Hi, everyone. It’s been a day, at the end of a heck of a year.
As many of you know, I take at least one class per semester at UNLV. This semester’s class is particularly wonderful. It’s called “Gay Plays” and it’s about the history of queer theater, told through plays over the last 100 years. Tomorrow was supposed to be our last class before finals.
There will be no last class, and maybe not an in-person final either. Some asshole came to campus today and opened fire. Fortunately, I wasn’t there, and even more fortunately, I’ve heard from all but a handful of the people I know and care about. They’re fine.
Three people are dead, and one injured. The shooter was killed before he opened fire on a group of students having a Lego contest outside of the student union. People sheltered in place from 11:45 a.m when the first alert went out (which I got on my phone as well), some until 7:30 tonight, as they waited for police to clear the buildings.
We’re getting updates from the President of the university, and our profs (who are as shaken as the rest of us). I’m in the theater department, and I love those kids. Their optimism and good humor and sheer intelligence has made being on campus a joy this semester. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that they made it through the day. We’ll see how they continue to do.
I grew up on college campuses. My father was the chair of the math department at three different universities during my lifetime. Campuses are my safe space, which is one reason I’m at UNLV. I love the atmosphere on campus.
I was thinking of that just yesterday as the classes this semester were winding down. I knew I was going to miss being on campus for the next six weeks. UNLV is still a young school (founded in 1957) and still has young school habits, like closing the dorms and the student union during semester breaks. So I knew that I wasn’t heading back after finals until classes started again in January.
Which makes today all the more strange. Because that asshole had a psychotic break or whatever caused him to bring a weapon onto campus and murder people, we’re all dealing with a day we hadn’t expected. Not just on campus, but in the community.
UNLV is next to the airport. When they were built, they were at the edge of town. Now they’re in the center, right near the south part of the Strip. The airport shut down. The Strip shut down. I-15 shut down to accommodate emergency vehicles. Streets in our neighborhood downtown shut down to keep the roads open for ambulances for a mass casualty event. All of the Nevada higher education schools across the state went into lockdown before shutting down as well.
People had to abandon their cars on campus, their backpacks and purses, their phones. There is a recovery center at the Convention Center, as well as at the Thomas & Mack where the National Rodeo Finals were supposed to start tomorrow.
They won’t. Not right away. Because some asshole decided to destroy people and someone sold him a weapon to do so.
Am I okay? No, of course not. But I’m going to be fine. I wasn’t there, my friends and acquaintances are okay, and the school will recover. It’s already working to repair the damage that evil human caused.
I heard from a lot of you today. Thank you. The support means a lot. It’s been a tough day. But this community is strong and resilient and sadly, knows how to handle this kind of tragedy.
I’ll be back, posting about fun stuff soon. But tonight, I’m going to sit in my lovely office overlooking this marvelous city, and deal with all the complicated emotions.