[Milton-L] Postscript

gilliaca at jmu.edu gilliaca at jmu.edu
Thu Apr 19 09:23:15 EDT 2007

" I very much liked Jim Rovira's proposition, that, if three 
professors expressed concern about a student's behavior as 
potentially dangerous to the welfare of others, the student 
would--as the Blacksburg shooter had been in the past--be 
referred for involuntary psychiatric evaluation." 

Of course one of the saddest things is that the psychiatric 
evaluation did not prevent his being released rather quickly. 
I have no idea how difficult it would have been to have seen 
just how very troubled he was - think about the two photos of 
him released at once, and the very different affect in the 
tapes and pictures he sent to NBC.  

"... angry young men and women--this was the era of the 
Vietnam War--but no one claimed the right to exercise that 
anger and frustration, or take out our disgust with the ways 
of the world, by slaughtering others"

Well, I was at U of Mich 1967 -1971. To prepare us to become 
TAs, the English dept included a lecture on how to evacuate 
the building if there was a bomb threat, how to respond to 
your classroom being invaded for a teach-in,how to deal with 
tear gas, etc. You see, that summer some very angry people 
had blown up the a campus building at U of Wisconsin, killing 
a couple of people in the procees, if I remember correctly. 

"Had those in position to help him taken his maladjusted 
behavior seriously enough to respond more meaningfully than 
they apparently did, they might have been able to prevent 
this tragedy." 

But they did. 

"Students and teachers have a right to feel safe on their 
campuses and in their classrooms--and we have the obligation 
to do whatever we can to ensure that they are able to do so."

I totally agree. But I do not think that we can ever achieve 
perfection in this. One thing I for sure hope results from 
this is for colleges and universities to carefully examine 
their contingency plans for 'the unthikable' and to look for 
better ways to communicate in an emergency. 

In this immediate area we have two small private 
institutions: Bridgewater College and Eastern Mennonite 
University. Both are - I think - totally residential for 
their small undergrad student bodies.  JMU is much larger, 
and has a significant off-campus undergrad population housed 
in big apartment complexes and smaller rental units in 
residential areas near campus. Solutions that might work for 
the smaller schools will not work for us.

I hope and trust that those with responsibility are ... being 

Cynthia A. Gilliatt
English Department, JMU
JMU Safe Zones participant
"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you hate." Fr. John Weston

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