Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas have thousands of miles and differences between them. But during the week of Jan. 20 they all experienced the same tragedies. Gun shots. Running. Hiding. Lockdowns. How could three campuses so different from one another all have the same fears?
Widener University in Chester, Pa., began a mundane Monday of classes expecting nothing different from the week before. A single gunshot was fired that night in the athletic parking lot of the school and the gunman fled, according to the Huffington Post. Police believe it was an isolated incident and placed the campus on lockdown until six the next morning. The victim called 911 himself and was taken to the hospital in critical but stable condition.
Tuesday as Widener students were resuming classes on campus, the scene at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., began as usual until Cody Cousins, 23, shot and killed fellow student Andrew Boldt, 21, in the university’s electrical engineering building.
Cousins was arrested and booked on preliminary charges of murder, according to CNN. This appeared to be an isolated and intentional event. “Violent crime, whenever and wherever it occurs, shocks our conscience and incites our rage,” said Mitch Daniels, Purdue’s president and former governor of the state.
Lone Star College’s North Harris campus was shaken up the same day when two men started an argument and shots were fired. Three people were wounded, including a maintenance worker, during the argument.
When the campus went into a lockdown, a teacher burst into a math classroom and announced the shooting. A 23-year-old female passed out and Whikeitha Thomas started performing CPR. “She said, ‘I went through this already at Virginia Tech, and I just don’t like this feeling,’” said Thomas.
Three different events in three different states that all ended in either death or injuries. Whether you are for or against gun control, the numbers don’t lie. Inconsistency is the biggest threat of all. You can crack down on who can get a gun. Laws can be passed to outlaw them. However, would the violence stop?
Students aged 18 to 24 report about 526,000 violent crimes each year; of those crimes, 128,000 “involved a weapon or serious injury to the victim,” according to the Violent Victimization of College Students report. There are over 10,000 violent crimes a week, and of those over 2,400 have a serious injury or weapon involved.
The numbers and facts might be overwhelming, but if we took out the crimes involving weapons, there are still over 7,000 crimes occurring on a weekly basis. All of these people are adults going to college to further their education — a mature decision — and yet the violence continues. It is getting to a point where we will never know whether we will be safe on campus, at the mall or in our own home.
Major factors that cause the underlying violence include alcohol, racial and ethnic tensions and a sports culture that “can promote competition, aggression and male privilege,” said a report by collegeparents.org.
Perhaps it is refreshing for a liberal arts college to know that our campus is not surrounded by the heavy sports environment. Even still we occasionally receive the email about a string of car break-ins, a student threatening a teacher on social media, and, even more recently, a shooting near campus that placed a young woman in critical condition.
Thankfully, our university places our safety as a top priority, and instead of sweeping issues under the rug they keep us aware of the situation. Comer Hall has had elevated security since the Facebook threat, police caught the two men who left Lauren George with a gunshot wound to the head and the campus has sent us a friendly reminder to keep our car doors locked.
Anger and violence only causes more anger and violence later on down the road. Universities offer counseling services for students having these feelings. With their training and care for students, a 30 minute talk with them can help ease the outrage and help understand the root of the problem. Instead of taking our feelings too far, we should stop and use the resources available and not be too proud to admit when we need help.