and advocate of the humanities and a, perhaps naive, believer in human potential, this incident will remain with me, and the members of my class, for a long time.