The most recent school shootings, this time at Delaware State University in Dover, De., once again remind us to beg the WCU administration to inform students of what they should do and what the University is prepared to do, should an event of similar proportions take place here. If nothing else, the two shootings that took place late last week, in the early morning hours of Friday, Sept. 21, should remind us that a school’s size, location or cost have little to do with the very real possibility of violent crime occurring.
Just 3,657 students were enrolled at DSU in the Fall 2006 semester, according to the most recent enrollment figures listed on the school’s Web site. Attending the school as an out-of-state student costs about $18,796. The school’s enrollment and cost are almost completely converse to the enrollment and costs of Virginia Tech., which enrolls more than 25,000 students and costs about $26,000 to attend as an out-of-state student. Consequently, the enrollment and cost to attend WCU falls right in between.
The two incidents also appear to differ in motive. At VT, the shooter was apparently motivated by sheer anger and possibly depression. At DSU, police think that the shots were fired between rival groups of friends – one from New Jersey and one from Washington, D.C. So let us not forgot that violence can stem from virtually anything and come from virtually anybody, whether it is a rivalry between several students or a single deranged student.
The DSU shootings are thought to be non-random while, clearly, the VT shootings were random. Let us not forget that random or non-random, a finger on the trigger does not bode well for the students of this or any university.
Administrators at DSU, aware of the mistakes made during the VT massacre, ordered campus to be shut down immediately and directed students to not leave their residence halls. Notices were posted on campus buildings and the school’s Web site; gates were lowered around campus as police searched for the gunman.
This most recent shooting, which wounded two students and killed none, was on a much smaller scale than the VT shootings, and accordingly, received less media attention. Still, it makes us wary, and we want to know what the University is planned to do should a similar shooting happen here. There are more than 13,000 full- and part-time students enrolled at WCU and, unfortunately, only one needs to decide that violence is the answer for us to be the next breaking news event on CNN.
The good news is that students do generally feel safe on and around campus. Campus police are visible at most hours of the day and night and the campus is mostly well lit. But when students at VT and DSU were asked how they felt about their campus before the shootings, they responded the same way we would: It felt safe; nothing like this happens here.
What is the plan of action here? And why doesn’t every single student know about it? It should be known and publicized now that the University is prepared to deal with an unlikely spree of violence. Students, faculty and staff should also know where, if anywhere, to look for directions and updates following such an event. We need to know now, before we’re scrambling, before a shot is fired, before it’s too late.
We ask the University to announce publicly a basic response plan. We want to know that the University is prepared to deal with a catastrophic event and that they are prepared to disseminate a message to all students informing them about it. Nothing is more important than our safety. It is far too important to overlook.