Monday, April 9, 2012

The power of routine

Added on 4/13/2012: To those who think this is nothing, and that we are over-reacting, they have obviously never had to evacuate from a class, or a test, or worse, at 5 in the morning while they were sleeping; all of these with the alarm screeching into a panic mode in the background. Moreover, we became pawns to this prankster, while having to study for finals in two weeks. Once you've experienced that, then you can call this a joke.

I am reading all the news I can find on the recent bomb threats on my campus, and without realizing, a tear falls down my cheek. I am extremely sad, and I am definitely scared at this point.

Not unlike other students, when it first started in mid-February, we all joked that the perpetrator(s) were trying to get class cancelled because of the beautiful spring weather. Some even joked that they wish the police would find a bomb so that the school would close indefinitely. Oh, how I do not wish that to happen.

After the shooting at the Western Psychiatric Institute in March that resulted in two deaths, anxiety rose. Violence and terror on campus is real—we were fortunate that the incident happened on Spring Break. However, Rassyid and I were around when it happened; in fact, we were having lunch at a restaurant nearby when suddenly three or four police cars rushed by. Thank God for Pitt’s Emergency Notification System (ENS): we found out what happened immediately.

Since then, there have been FIFTY SEVEN bomb threats on campus. The person who is doing this is not only cruel, but he or she also lacks total empathy. People have been asked to evacuate buildings during classes, exams, even at night time when the Litchfield Tower dormitories received threats at 2 am. It is distressing.

My fear, and the fear of many, is that all these false alarms are going to culminate into something real. Personally, I am worried of our impending commencement ceremony on April 29th. Some colleagues of mine at the library have decided to not attend their own graduation ceremony because of these threats. After all, THOUSANDS of people will be at the Peterson Events Center, and God forbids, if tragedy strikes…

I am scared, I truly am… At first it was frustration, but now it is fear, especially when people kept talking about the anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre coming up on April 16th. A lot of people, including myself, are worried that a gun might make its presence on campus.

Throughout all these, professors have been asked to be flexible and accommodate students. Students have moved to off-campus housing. Many have even left campus for good this semester. Even though I understand their anxiety, I am worried that this is precisely what the terrorist(s) want. Yes, I call them terrorists because they have successfully terrorized our beautiful community into hiding.

I salute Chancellor Nordenberg for his decision to keep the school running, albeit increased security measures. As a community, Pitt students, faculty members, and employees, should continue putting up a strong front. We will not allow these sick person(s) to ruin our semester, our education, our life. If there is one thing I learned from my excellent political science education at Pitt is that we should never negotiate with terrorists or succumb to their games. We do not want to empower them to create more havoc while having a white flag flying over our heads. No, we will not allow them to take over our campus.

I may be crying now, and I may be scared to go to work in an hour, but I will rise from my couch and do it. If anything happens, at least I want to be known as someone who does not cower to fear.

May the Secret Service, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, state police, Allegheny County police, sheriff's departments and Pittsburgh Police get their hands on this culprit soon so that Pitt can resume its title as one of the safest campuses in the nation.

Hail to Pitt!



salwan said...

syaz, i pray that you, rassyid, and everyone out there who are staying in pitt will be just fine. insyaAllah, everything will go back to normal, hopefully very soon. read Al-Quran, make Zikir as your best friend. insyaAllah, we will always pray for your safety.


Syaza said...

Thank you salwan, your support is tremendously appreciated! Thanks again! :)