The War on Campus

In August 2016, students at the University of Texas will be allowed to carry handguns on campus. The first time I saw this headline by Meagan Day, I thought I was reading dystopian fiction.

Since it was not fiction, I decided to write my own.

The War on Campus

The student ambassador warned us about fields of fire and choke points. She pointed out the refuge rooms and encouraged us to keep our guns close at all times on campus.

“Police response times can be as long as thirty minutes,” said the girl. “By that time, it can be an all out student war. They tend to wait for it to die down a bit and then arrest the winning team.” She pointed to a poster that said, The best defense is a good offense.

“Just remember the rules of engagement. Shoot only in self defense. Try not to fire on neutrals, and remember that pulling a weapon makes you a target as well. Is anyone staying in the dorm accommodation?”

I raised my hand.

“Watch out for the blood feud between the Kryptonite Crew and Sauron’s Angels. Steer clear of the hot zones on this map.”

I finished the induction and went to find the seminar on Survival Strategies for People of Colour. The path led me across the grassy commons, which was filled with the colourful banners of gun sellers and clan recruitment tents. A boy with a limp handed me a flyer.

“Hey, my name is Rick,” he said.

“Nina,” I shook his hand.

He asked me what I was studying, and I said history.

“We could use a little Napoleon and Sun-Tzu around here,” he said. “Pacific Strikers is the biggest clan on campus. We run paintball drills twice a month. Are you interested?”

“I’ll think about it,” I replied.

“”I thought I could go it solo in my first year,” he volunteered. “But I took an arrow to the knee. Don’t think about it too long.” He limped away.

I went on my way to the seminar. I arrived late and sat in the back of the theatre. The speaker was a grey-haired African-American professor. He lectured from behind a bulletproof glass screen.

“Ninety seven percent of our students survive to graduation,” he held up a hand and waited for the applause to finish. “But for people of colour, the numbers are much worse. We have a real problem; not with student shootings, but with police shootings. I just cannot stress this enough. Never, ever be holding a weapon when the police arrive.

“I suggest you start the year by buying a yellow gun sleeve at the college bookshop,” he held up a sample. “These were crowdfunded by some of our own students to help police differentiate between shooters and defenders. They could save your life.”

At the end of the seminar he welcomed us to the front lines, and wished us good luck in pursuing our education. Filing out of the theatre, my eyes landed on the safety cabinet next to the fire alarm. It said, In case of shooter, break glass. I glanced up at the cctv cameras and wondered if the psych profiling algorithms had just added me to a watchlist.

But then again, who cared? I was armed and dangerous, as is my right. And history is written by the survivors.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.