According to Shaps, according to Ron Sutherland, the "fire" in the library this morning was just some small keypad that shorted out and started smoking. It set off the smoke detector and, for whatever reason, this required seven fire trucks, one ambulance and two cop cars.
I've counted at least 5 fire trucks and an ambulance outside of the library this afternoon. I have no idea what's happening (I just sent an e-mail to Shaps requesting more info), but this new Taylor crime thing is totally creeping me out.
It all started this past Friday when Upland's power company shut off all the electricity in the region around 1 a.m. to do some repairs. Of course, I only thought about how this affected my Echo deadline (which went fine, BTW. I think we set a record for earliest Echo submission, at least since we went to broadsheet). When 1 a.m. rolled around, I was in bed. Call me naive, but I figured the rest of the campus would turn in early as well. I couldn't have been more wrong.
When the lights went off at 1, hundreds of Taylor students poured out of the dorms. What started out as a night of fun turned into something much more sinister. The final damage report has not yet been released, but the mob apparently broke into 5 campus buildings (including my dorm), set an unauthorized bonfire outside of Olson, desecrated the nativity scene, overturned a library bookshelf, and trashed the Dining Commons. Campus safety officers (including my good friend and campus safety director Mike Row) were taunted and treated with blatant disrespect. Officers from surrounding towns of Matthews and Van Buren begged Mike over the police scanner to come up and "get those Taylor hypocrites." It was a night of shame and embarrassment for the university and the student body.
For more information on the events of the night, see this open letter from Dr. G (Taylor's president) and an article in today's Marion Chronicle-Tribune (Note its placement below an article praising IWU for helping at a nursing home. A time for humility...).
Among the felonies committed were theft, vandalism and indecent exposure. I've heard about how mobs make people do crazy things, but this is ridiculous. It's scary to be on a campus where this kind of thing takes place, especially considering the glee with which these events were carried out. Cliff has asked me to lock my bedroom door for the rest of the semester and I'm more than happy to oblige. I know I live on the third floor and the chances of me getting attacked are pretty slim, but this stuff is SERIOUS. How did this happen? What went wrong? Who was responsible? How can we stop it?
Pray for Taylor, for our administrators and our students. The story is far from over. At the moment, all I have are questions. No answers.