Thursday, October 1, 2015

Oregon Community College Shooting. Links From CNN.

The man who opened fire at Oregon's Umpqua Community College on Thursday is dead, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin told reporters.

...preliminary information indicates 10 people were killed and more than 20 others injured in the shooting, according to Oregon State Police spokesman Bill Fugate.



  1. Before her move to a top libarts spot a little further north, Darla taught at Umpqua.

    I think it's amazing that when talking about this story as I was leaving my campus today, not a soul expressed any shock or surprise. It's what happens. Numb to it. Disconcerting.

    1. It's our new normal. Dead kids are apparently an acceptable cost to the gun lobby.

    2. And I find myself, once again (without much actual information about this particular event), wondering what would do if a shooter appeared in my classroom. I hope I'd find a way to at least distract him (it's almost certain to be a him, isn't it) while my students would (I hope) escape and/or call for help, but I know I might well freeze, not so much out of fear as out of indecision/uncertainty about what to do. Even in imagination, the gap between the skills that get one through a dissertation and the people skills necessary to teach well, let alone deal with someone who's truly in crisis, becomes all too evident. I've gotten reasonably good at the people skills necessary for teaching (though I still wouldn't count that as my greatest strength; I'm probably better at planning out assignments and activities ahead of time than implementing them in a fast-changing situation, which is one reason I actually like online teaching, which can move a bit more slowly), but I fear that crisis management might be beyond me. And, while I worry a bit about my own safety as a result, I worry much more that I would, in the moment of crisis, not manage to do something that could conceivably protect my students, because I couldn't parse the situation and decide on an action quickly enough.

  2. My heart goes out to all the Darlas and others affected at Umpqua, including the police and EMTs.

    To the NRA: a big Fuck You.

    Cassandra, there are training films about this that are frighteningly realistic. One starts with a serious man carrying a black duffel bag, apparently a common beginning to such events. I have often wondered whether I should do anything when I see a serious man with a black duffel bag. To the NRA: a big Fuck You.

    Our campus now has "shelter in place" drills in addition to fire drills. I brief students every semester about how to hide from a shooter and behave around the cops afterwards (arms raised, hands out). We faculty raised a stink until we got door locks we could use from the inside. To the NRA: a big Fuck You.

  3. Our campus had an "minor incident" last year. People nearby were not warned during the incident, and no alert was ever given. It was clear from the aftermath that the University was mostly concerned about negative media attention.

    There has been zero effort to address this real issue since then. I'm sorry to say that if something like yesterday's terrible events occur on my campus I'm afraid that there will be many, many dead. And then there will be negative media attention, followed by lawsuits over the inaction after the "early warning" incident. But the administrators will have all moved on and up by then, and they're unlikely to be face-to-face with an angry student anyway.

  4. And this is one of the precious few benefits to the solitude and isolation of primarily teaching online.

    However, a couple years after 09/11, I was adjuncting at a Manhattan college teaching an intro class in a 250 seat lecture hall to only about 90 students. As you might expect, the vast majority of students sat in the outer edges, a contingent in the first few center rows and a group in the furthest center rows.

    And one student smack dab in the middle.

    Nothing seemed amiss but one day I noticed the student in the middle - he was difficult to miss - and so (as we are so often encouraged) I attempted to engage him. He resisted at first, but I persisted, "No, please share what you're thinking ... "

    He then launched on a stunningly angry diatribe ... professors - me in particular - never REALLY want to hear what students say, we are all just paying lip service, blah, blah.
    His tone got increasingly strident, his demeanor more belligerent.

    As is common in such incidents, it felt like forever, but realistically was only a few minutes.

    I could feel my throat tighten; my limbs start to quiver. I actually did look to the exit on the bottom floor of the auditorium, could I reach it? I don't remember specifically envisioning a firearm but I feared SOMEthing bad was about to happen.

    He finished his rant. I made some pro forma comment about appreciating his input and offering a chance for a further, private dialogue, before announcing a break and being relieved this student left quickly and (as I remember) did not return to the class ever again.

    A few minutes into the break, I went to a student with whom I had a good relationship and asked if she felt I had done/said something that might have set the other student off. She assured me I had not, that some of the other students had been getting uneasy at how aloof the ranting student had been.

    In the years since, I've taught a few additional campus-based classes and feel a particular uneasiness in challenging any student - rather contradictory to the PURPOSE of education - but the idea of settling a grievance by firepower has gotten WAY too common.

  5. OK, we knew it was coming, we just didn't know exactly when or from whom.

    I just saw on the news that Donald Trump has called for arming teachers.

    1. Let's run some stats. On any given day, let's assume the average teacher is only 1:10000000 likely, if the means were readily available, to paint the whiteboard with their own brains. Now let's multiply that by the number of classrooms occupied on the average day, and the number of class days in a year, and you see where I'm going with this.

      Sometimes I consider myself lucky that the most lethal object in my home office is a bottle of 12-year old, slow-acting liver poison.