As I write this post, I’m listening to the live MTSU press conference stream on Nashville is Talking. University Police Chief Buddy Peaster states classes were cancelled due to a threatening email & a few small fires in the past two days. The email did not threaten anyone specifically; instead, it was stating general “damage & destruction.” Cancellation was deemed to be the safest option for students (considering events such as Virgina Tech).

Students were notified via email and text alerts but some students have already raised a concern: they didn’t get the emergency text message. My former advisor–actually, he’s still the current advisor–at Sidelines sent a few Tweets about the cancellation this morning. It picked up on Twitter, especially since there are a quite a few former students and local newspeople in the Nashville/Murfreesboro Twitterstream. In fact, here is a feed for “MTSU” on Twitter.

Honestly, I’m rather unsure about this conference. Peaster is somewhat prepared but there still are too many unanswered questions or questions “answered” in a roundabout way. I do wish I still could write for Sidelines; I would love to be the one poking around, asking questions of Peaster, Tozier and other admins on campus. Apparently Tom Tozer, the University’s spokesperson, is out of the office until next week and no one was designated the official talking head while Tozer is away.

The press conference is now over but you can see the WKRN News 2 coverage w/ anchor Bob Mueller (‘stache power!) @ 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thanks goes to @thegrammarnazi & @nitweet for the updates and live feed!

BTW, here is the official email sent out to faculty, staff and students at MTSU:

To:                   MTSU Faculty, Staff and Students
Subject:            Class Cancellation
A credible threat to our campus has been made. As a result, as of noon today, classes will be cancelled for the remainder of the week. Campus Police, in cooperation with local and state law enforcement officials, are actively investigating the situation, which involves a series of threatening emails and suspicious fires.
During this time, campus security will be increased. University offices will maintain normal business hours and other campus events will go on as scheduled. Following our regularly scheduled fall break, classes will resume on Wednesday, October 15. Employees are encouraged to report any unusual or suspicious activity to Campus Police. More information will be provided on the MTSU home page as details become available.
Sidney A. McPhee
Middle Tennessee State University


Update: WKRN’s 4 p.m. news on the telly. Whoops, the reporter John Dwyer threw the video jump as “Sidney McPhee,” but it’s Buddy Teaster. Oh well, mistakes happen, especially with live television. And he apologized, so it’s okay. My favorite quote from the video clips: “Well, I feel safe because of all the cops here and stuff.” The only thing I can say to that is, even with University Police and then our city & county police force, crazy events happen–you can either be scared & hide or you can just stay alert and roll with it.

In 2003, a student was held up in his room @ Cummings Dorm the week before spring finals. My understanding, as it happened on the fifth floor & I was on the third during this event, was the young man was actually injured due to pistol-whipping. That tidbit was relayed to me by a friend who lived next door to the victim in the dorms.

There was a fight over a Bell Street parking spot between two ladies. One lady had a “bladed instrument” and the other lady left the fight with “cuts on her head, shoulder and arm.”

WHAT THE HELL?! Parking isn’t that bad! There are plenty of parking spots; just park and effin WALK! Forgo the Raider Express, just walk from wherever you parked, even if it is the Rutherford Blvd lot across from campus. Get some exercise, fresh air, say hi to people as you pass, avoid the squirrels in Peck Forest…it’s not hard.

Read more @ Nashville is Talking: ‘Cat fight at MTSU over parking space’

I’m rather disturbed by this event. Should my alumni dollars should go towards road/parking rage management classes or towards more ‘convenient’ parking lots? It’s a toss-up.

Approximately 30 University of Tennessee Chattanooga students are starting the semester chillin’ at the Holiday Inn Days Inn. Of course, this is not by choice but because officials at UTC “overbooked” on-campus housing, according to the Chattanooga Times Free-Press article (8/5).

Officials notified 150 students its 2,801 beds were booked in late June. Overbooking is an “industry standard” according to Chuck Cantrell, assistant vice chancellor for university relations. He goes on to state one to two percent of students who have registered for on-campus housing will fail to show for their room; overbooking prevents an empty bed or a really large single room.

