The shootings at VA Tech are appalling and really have rattled universities across the country and those who work and study at them, including me (yes, 2 shivers in the same year). Complaints were made and concerns voiced about Cho Seung Hui but nothing could really be done. Not until he directly threatened or hurt someone. And that part chilled, because it is so familiar when you are in a classroom.
The student who creeps everyone out or who stalks you at your office or claims you know his dreams–often, you’re left standing alone. You can, like Lucinda Roy, notify everyone up and down the administrative and counseling chain but no one can force an adult who is not an obvious danger to himself or someone else to take medication, be committed or go to counseling. And if you want the student to get help, rather than be provided security–poet Nikki Giovanni refused security after voicing concerns about the student and the emptying effect he had on her class–no one can really help you that much.
My office has one door, no window. I can, though, hear everything in the hall with the door closed and nothing from the outside indicates I’m in my office.
Who’s responsible for protecting you when you are on a campus and what does that mean? In a community made small by sharing a campus, teachers, dorms, daily or twice-weekly pathways, what happens when someone starts to slowly, or not so slowly, lose his or her mind? How do you know which of those deteriorating will take others with him or her?
photo © Michael Jastremski for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike