All Is Quiet

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?

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4 Responses to All Is Quiet

  1. Actually there is a cop assigned to protecting one of the buildings I work in, and he worries me – it would be convenient for me to work there late, when not a lot of people are around, but I do not feel safe with that cop around, and he’s heavily armed and has keys to all the doors.

  2. G Bitch says:

    The downside to campus security. When I was an undergrad, my University had a ROTC escort service. It quickly fell out of favor because the escorts made aggressive, sometimes scary passes and were, of course, walking you back to your dorm or not-too-far-off-campus apartment, perfect stalking fuel.

  3. Wow is right. I frequently am on my (academic medicine/research hospital) campus in the wee hours, alone in my office. While my colleagues and I frequently complain that response time from security is insanely slow (although I only ever call them when I lock myself out of my office or something stupider and even less urgent), I always feel safe when they’re around, and yall are making me appreciate them even more. I’m on a first-name basis with the night cleaning crew as well, and they and the security guards are pretty uniformly pleasant and competent, if too few in number to respond quickly on our large-ish campus.

    I work in a restricted-access building with tons of research gear & dangerous chemicals — and yes, lab animals — in my building and others nearby, and the security here is better than in other similar places I’ve worked or studied.

    I don’t generally request security escorts, mainly because I don’t have a car and am not walking to the parking lot, but I’ve never heard any reports of anything icky going on from my colleagues who do (and many do, because of a recent spate of armed robberies in one of the parking lots). I live within a short walk, but I take a cab if it’s late or pouring rain. Once in a blue moon I’ll get a cab driver who freaks me out to the point where I have them drop me off at the house across the street because I don’t want them to know a) where I live or b) that there’s no one home but me. Much better they think I’m going to the perpetual party with the kids across the street.

Comments welcomed. Really.