Sunday, January 19

Campus lockdown disrupts final exams, class presentations

Students continue schoolwork in Kerckhoff Coffee House during the campus lockdown on Wednesday morning. Some professors maintained their finals schedules despite the emergency and opposition from students. (Angie Wang/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Correction: The original article incorrectly stated Shannon Wheeler's last name as Wilson.

A student stood up in class Wednesday morning to protest the professor who continued to lecture during the campus shooting.

“I don’t think you’re taking this seriously,” the student said, according to a classmate. “People’s lives are in danger and we’re just sitting here in class.”

The classmate, second-year physiological science student Erika Monasch, said her professor yelled at students for having their phones out during class, and told them not to believe what they were reading online.

Some students said the campus lockdown highlighted the need for better understanding of emergency procedures.

At 10 a.m., students received a BruinAlert that reported an active shooter on campus and advised them to stay inside. All classrooms, campus buildings and residence halls went into lockdown.

READ MORE: Full coverage of the Wednesday’s murder-suicide, campus reactions

However, many professors continued teaching and holding finals.

Melissa Platero, a fourth-year political science student, said her friend texted her in disbelief that her professor asked students to leave their shelter for an exam.

In an email, statistics lecturer Vivian Lew said students still had to take their online final at either 11 a.m. or 1 p.m.

“So leave this area if you are in (it) and find a computer,” Lew said in the email.

The email was sent 15 minutes into the lockdown, Platero said. A few hours later, Lew sent another email excusing students who were not able to take the final.

“We assume our number one priority should be our education, and that’s relatively correct,” Platero said. “But if your first thought after a school shooting is … ‘How am I going to study for my final today?’ that’s (a problem).”

She added she thinks taking finals should not be a concern for students in a dangerous situation like a school shooting.

Statistics department chair Mark Handock wrote a statement defending Lew, who he said is one of the department’s best professors.

In the statement, Handock said Lew sent the email before being aware of the specifics of the shooting. She later apologized to students for her email.

Lara Jhaveri, a third-year French and global studies student, said she was about to begin a presentation in her class in Dodd Hall when students started receiving BruinAlert messages about the active shooter. She added her professor told her and her partner to continue with the presentation, which made her feel unsafe.

“I had to continue a presentation while (an active shooter situation) was going on,” Jhaveri said. “I was on the verge of tears.”

Other students said they think their professors’ lack of familiarity with safety protocol was upsetting.

Shannon Wheeler, a first-year political science and international development studies student, said she thinks her professor was unfamiliar with proper lockdown procedures.

“She thought it was acceptable to just close the blinds and continue teaching with lights and microphone,” Wheeler said. “That could have alerted someone outside the door that there’s a classroom full of students, and that’s a big red flag.”

Other teachers addressed the BruinAlert messages promptly and canceled their teaching plans for the day, said some students. Officials later canceled all classes.

Graciela Ignacio, a third-year biology student, said her art history professor, Bronwen Wilson, moved students to a safer place immediately after the BruinAlert messages.

The class, which was taking their final on the first floor of Dodd Hall, evacuated to the third floor and blocked the door with chairs, Ignacio said.

Wilson told students she was more concerned about their safety than the final.

“I was terrified … on top of being really stressed out after taking a final,” Ignacio said. “But I was really happy with what (professor Wilson) did.”

Jacco Dieleman, a professor of Near Eastern languages and cultures, said he was in his office when the shooting took place. He immediately emailed his students to tell them class was canceled.

“In a sense (canceling class) deprives them of a chance to learn, but in this situation it was out of the question,” Dieleman said.

James Bondurant, student affairs officer and instructional manager for the political science department, said while there is currently no official policy in place for rescheduling finals, extreme situations should allow exceptions.

Janel Munguia, student affairs commissioner for the English department, said the English department also does not have a policy in place for missed exams.

She added it would be up to the individual professors within the department to determine plans for rescheduling finals.

Other department heads were not available for comment.

Contributing reports by Lydiette DeJesus, Andrea Henthorn and Laurel Scott, Daily Bruin staff.

