Monday, April 16, 2007

Alma Mater

I went to college at a wonderful, beautiful, safe place. Now it's worse than Columbine.

At least 22 people were killed on campus--no, ON CAMPUS--this morning at Virginia Tech. I heard the first reports of it on NPR here in Southern California on my drive in to work. I called my sister who'd only heard what I had: one person shot in a dorm, another in an academic building. We recalled the shootings near campus just past August and felt bad for new students there, then got off the phone.

Still driving to work, she called back to update me: 24 were shot in various locations--all on campus--and the one dead, they believe, is the shooter.

At my office, while my computer was still booting up, she called again: 20 of those shot were dead. It's the main story on (rightfully so) and the VT home page is announcing where parents can meet their college student children, that there will be a convocation tomorrow for the VT community to begin to deal with the tragedy and that counselors are on-hand for VT staff. The campus has closed today and all are asked to go home (during the rampage, students in classes huddled in the middle of the room, in lockdown, all students were told of the event via email and informed to 'stay away from windows.'

The campus will open again tomorrow at 8 am but all classes are cancelled. This is a good decision, of course, but:

Students want to the right to get drunk and be too hungover to go to to class; they want the freedom to skip a class. But, they want the class to happen. They just want to choose to go or not go. To know they have no choice but to stay in their dorm rooms, fresh with memories of avoiding the windows by their beds? To know that there's not a normal they can partake in even if they wanted?

No one wants that kind of freedom.


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