UTC will be providing the students with shuttle service from the Carter Street location to campus everyday. The same on-campus housing “rules” will allegedly apply in the hotel for the students. Officials and students are hoping the lack of housing will be resolved before too long; some students may opt for off-campus housing.

Now you have been briefed. How the hell do they expect to completely enforce the housing rules? I lived in the dorms at MTSU from 2002-04; rules were sort of not really enforced in the on-campus housing. Will UTC post a dorm mother drill sargeant RA right by the hotel room? An eco-related query: why don’t they walk to class from the dorm? I’ve been to Chatty many times and I walk everywhere in the downtown area, which is not far from UTC (see below map).

Save some gas and pollution, get some exercise–WALK if it is nice outside. Besides, traffic is not fun, especially in a shuttle. Everytime I used a shuttle or bus, I was always late.

And something slightly off topic: Why couldn’t MTSU do the same thing when 387 students from the Reynolds/Monahan/Schardt complex, which had an electricial fire, were displaced in October 2003? Instead, we were corralled like cattle into the Rec Center or forced to sleep on friends’ couches (which I chose).  Granted, there were 10 times more students displaced at MTSU than at UTC, but the Rec Center is not the place to send people. Try “overbooking” the dorms. The property claims were denied by the State of Tennessee Division of Claims because MTSU was “not responsible” for the electrical fire that started in their basement! Sorry, had to rant for a moment. As an alumnus, I get aggravated by MTSU’s bone-headedness sometimes. My donations at work, folks.

In the spirit of “dorm-less” students, I’ve found the 2003 email I sent to friends & family when I was out of a place to stay. Read below if you wish. Yes, I know I mention driving to class below; it was a mile and a half from the place I was at to school, rather than the 0.8 mile for the Chatty situation.

Homelessness in America’s…college campuses?!

Homelessness is a concern here in the United States of America. There are many reasons an individual may become homeless: loss of job, bad luck, drug problems, or even house fires. But now the problem has spread to the college campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

387 students living in the Monohan Complex, a dormitory consisting of two-thirds male (Monohan and Schardt dorms) and one-third female (Reynolds), were evacuated from their living quarters at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 8. The reason? An electrical fire had occured in the basement of Reynolds Hall around 10 p.m., causing the power to go out around 10:15 p.m. (credited to Kristin Hall, news editor of Sidelines). Students were evacuated and were told to relocate themselves for the night, whether it be with friends or family, or through one of the school’s temporary assignments (Rec Center, another dorm room, the James Union Building, a spare classroom).

At a meeting held by Sarah Sudak on Thursday, she informed the displaced students that the state fire marshal insisted the dormitory be shut down until the problem was fixed. So once again, these same 387 students were scrambling to be escorted to their very acrid smelling floor to retrieve enough essential belongings to get them through the weekend. The original hope was to be able to move back in the dorm on Monday, but a meeting was held today to inform the students that a second problem (emergency lights’ batteries were out and therefore a hazard) would have to be attended to before re-occupation. So it is another night of homelessness, albeit temporary, once again for the students.

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Reynolds Hall, third floor to be exact. I have been sleeping on my wonderful friend and co-worker Joe’s couch in his apartment three minutes from campus since Wednesday night. I am highly irate about this situation and I will be filing a complaint with the human resources department to demand reimbursement for the cleaning of my belongings (they smell terrible), the $35 worth of groceries that has now rotted in my fridge due to the power outtage, and hopefully the gas money I have had to burn up just driving from Sterling Gables Apartments to campus. I have used more gas driving back and forth to the school for class and those damn “informational” meetings than I did when I drove to work on Friday and Sunday. I love Joe and his roommates to death, they are very kind to allow me to stay with them, but the couch does not make up for a bed that I can strech out in and relax when I sleep.

The only thing left to do is wait, but I do have one lingering question that no one has asked and I wonder if the school would answer: This dorm just under went renovations that were finished this summer, so how the hell did this happen? Should there have been a thorough inspection of the builiding before students were allowed to move in August? I think so.