On October 7, a student was arrested at the University of Louisville after pulling a gun at a meeting with faculty. Luckily no one was hurt, but it’s not the first gun-related incident on a U.S. campus in recent memory (remember Virginia Tech in 2007?), or even the first one this academic year. In September, a gunman at the University of Texas fired shots before taking his own life.
Our bloggers talk about whether it’s something they worried about before coming here, how the situation compares to back home, and what their schools do to keep them safe. What do you think? Is gun-related violence on campus more of a concern in the US than elsewhere? Is it something you would worry about? What should campuses be doing to prevent it? Weigh in using the comments or on Facebook.
Shootings in high schools and colleges are unfortunately very “American” things in my mind. Maybe it’s because of the media coverage, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard of such tragic incidents with such regularity in other parts of the world.
The student life can definitely be stressful. That’s true everywhere. Violence and suicides are common for the young and impulsive burdened with peer pressure or family pressure, or perhaps other social or financial difficulties. In the US, though, access to weapons seems to be much easier, more widespread and even more acceptable, so that’s probably a key factor in the frequency of gun-related incidents.
I study at a small college, where we all know each other. That makes me feel pretty secure. If a student shows worrisome tendencies, they usually become clear to those around him, who can hopefully take responsible measures. I am an RA (resident advisor) on campus, so that motivates me to be additionally aware of my fellow students and their emotional states. It can be tough all right, but we need to be there for each other.
America’s crime rate is way higher than that of my home country, Zimbabwe, and this fact alone, compounded by what I saw in the movies made me very nervous about my move to America. Yes, there are a lot of crimes that have taken place around me but their number is offset by the number of measures that my school (Yale University) has put in place to protect me and everyone enrolled within it.
Yale provides a 24 hour daily shuttle service that is just a phone call away. Whether I’m coming from a failed attempt to pull off an all-nighter (all-night study)in the library or from a failed attempt to crash a frat party, they’ll come pick me up. If instead I chose to walk, I can call the Yale Escort Service and after a wait of under 10 minutes, an escort will take me to my room. This is not to say that walking alone at night is not perfectly possible. There are also always security officers on patrol on campus even during the day!
Thanks to Yale, life insurance is the last thing on my mind. It is the my responsibility to keep myself safe and to respect the safety of others.
There is a shadow lurking on American schools; last couple of weeks there been at least three suicides or suicides attempts – in addition to the situation at the University of Louisville, there was Tyler Clementi, an 18 year old freshman at Rutgers University who jumped from a bridge after being bullied by his roommate and other people for his sexual preferences (he was gay). and even a more violent incident happened in University of Texas last days of September when a 19 year old sophomore, used an AK-47 rifle to shoot around the school and ended up killing himself. His motivations are still unknown, but investigators think that it has to do with low self-esteem and feeling like social outcasts.
This is a big social problem, but a lot of colleges are working on it. For example, in the University of Kansas they have two advising offices, one only for academic issues and other for any social distress the students have. Other important action they’re taking part in is enforcing security policies for these cases, as the Texas and Louisville universities cases shows. For an international student this can be scary. At least in my country we didn’t have this kind of disturbances in college. Anyway, is good to know that people are working on it, and these last three cases are already making an impact by taking attention in the media; hopefully, for a good cause.