The Baltimore Sun reports this morning that the University of Maryland Eastern Shore is spending $60,000 to purchase bulletproof whiteboards for faculty, for protection in the event of an attack by a gunman.*
The theory is that in the event of such an attack, the professor plucks the 18-by-20-inch whiteboard from its hook as a shield from gunfire. George Tunis of Hardwire LLC, which makes and sells the whiteboards, "envisions teachers using the whiteboards to fend off attackers individually or as a group, standing side-by-side to create a wall that could shield evacuating students or to fend off an attacker."
I doubt that those 18-by-20-inch panels will offer the same kind of protection as, say, the shields of the hoplites advancing side by side on the plains of Marathon, particularly if the assailant is armed with anything more advanced than a flintlock, but, hey, it's the university's money to spend, or rather, its foundation's money. Better that it should go for security than be wasted on things like pay for adjunct faculty.
(Hardwire, incidentally, has a previous association with UMES: "Hardwire first hooked up with UMES in 2004, when a school foundation invested in the company with a $250,000 loan. Later, it granted Hardwire a $500,000 loan, both of which have since been paid back." So I will understand if you are cynical enough to surmise that a little back-scratching is going on here.)
Classes resume at Loyola University Maryland the first week of September,** and I will march into my classroom without apprehension. If no one has taken a shot at me in eighteen years, the hazard seems safely remote.
*I am not making this up, you know.
**Fourteen undergraduates have signed up for my copy editing course, and none have dropped it, even though I have sent all of them the syllabus by email.
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