College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell called it “unacceptable.”
Many other folks called it words that are unprintable in this family newspaper.
“It” was the C of C’s flagrant flunking of a tense test.
Now school officials must take a refresher course in Balanced Reaction to Bomb Threats 101.
Sure, when a Tuesday morning 911 caller said bombs were in the College of Charleston’s Beatty Center and Craig Hall, the authorities had to take the alleged menace seriously.
However, that doesn’t excuse the false “Cougar Alert” from the school reporting not a bomb threat but a “bomb found.” Nor does it defuse residual aggravation about the ensuing chaos.
The debacle included a traumatizing show of police force, protracted disruption of not just classes but businesses, and a rash of unjust parking tickets on blocked-off streets.
Nearly six hours after the bomb-threat call, law enforcement officers finally cleared the scene.
McConnell cleared the air with a written statement that began: “Our emergency notification system — Cougar Alert — proved less than effective in a real-time situation. In the aftermath of today’s events, we have learned that there was a glitch in the system, programmed years ago — which resulted in our communication protocols being compromised, and the initial ‘bomb found’ message was sent out electronically in error.”
He also cited other problems with the Cougar Alert system — and asserted determination to avoid repeating the fiasco.
But to avoid more unnecessary snickering, the first change the C of C should make in the Cougar Alert system is its name.
Confirming yet another unseemly manifestation of our language’s accelerating degradation, Wikipedia offers this No. 2 definition of “cougar”:
“an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man.”
And aceshowbiz.com offers this synopsis for DVDs of “Cougar Town,” which opened in 2009 on ABC, moved to TBS in 2013 and is still airing new episodes at 10:30 on Tuesday nights:
“In a small Florida town, the center of high society is the Cougars high school football team, which is wildly appropriate since this town is the natural habitat for over-tanned, under-dressed divorcees prowling for younger men.”
So yes, the term “Cougar Alert” can be misconstrued.
OK, so Charleston isn’t a small Florida town, and C of C doesn’t have a football team. Yet. And my exhaustive research reveals that some other schools don’t have a ...
Crusader Alert (North Greenville): Does President Barack Obama, who last week cited the Crusades as evidence of “terrible deeds” by Christians, approve?
Vulcan Alert (Hawaii-Hilo): No, Mr. Spock is not an alum.
Saxon Alert (Alfred): Imagine the dread that word pairing induced 16 centuries ago in England.
Vixen Alert (Sweet Briar): Don’t jump to lecherous conclusions about the women’s college in Virginia.
Phoenix Alert (Elon): No, not in Arizona. In North Carolina. The school’s teams used to be Fighting Christians (seriously) — but not the Charleston Episcopalian-schism variety.
Seminole Alert (Florida State): But the football powerhouse hasn’t had to drop its Native American nickname or Tomahawk Chop. Yet.
Hurricane Alert (Miami): The school’s once-mighty football program ended last season 6-7 on a four-game skid capped by a loss to South Carolina in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.
Troll Alert (Trinity Christian): Social media implications abound at the Chicago area school.
General Alert (Washington and Lee): Would outrank Major Alert.
Pride Alert (Hofstra): Remember that pride goeth before a fall — and that College of Charleston teams must regularly go a long way to Long Island, N.Y., for games at Hof-stra due to the foolish decision, made before McConnell took charge, to leave the Southern Conference. The Cougars (C of C athletes, not older women on the prowl) have absurdly swapped natural, nearby league rivals (including The Citadel, Furman and Wofford) for unnatural, distant Colonial Athletic Association opponents (including Hofstra, Towson in Maryland, Drexel in Philadelphia and Northeastern in Boston).
Valkyrie Alert (Converse): That seems like a peculiar, even Wagnerian, mascot choice for the esteemed women’s college in Spartanburg.
Meanwhile, at this harried point in McConnell’s brief College of Charleston tenure, his choice to take on that tough task seems a bit odd, too.
Then again, his $300,000 salary at the C of C beats the heck out of the comparative chump change he drew as S.C. Senate president pro tem (2001-12) and lieutenant governor (2012-14).
And here’s another reason for McConnell to expedite fixes to what should be called the Campus Alert system:
Tuesday’s “bomb found” farce prompted WCSC-TV to preempt a crucial episode of “The Young and The Restless.”
That imposed a truly unacceptable hardship on us Genoa City fans eager to see what no-longer-blind Neil will do now that he can see — and now that he has seen devastating betrayal by Devon and Hilary.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.