Of fire alarms, convict photos and unprofessional behavior

It has been brought to my attention by oh, say, about … ten trillion smart as … adoring fans that I look like a convict in my column’s photo. I wonder if it has ever occurred to these people that maybe – just maybe – I didn’t feel like smiling that day. Maybe, I had just gotten my spirit crushed by some “egomaniac.” Or maybe, I really do look like Jeffrey Dahmer…haaaaah, right!

Speaking of criminals (Dahmer, not me), I was sitting in DuSable last Tuesday when the lame buzzer NIU calls a fire alarm began to whine in the halls.

Criminal dossier one: The idiot(s) who have been setting off the fire alarms. This has happened at least twice. I would just like to say … don’t. Yeah, it gets you out of class for 15 minutes. I don’t mind an occasional break from academic elevation either, but think about what you’re doing.

A false alarm ties up the fire department of DeKalb. A fire alarm pulled in a public facility is automatically interpreted as a major fire and a full complement of shiny red trucks is usually sent racing to the site.

While a false alarm at a school is being handled, another fire could be burning out of control, or a person could die of a heart attack (an ambulance is automatically sent for a public fire alarm) that could have been helped by a tied-up paramedic crew. The fire department has no way of knowing if the alarm means DuSable has turned into the “towering inferno” or if some “wise acre” is pulling a prank.

Besides, it costs the students money every time an alarm is pulled, because the university is charged every time the fire department is falsely called upon.

Criminal dossier two: NIU administration which is responsible for safety. Fortunately, the alarm had been pulled by some callow, feebleminded, and foolish individual who thought he/she (pc) were being humorous. They now hopefully know better (as if they read this.)

However what if the fire had been real. The alarm did not sound loud enough for an elephant to recognize in a closed classroom. There are no fire instructions clearly marked in DuSable (other than exit signs). In all likelihood, a real fire would have been immediately recognized by smell and sight of smoke. It would have ensued in panic, and we all would have perished in the stairwell from hell. Perhaps some of that much- needed student fee hike would be wisely used to upgrade NIU’s fire system.

Criminal dossier three: John La Tourette on a not completely unrelated event. Wanted for criminal offense #69134913.3, otherwise known as fence sitting. During a time when NIU should be taking bold steps to improve itself (leaving the Board of Regents for one), La Tourette is being indecisive plus he’s talking trash (a lot of talk, little action).

Dr. L, even if you are undecided on the major issues, there’s a lot better ways to make a decision than pulling the DuSable fire alarms. For example: drawing straws, pulling flower petals, ‘rocks, papers, scissors,’ forming a committee, etc.

But please, even if you have to pull fire alarms, hurry up and make those decisions. Even the governor of the state pretty much called you indecisive, and scorned you for not taking the BOR issue seriously. That not only makes you look bad but NIU too.