It's been really hard for me to decide if I should say something about the shootings at Virginia Tech. Mostly because the media will inevitably (and already is) inundating the students, professors and administration with stupid questions, and the finger pointing is in full force. However, I suppose that's ultimately why I have decided to say something about the incident.
As a long-time student and teacher (8 years, I realized today) in higher education, a member and lover of the academic community through and through, my biggest response at this point, a few days after, is anger. Anger for the parents who lost their children, the wives who lost husbands, the brothers who lost sisters, all the people who lost their friends. I'm angry that one student was so arrogant that he thought his problems justified the taking of 32 lives.
I walk into classrooms every day for my work and my own education, and the thought of having that safe space destroyed makes me angry. I stand in front of a class of 6 and a class of 22 and a class of 18 four times a week, and I look at their faces, and while I often get really irritated at their laziness or their apathy, just as much of the time, I'm proud of them and see their potential. For someone to take that away makes me angry.
I'm proud of the students and faculty who risked--and lost--their lives trying to protect others. As a teacher, I have to wonder if I would do the same? And quite honestly, I know very few teachers and students who wouldn't do the same. For that, I'm proud.
I'll walk into my classrooms today, and I'll have to decide what to say to them, if anything, about this event. And while I've been sitting the fence about it since Monday, I've decided that I will say something to them. To pretend like it didn't happen, especially on a university campus, feels wrong to me. I'll tell them that they are a part of a very large community that stretches far beyond the boundaries of this university. They are part of the academic community at large. They're a part of the community of our classroom. And, while I might be a hardass most of the time, I enjoy knowing them. They're good people with lots of potential, and sometimes they need to be reminded that they're appreciated.