Wheeling Jesuit University/Campus/The Back Gate
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On one level, this is merely the yellow gate that closes off the rear entrance to Wheeling Jesuit University. However, on another level it is a potent metaphor for the War on Terror and numerous other political and historical phenomena, ranging from the Maginot Line to the Defensive Preperations of Singapore. The Back Gate was constructed sometime in the 7th century B.C., most likely as a measure to keep slaves within the penal colony of Wheeling College.
The Back Gate is a metal gate painted yellow that stretches across the rear entrance of Wheeling Jesuit University. During the day, the gate is left open to allow traffic to enter from the adjoining Currie Avenue. In the evenings, the gate is closed by a security officer.
Formerly, the gate was rarely closed. The closure-at-night policy was a result of an "Orange Alert" issued in 2002. Despite being the result of a temporary alert, University Officials decided to make the change permanent. Thus, every night, the gate is closed, reminding all within a quarter mile that lubricating metal surfaces is important with its incessant squealing. Sometime in the 2004-2005 academic year, one of the securing posts for the gate was stolen and promptly dropped into Big Wheeling Creek. No action was taken by authorities, and the security of the gate was not compromised despite this effort by extremist groups.
The Back Gate as a Metaphor for Futility
Many students have observed that even though the back gate is locked, the much larger front entrance is not. If al-Qaeda had the notion of blowing up Wheeling Jesuit University, they would drive in the front entrance like everyone else. In addition, a footbridge across Big Wheeling Creek bypasses the back gate entirely, allowing unfettered access to extremist groups bent on destruction (or at least students on the way back from the Alpha). Since the securing of the Back Gate does little except inconvenience students, many are curious as to why it is continually used. These students claim that since there are innumerable other ways to gain access to campus there is no point to locking the back gate. They see it as a metaphor for futile defensive networks that fail to cover important gaps in their perimeter, such as France's Maginot Line that missed the Ardennes forest entirely.
Students' Views of the Back Gate
Aside from the aforementioned cynics, the other view of the Back Gate is primarily as an annoyance that prevents one from returning quickly to the dormitory after a run to a local restaurant. However, the necessity of the gate is rarely questioned except by a few troublemakers.
The Secret of the Back Gate
In truth, critics of the Back Gate are short-sighted. They do not have the same secret knowledge possessed by the Administration, which is aware of the true properties of the Back Gate. One of these properties is its force-shield which has protected the campus from many a tragedy. For example, during the Flood of 2005, local communities were flooded out and swamped with mud. The campus was not touched. Some cynics might point out that the University lies on a hill and is therefore not likely to be flooded. However, these cynics do not see that this is too much of a coincidence. In reality, the Back Gate must form some type of protective barrier from hostile forces such as road salt. In addition, the critics are not aware that suicide bombers are forbidden to cross bridges. That means that they can only enter through the front gate, where they are stopped by the rapidly-deployable Golden Gates of Robert Byrd.