Sweet home Alabama. It’s the home of law schools that have given us great stories in the past.
A fairly recent story, involving a student at the University of Alabama School of Law who got into a silverware spat with his roommate, was on the lighter side. But our latest tale from UA is more serious — especially in the wake of yesterday’s tragic shootings at Northern Illinois University.
Read more, after the jump.
Yesterday afternoon, this email was sent out on behalf of Dean Ken Rendall:
From: Mary Spybey
Sent: Thu 2/14/2008 1:56 PM
To: [UA Law]
Subject: From: Ken Randall
Many of you were aware of a situation today involving a first-year student, whom we have assisted. We also have addressed and resolved fully all other concerns connected to the situation. I appreciate the help of those involved. (Please forgive the uncommon lack of details in an email from me, but I know you appreciate the privacy aspects of the situation.)
This morning brought a new email from Dean Randall:
A few students have e-mailed me about the note I sent yesterday afternoon.
Though federal privacy law restrains us from sharing certain details about the student who disrupted class yesterday, I will be happy to answer any questions that I can concerning any institutional concerns.
We took some precautionary steps yesterday in consultation with campus experts and our school has been and remains secure. Your well-being is my number one priority.
In order to make myself available to all students, I will have open office hours today for 3 hours from approximately 11:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. You do not need an appointment to see me. You are also free to call me at my office [xxxx] or on my cell [xxxx].
Clarification: The “office hours” email did in fact go out, but we’re not sure how widely it was distributed. It may have been sent only to students who contacted the dean to inquire about the situation.
What exactly happened in that classroom is unclear. Here are some of the different accounts we’ve heard:
It wasn’t my section, but apparently some 1L had a nervous breakdown and started saying a bunch of really creepy/weird stuff in class. Apparently it was laced with school-shooting innuendo.
From what I have heard so far a 1L made some comments in either his Property or Con Law classes this morning that made people extremely uncomfortable. The accounts I have heard so far claim that the Prof. teaching the class wrote “Happy Valentines Day” up on the board, a few minutes into class the 1L stood up and asked the Prof. to erase it because he had “a date on Saturday and it’s making me nervous.” Later in the class someone made up a hypo about Auburn University (the 1L’s alma mater), the 1L stood up an allegedly said “I’m not like the guys at columbine or the guy at VA Tech, and you can search my backpack…” he then said something about how using Auburn in the hypo was upsetting him.
The whole incident made several people (including the prof.) very nervous, the prof. ended class, and I guess someone came to talk to the 1L (one account I heard claims that the police were called, but I doubt it).
If it is really no big deal I don’t understand why the dean sent the email out. It raises more questions than it answers and only serves to fuel the law school rumor mill.
A guy in one of the classes was acting really strange this morning. He asked his property teacher to erase happy valentines day off the board, then he asked her to take Auburn out of a hypo. Then he asked if he could tell a poem or a joke which the teacher allowed. In his spiel, he was telling people not to think he was crazy like the student in Colorado or the guy from Nebraska or any of the crazy people that have done things in the past. Then he said you can search my locker, carrell, and backpack because I don’t have anything. He made a few other references to past shootings like colombine and the mall shooting.
The teacher said he could step outside if he wasn’t feeling well and he just sat down. Then he jumped up and reached for his backpack and the guy next to him took his backpack and wouldn’t let him get it.
People in the class said he was shaking and obviously upset about something.
Yesterday, a first-year property professor apparently wished his students “Happy Valentine’s Day” through a message written on his classroom’s whiteboard. A student called on during the class stopped in mid-answer saying “that is so distracting” and not saying anything else. Said student then volunteered to answer another question later in the class, only to go on a long tirade all about school shootings, delivered while standing up. There may or may not have been crying involved. After class, the professor counseled the student to go home, relax, and try to just get whatever was in his system out of it.
Several students in the class were immediately more concerned by these statements, however, due not only to the statements sheer oddity, but also the fact that the student had been seen continuously looking at Columbine and other school-shooting related websites for approximately the last two weeks during class. When contacted, the administration stood silent. Unsatisfied, the students then called the police, who went to the kid’s house and performed a search.
Here the details become a little murky as we have no roommate or neighbors to confirm this with, but the word is that the kid was then arrested and taken to Bryce Hospital — a local maximum security mental hospital — for evaluation (where he remains). We do know for sure, however, that several areas of the school (specifically the library and clinical instruction areas) were cleared of faculty and students and bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in to sweep. Interviewers from the large regional firms were simply kept in their interview rooms unaware, however, and we have heard that they are now extremely pissed at the school. Students working in the areas swept were told explicitly not to talk to the media if contacted and that no mention of the dogs presence should be made to anyone.
Feel free to discuss (respectfully) in the comments, but please don’t identify any individuals by name. Thanks.