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Violence on University Campuses Essay

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Updated: Apr 17th, 2020


On the morning of April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, a Virginia Tech University student, walked into a dorm, with a gun in hand, and opened fire on his fellow students, he then proceeded to another engineering building and just as before, opened fire, killing and injuring a number of students before being gunned down by the police. Police later released a statement saying that 32 students had been killed and more than 17 wounded in the incident. The tragedy was the worst of its kind but not the first incident of campus violence.

A history of University Campus Violence

Before the shooting at Virginia Tech, the deadliest incident of violence in universities had been the one that occurred in University of Texas in 1966 in which a student opened fire on fellow students, killing 16 of them before being killed by police.

In September 2, 2006, a 49 year old man killed himself and his two sons aged 26 and 24 during a visit to the campus of Shepherd University in West Virginia.

In October 28, 2002, a 40-year-old student walked into the University of Arizona Nursing College and shot his instructor, then entered a classroom and killed two more of his instructors, before turning the gun on himself.

In August 15, 1996, Frederick Davidson shot dead three of his professors while presenting his thesis at the University of Arkansas.

In May 4, 1970, National Guard soldiers shot dead four students and wounded nine others while calming student protests at the Kent State University of Ohio.

These are just a few of the violent incidents inside university campuses in the United States, the trend is similar in other universities and colleges around the world. A recent study showed that almost 75% of all publicly recorded incidents of violence occurred from 1990-2008- 79 during the 1990s and 83 after the year 2000. The findings indicate a rise in violence in our universities and calls for measures aimed at curbing these occurrences.

The incident in the Virginia Tech campus was a wake up call for university administrators to devise ways of enhancing student security within the campuses. Universities need to find a way of improving the mental health awareness of students, have contact with counseling facilities, and find a way of getting in touch with the students as quickly as possible in case of such incidences.

Solution to Campus Violence

Communication systems

Universities must find ways of reaching the students in case of an emergency using mass-notification systems, besides, the security agents must keep in touch (Kennedy, para. 22). Messaging is so far the quickest way of reaching students in case of an emergency. The method was successfully used at the University of Colorado during a stabbing incident (Sink, para. 4).

Had the messaging system been working prior to the incident at Virginia Tech, perhaps it would have prevented the death of at least 30 students. After Mr. Cho had killed two students at the dormitory, the campus security waited two hours to send out e-mail messages, obviously non-effective for emergency scenes, and by then, the killer had relocated to kill 30 more students in a hall.

Another communication tool is the radio system. Campuses should collaborate with security agencies to ensure interoperability. Interoperability lets two or more agencies to get in touch through dissimilar communication gadgets.

Increasing Security features within Campuses

The University of Toledo police purchased 15 long-range rifles as a response to the shooting at Virginia Tech. The police contend that universities are just like cities and to ensure the security of students, the standards applied must be similar to those used in cities. Besides, the University of Toledo fitted additional deadbolts to dormitory halls (Sink, para. Para. 19).

The University of Pennsylvania took tough procedures by increasing the number of security personnel and hastening the efforts to have students and staff members show their identification cards. The university already restricts entry to campus buildings unless one has an identification badge (Mulhauser, para. 3).

Student Mental Health

Improving student mental awareness is perhaps the best way to tackle violence in the campus. Most incidences of violence mentioned earlier are psychological; therefore, knowledge of the students mental can avert risks of violence among students. To mention the Virginia Tech incident, Mr. Cho had mental troubles and some students knew of this, but informed neither the university nor his family.

To implement this strategy, the University of Oklahoma has collaborated with the State Health Department to coach students so that they can help recognize and report fellow students who are under psychological trauma (Sink, para. 18).

One issue arising from this strategy is whether sharing student information with other departments is an infringement into their privacy. In reaction, the US Department of Education is amending the guidelines associated with the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act to explain the degree to which schools are permitted to share private student information with others (Kennedy, pp. 7).

Besides, schools should make an effort and eliminate the stigma related with mental illness so that students undergoing psychological stress can seek assistance. Timely recognition of violence in students is one of the best methods of averting violence in our campuses.

Works Cited

Kennedy, M. Operating in an era of Campus Security. American School and University, 2008, Vol. 80, Issue 2.

Mulhauser, D. Colleges Tighten Security to Guard Against Terrorism. 2001. Web.

Sink, M. . 2007. Web.

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