Saturday, December 3, 2016

University of Southern California professor fatally stabbed on campus, student arrested

The president of the University of Southern California has identified the professor stabbed to death by a student on campus as a psychology professor and neuroscientist.

USC President C. L. Max Nikias said in a letter to the USC community that the professor killed Friday afternoon was Bosco Tjan, an expert in vision cognition and perception.

The USC Department of Public Safety said that investigators believe the stabbing "was the result of a personal dispute" and that there was no threat to the campus.

More misery.


  1. I've seen my share of vicious savages over the years. Faculty, I mean. And then, too, there are the proffies who are excessively polite in a way that seems to make them into caricatures of themselves. Those in the latter group so often exist because of a general fear of those in the former group.

    This oversimplifies. It is more complicated than this. But a friend and I were just talking a few days ago about how many of us are concerned about an off-their-rocker proffie killing one of us (or our families).

    Will it happen it or won't it? If so, will it be the obvious bully or the quiet proffie (or gradflake) who has kept hir anger bottled up for years? How can such a horror be prevented?

    Be kind, of course. And be kind, for its own sake, anyway. But post-secondary ed is such a goddamn mess. Imagine spending the last minute of life in a futile struggle with a knife-wielding student. So sad.

    1. I tend to think of students as more of a threat than colleagues, but that's mostly a matter of numbers -- there are more of them, and most of them are at an age when some mental illnesses that lead to delusional thinking that can (though by no means always does) lead to violence tend to emerge. There's also the power differential, but that can apply within the faculty, too (and in fact the most recent case of faculty-on-faculty violence I can remember is the one that involved a faculty member who failed to get tenure opening fire at a department meeting).

      If there are better and worse ways to deal with people in the grip of a crisis who have become violent, I think we all (proffies, cops, everyone) would benefit from learning more about them.

      It sounds like the student in question was a grad student in Prof. Tjan's lab; that can be a tricky relationship, but it doesn't usually lead to violence.

      It also sounds like Prof. Tjan was doing useful and important work (that might have helped one of my grandmothers, among others). And he has a family who will miss him. All in all, quite a loss.


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