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  • Lynette Hawkins

    A final or presentation should never be more important than a persons life! What I am reading here from the students is that many professors need to take classes in emergency preparedness and lock down procedures. Maybe a class or two in compassion and common sense. Can you teach common sense? My prayers are with Professor Klugs’ family, and the entire Bruin family.My son was in that building today. My heart breaks for all of you.

  • Darren

    I am in the class that Prof. Lew had the sent the email to, and that screenshot that has been shared was certainly blown out of proportion. I agree that the wording of that sentence was bizarre, but it was taken out of context. It is important to note that her email was sent earlier when the situation was not yet confirmed, and that the final was actually a lab portion that had to be taken within a certain time (that is how statistics programming classes are structured) at the statistics lab (which is in Boelter). Because of this, she made it known to stay away from the lab and that the lab could be done from any location – which was understandable since the severity of the situation was not yet known. As noted above, she later sent out an email to apologize and cancel the entire lab portion of the final. She sent another long email later at night to explain her actions and apologize. Professor Vivian Lew is one of the most caring professors I have EVER seen at UCLA, and it is a shame that a body of text that was certainly taken out of context and used as an example to ‘shame’ professors was used to tarnish her reputation. I agree that some professors here definitely fall in this category of ‘showing no regard for students’, but she is definitely not one of them.

    • Zanther

      I agree that she is probably a great professor and great person AND that she doesn’t receive the negative shame/attention she is getting. Obviously there was a lot of confusion about everything.

      However, she specifically told students to disregard an emergency procedure and LEAVE an area during a lockdown of that area. Not acceptable. Criticisms on that point are valid. But again, the level of negativity she’s getting is also horrible. I can only imagine how she feels about it all. Awful I’m sure.

  • molerat
  • matt10023

    Looks like this was blown out of proportion and misrepresented by the students. Ah…. feelings. Those trump the facts, responsibility, and intelligence. I wish I could tell the IRS that taxes make me feel unsafe and not pay them….

    • Mengles

      Blown out of proportion? An active shooting situation? Are you crazy?

      • Zanther

        No active shooter. I murder suicide. Over almost as soon as it started. The rest was just lockdown for police activity for a shooting that was already over.

  • Zoe Zhan

    Dear those who have read about the post about professor (VL) and have made unfair opinions about this professor,

    I understand that this post may seem callous at first glance, but if you knew this professor like the rest of her students; you would know that this professor would never want her students to risk their lives for the sake of a final.

    This e-mail was posted at 10:09 a.m. when most of us were unaware of the severity of the issue. In fact, from many of the interviews, many were not even sure if it was the real thing or just a drill. It is irresponsible for any of us to make any sort of judgments for this professor without knowing the full story. One of the professor’s jobs is to keep the school functional. Understanding that those students who were about to take the 11AM final would be confused about the current situation, she offered some flexible options. I feel she sent this e-mail as a courtesy to those about to take the exams, not as an order to continue with examinations disregarding all potential danger. When this professor realized the severity of the event, she immediately postponed all tests to Friday.

    I have nothing but the upmost respect for this Professor. Not only is she excellent in her field, she is also a very caring professor. If you have taken any of her classes, you will find her as one of the most kind, nice and helpful professors who really care about her students both academically and mentally. I feel that UCLA is my home away from home because of her. We, Bruins, are family. Today’s tragedy will be etched into our memories. I feel deeply upset seeing us turning against each other with hateful posts, especially about such a wonderful professor. If you have already shared the original post, I sincerely hope you could reconsider and take down it before it leads to any more misunderstanding.

    As a proud Bruin, we should stand together and be responsible for what we do and what we say.

    Thank you,

    Zoe Zhan

  • Caterina

    Will the Daily Bruin, or other ‘authorities’ associated with these warnings, be issuing a racial apology to white guys for erroneously announcing the shooter was a white guy? Or does racial sensitivity only extent to non-whites?

    • Zanther

      It doesn’t apply to color. It applies to groups that are already marginalized and excluded because of their specific color. Basic concept.

  • Caterina

    Will the Daily Bruin, or other ‘authorities’ associated with these warnings, be issuing a racial apology to white guys for erroneously announcing the shooter was a white guy? Or does racial sensitivity only extent to non-whites?