What did RAD say about small colleges? Here's the response from Pacific President Phil Creighton, who previously to assuming the presidency at Pacific was Eastern Oregon University's CEO:
TO: Pacific Community
FROM: Phil Creighton, President
The nation, and indeed the Pacific University community, all mourn the losses Monday at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, and are saddened by the tragic loss of innocent life. It is often hard to comprehend what seems to most as senseless inhumanity. All we can do, especially from a distance, is hold those in grief in our thoughts and prayers.
We also need to reflect that we all need to be prepared for emergencies—even those that are unimaginable. As a community, we need to value each other and to be aware that tragedy is no longer a stranger to college campuses. Pacific University has in place procedures to deal with crises, and it is important that you acquaint yourself with those responses. One of those ways is for all students, faculty and staff to pay attention to one another and report any disparate behavior. By looking out for each other, we often can head off potentially harmful consequences.
As we share in sorrow and mourn those killed or injured, remember to care for yourself as well. If you feel that you could benefit from the resources we have on campus, I encourage you to contact the Counseling Center on campus at 503-352-2191.
Please remember those who are suffering and dealing with loss, and keep our friends and colleagues at Virginia Tech close to our hearts and minds.
Professor Emeritus RAD: As we used to say in the '60s - "small is beautiful"!
Excerpts from The Nation thanks to my Canadian Connection:
TN: "...After all these years, the Bush administration still seems not to grasp the full dangers it faces, including, as Juan Cole long ago pointed out, what might be called the Khomeini solution in which the majority Shiite population would take to the streets, a development against which the Americans could prove helpless.
-- "...An urban insurgency/revolution, Cole wrote back in 2004, "can in fact win, and win quite decisively, as the urban crowds won out over the Shah [of Iran]. The Shah tried everything to put down the urban crowds. He had them spied on. He had them shot at. Nothing worked. The urban crowds just got bigger and bigger...""" --
TN: ",,,And dont forget those endless supply lines from Kuwait, so crucial for the American war-fighting and base system -- and so vulnerable..."
"...To complicate matters, Sadr pulled his six ministers from the already shaky Maliki government Monday to protest the arrest of Mahdi Army commanders and the Prime Ministers unwillingness to sponsor a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces from the country..."
"...This is a position backed, in the latest opinion poll, by 80% of Shiites and 97% of Sunnis. Recently, Middle Eastern expert Dilip Hiro reminded us not to overlook another Iraqi figure, a Shiite nationalist who, these days, gets very little print at all -- Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani against whose wishes, in crucial moments in the past, the Americans have proven remarkably helpless. With the American surge already faltering, the situation in Iraq looks ever more explosive..."
RAD: Yes, the surge is working, it's just the wrong surge!
PS: Dateline Baghdad - April 18, 2007 - 183 killed today. In Vietnam they counted the body bags, in Iraq just bomb victims. Somehow it doesn't seem like the US is winning the locals "hearts & minds."
As a college professor for over 37 years, April 16th's events at Virginia Tech University dredge up painful memories RAD has in reaction to other such horrific events at home and abroad that shaped my own academic career, the killings of students at Kent State and Jackson State in the spring of 1970, as college students protested Nixon's invasion of Cambodia.
As a young untenured assistant professor at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1970 the events at Kent State in Ohio came especially close to home. Our small liberal arts campus of 1700 students erupted into anger and despair once the news of the massacre at Kent State became news in an era decades before the Internet.
Fortunately, we faculty members were able to funnel the outrage in ways that helped our campus and community respond to one of America's most serious political crisis in our history. Yesterday's events while very different in that there appears to be no political backdrop to the tragedy reminds one of the centrality of the faculty in such circumstances.
More recently the events of 9/11 on my academic home for 31 years, Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon brought home the fact that even a small liberal arts college located on a beautiful campus in a semi-rural/suburban environment of small town America affords one no shelter from the storms that afflict our complex world.
