There was a lot of talk about this stuff last year after the horrible events at Virginia Tech, and in some venues, these things are still being discussed, I imagine, But where I teach, we seem to still be in reactionary mode – responding to individual incidents without a protocol in place. I find this very frustrating.
Just this past week, two young women got into a fight outside my classroom door. I stepped out, called security, and the security officer sent them their separate ways. I went back into the classroom, taught for an hour, and then heard screaming – real screaming – in the hallway. Without really thinking, I told my students to stay in the room, and then I stepped out into the hallway again. This time, the women were physically fighting, one bending over the other who lay on the ground. Another professor ran over and pulled the girls apart. Again, I tried to call security – no one answered the switchboard – so another English professor went running for help. In that moment, before anyone else arrived, one of my students – the sister of one of the girls involved – charged down the hallway to go after the girl who was hitting her sister. I had to physically restrain her.
The aftermath of this incident took the rest of my day and resulting in me having to dismiss my morning class and cancel my afternoon class. I typed up a statement, but never was “debriefed” formally on the incident. And although this event took place last Thursday – four days ago – no one has told me what the follow-up is.
Now I imagine I was not informed of things or really talked to about the incident because I am supposed to be “incidental” to this situation. But because of my school’s lack of protocol and adequate security, I – and one of my colleagues who ended up sequestering one of the girls and her sister in our writing lab – ended up being two of the crucial lynchpins in the quelling of this fight. (Did I mention these girls were on an athletic team that had apparently taken clear sides on this disagreement?)
I wish faculty could be incidental, a peripheral part of violence on campus, but given my experience and the obvious involvement of the faculty at Virginia Tech, both before and during the violence, I don’t think such a position is possible. However, I do not think it’s my job to figure out what we should do – that’s a role for the administration and the security office. I just hope they step up and fulfill their roles.
What do you guys think about faculty roles and responsibilities toward campus violence?