Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Houston, we have a problem

UL Lafayette physics instructor has exothermic reaction

From the 1999-2000 UL yearbook Posted by Hello
(Written by my good friend Cheramie Richard)

The Advertiser reports, however vaguely:

An associate professor of physics, Louis Houston, was being questioned by the University Police on Wednesday afternoon. A bomb dog from Fort Polk was brought in to check for explosives, although police described the move as a precaution rather than a response to a specific threat. Police allowed students to return to the hall when the search was complete.

University Police were called to Broussard Hall, the site of physics classes, sometime after 9 a.m. Julie Dronet, a university spokeswoman, said students reported that a physics instructor was exhibiting "erratic and strange" behavior.

The Manning Report guy (I think his name is Jonathan) and phizz have offered some rumors on the previous post commentary. They might hold weight, because they attend the same school as I do (or at least have connections to that school). We'll know more as the reporting comes out. I just heard about it tonight; I don't have classes on Wednesday so I stayed home and slept most of the day. Over six-and-a-half years at UL, I have developed an uncanny tendency to miss all of the crazy events that happen there. It's a good thing, to be sure, but at the same time I'm still one of those people that likes to witness things.

I can't say I know Louis Houston, though I often pass by him on campus. His office door has a poster of Xena and her sidekick on it, with a funny caption along the lines of "Fight the Power." By all accounts he is a likeable guy with a great rapport with his students. Whenever I see him he's walking and chatting with one of his students. To a casual observer, he looks more like a student than a longtime instructor. Not only does he teach physics, but he's also well-known in the Lafayette club scene as a first-rate guitarist. He's even cut a CD.

I hope that this incident is more like the Martin Lawrence exhaustion incident than a deliberately malicious situation. I'll have more on this as it develops.

UPDATE at 10:00 a.m.: according to The Advocate, Houston did the following in his class Wednesday:

--Began shouting obscenities early in the hour
--Wrote "9/11=Now" on the board and threatened the class if they didn't stay seated
--Slapped a student (some sources say on the arm) and said he was God

Depending on the account, he also reportedly locked himself in his office and said he had a bomb. At the same time, another report says that an EMT taking the class managed to calm Houston
down enough for him to finish the class session. Only after the class did anyone report the incident to the University Police. Evidently, there is still much to learn.

Update at 1:02 a.m.: Yahoo! We're famous!! (Thanks to Zac for the link)


Houston said...

You know he and I aren't related, don't you? I am called Houston because my ggggreat-uncle served as General Sam Houston's aide during the Texas War of Independence against Mexico. Therefore, Houston is a first name (in honor of, only in my case a middle name) rather than a family name. Since I just invited myself to be your best friend and fight your fights, I thought I should distinguish myself from other characters whose presence would only confuse the gentle reader.

jetbanana said...

I read an article on that a student of Houston's from a prior semester began recording his classes because of problems with this instructor. Said other students were afraid for their lives. The student complained to his dean but evidently nothing was done about it. Scary.

Ian McGibboney said...

I heard that on the radio this morning. The tape recordings must have been made in secret, then, because 1)Houston having known about it would have defeated the purpose and 2)recording class sessions is heavily frowned upon in virtually all classes. I had never heard anything about these incidents, not even from friends of mine who took his class. I wonder about their validity because they're coming to light only now.

As I said, I don't know the guy personally, I just had the impression from others that he was a decent guy. I'm not informed enough yet to pass judgment on him. Fast Eddie and Deb on the KQIS morning show were laughing about how he has a padded room waiting for him, if he doesn't go to prison. I thought that was pretty smug, considering that no charges have yet been filed and the university has yet to announce anything about his employment status. All we do know is that he has been banned from campus for the moment. Can't we at least wait until we know more to trash the guy?

jetbanana said...

Well, I was a teacher in another life and as I jokingly say now, schools wouldn't have to worry about kids bringing guns to school, they would have to worry about my doing it. (Of course, that's high school, and don't get me started on what some kids in HS get away with today.)

If this were a woman, she could get away with "bad case of PMS." At the very least, if what is being said is true, this guy needs some serious anger management classes. One student interviewed on TV said Houston threatened them and they feared for their lives. There is no place for that in any classroom (except maybe juvie hall.) It doesn't sound like student fabrication or exaggeration, but if it is, well, the students deserve to be dimissed from UL.

Nick said...

Houston played the guitar at Posidens (Greek food place in Lafayette). I go there quite a bit since one of my good friends/insurance agent works there. I've sat down and talked to Houston a few times before. He always seemed like a nice guy.

That said, for actions like that, he needs to be locked somewhere for a little while for pulling shit like that.

Nick said...

Also, Icon:

Tune into my site where a still do a post once in a blue moon. Later this evening, I will do a post on O'Reilly's latest actions, or alleged actions.

The Manning Report said...

Heres a little Manning Report Exclusive. I usually have to wait an hour for my math class to start, and today the physics class that Houston blew up on was in there getting counseling. I saw just about every dean possible in that room. Even Dean Pratt. I never seen that many suits in Maxim Doucet before. They told the class "to be confidential" in what they told the media. I even heard one lady refer to the incident as Dr. Houston "losing control of the class." One unfortunate fellow had been sick all week and showed up and didn't even know what happened. They said that Houston has been permanetly banned from the campus and they met their new teacher today. It got quite emotional for some people as they started crying and went to the bathroom.

Murph said...

I also read that he threatened to kill anyone who got up and left, which is much less civil than "threatened them if they didn't stay seated." Of course, if he had threatened to flunk them, he would have probably gotten their undivided attention, although he did manage to get them to stay for the entire class, which I find funniest of all. (BTW, Life Goes Off is back on again).

Ian McGibboney said...

I tried to err on the safe side about the confrontation because I didn't witness the incident. And because UL is continuing its long-standing media policy of "ignore it and it will go away," we still don't know jack.

Houston clearly needs counseling and perhaps a limited stay in a mental-health facility. But we owe society to attempt to rehabilitate this man. Remember, he might be gone from UL, but he's still got to be somewhere. For his sake and everyone else's, he should be made safe for society.