That day found me teaching my American presidency class in live time as the events of 9/11 were unfolding. To say the least it was a teachable moment, more than that - a teachable day, week and term. But most importantly, I was able to share comments in a convocation that afternoon which helped assure the assembled students that while their innocence has been shattered, World War III was not about to break out.
This gets to my main point. Faculty members need to step up on college campuses when such horrific events take place and be there for their students, one on one or in their classes as the case may be. And most importantly, teachers need to have good sniff detectors to smell the scent of trouble lurking in the hearts and minds of their students. It's not enough to be a good classroom teacher; you also must be an alert mentor.
As we know from similar events like the tragedies at Columbine, Colorado to Springfield, Oregon there are often warning signs from troubled students. But all too often these signs of student angst are ignored by peers or simply not noticed by busy teachers caught up in the day to day routine of preparing for classes and grading papers. But those explanations for the culture of denial aren't acceptable anymore.
However, a part of the problem is that even when one's trouble detector is working there are a set of legal barriers dealing with a student's confidentiality which can get in the road of alerting parents, counselors, dormitory RAs or off campus authorities. However, as one who has intervened many times in a 37-year career to help students over emotional hurdles, where there is a will, there is a way.
The most important lesson I've learned is to not take NO for an answer. Students going through an emotional crisis need an adult to talk with - and often the best adult is their teacher. Just being there for them is the most important thing. Listening not judging is the key. But at some point if one thinks there is a larger risk posed by a student - then you have the moral responsibility to go the next step.
Fortunately, in my case I've never had to take the "next step" but I've often had to hurdle the obstacle course of administrative rules which value "privacy" over the safety of the student or the wider community. We need legislation to deal with this problem which handicaps parents, counselors and others who work with vulnerable students.
Teachers are the frontline responders who can do the most to help students past troubled times. But this may require a faculty person to put down their scholarly paper, to stop preparing for the next lecture or to not attend another endless faculty meeting to deal with what is truly important - the students in their charge - in and out of the class.
The sad events at Virginia Tech remind us that all too often young men and women are too easily lost in the shadows of the academy as academic life becomes marginalized by specialization and the anonymity of size.
Whether you work at a large mega university of thousands or a small liberal arts college, one of the keys to overcoming marginalization and anomie is creating a "culture of caring" among the faculty who are willing to think and act outside their academic boxes.
In an academic culture increasingly defined by the scholarly narcissism of public or perish or popularity or perish creating a culture of caring is not an automatic response. It requires leadership from university presidents, academic deans, department chairs and ownership by the faculty.
At the end of the day even the best intentions will fail to protect the innocent from harm. We are the choices we make. Whether it's in Blacksburg, Virginia or Baghdad, Iraq sometimes those choices turn out very tragically. Right now, all we can do is to thank our lucky stars those dear to us are safe as we remember those who perished.
The murder of 32 people, injuries to at least 26 others and the apparent suicide by the alleged shooter will forever mark
Blacksburg, Virginia and Virginia Tech University as another horrific event in American history.
While we know next to nothing about the presumed killer, the identity of the victims or why somebody would go on such a rampage two thoughts are unmistakable.
First, college campuses as open spaces for students and the wider community are virtually impossible to protect against the actions of a person gone mad by rage, whatever the cause.
Second, the easy access to guns in American society puts all of us at risk. However, most of us are insulated by such violence because most of us don't inhabit an environment where guns are so readily available.
But when such alarming events such as the one today in Virginia occur, it makes us all realize how fragile life is and how at risk we can be when we least expect it.
We will no doubt find out over time the venom that lit the assassin's fuse. But will Americans ever learn that this society's embrace of the gun culture is an enabler of such human tragedy?
The NRA will be quick to remind us all that it's not guns which kill but human beings who kill. Tell that to the victims and their parents, to the faculty and staff of Virginia Tech and the wider community caught in the grip of such terror.
The Founding Fathers never meant the Second Amendment to be a curse! But the NRA's tortured interpretation of the right to bears arms has in fact become a curse - ask Coretta King or Ted Kennedy!