A University of North Dakota (UND) professor has vowed to call the police on ROTC rifle drills, claiming that the program is a “physical attack” on campus. The professor, Heidi Czerwiec, detailed her complaint in an open letter published by the Grand Forks Herald.
She describes the ROTC rifle drills like a school shooting or terrorist attack. “I look up from my office computer to see two figures in camo with guns outside my window,” writes Czerwiec. “My first thought is for my students’ and my safety: I grab my phone, crawl under my desk and call 911.”
Emergency responders informed Czerwiec that she could be describing ROTC cadets, although authorities were dispatched to verify that no crimes were ongoing. Responders also verified that the student activities were planned and scheduled.
Czerwiec said she was filled with “fear” and “rage” when the emergency dispatcher explained that what she was looking at could be normal student activity. According to Campus Reform, UND announced the ROTC program through regular channels leading up to the drills including staff notifications.
University police reprimanded Czerwiec for calling 911 and that the students had permission to drill on campus.
Following the letter the university has announced that they will now make campus-wide notifications before every ROTC drill and personally contact Czerwiec before every ROTC meeting. Czerwiec has pledged to call the police every time the students meet for drill practice just the same.
“I guess I’ll be calling 911 for the next couple weeks,” writes Czerwiec. “Every time.
“It’s not my job to decide whether people carrying guns at school are an actual threat. It’s my job to teach and to get home to my family.
“It’s already highly inappropriate to conduct unnecessary military maneuvers in the middle of the quad. But with school shootings on the increase and tensions at UND running high, it’s especially irresponsible.”
ROTC and its high school sister program, JROTC, are popular with primary and secondary education students across the country. Many campuses maintain riflery programs associated with ROTC in addition to drilling, and for many students, they offer a smooth way to transition into military service.
Calling the police on such drills, knowing that they are regular student activities, can constitute a crime in many parts of the country. In North Dakota, false statements to security officials may be treated as class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $3,000 in fines.