Details continue to emerge about the murder of a TA by a colleague at Purdue University yesterday. At this point, the pattern is all too familiar — the candlelight vigils, moments of silence, and the rest. However, I ran across a bit today that was new to me — accounts of Purdue faculty who kept doing their thing as the campus went on lockdown.
I guess I’m more fatalistic about these matters than a lot of folks, having learned that people can be lost to violence in what would seem the unlikeliest of places. I try to remind myself how improbable such events are and to act accordingly. At the same time, Mondoville College has a plan in place for what we call “active shooter” incidents — indeed, our campus security talks about what to do when such an event takes place, rather than if. That seems a bit like borrowing trouble to me, but I suppose it’s wise to prepare for capabilities instead of intentions.
All things considered, I’d like to think that I’ll follow the plan as best I can if the situation calls for it, despite the fact that I don’t think of my classroom as a terribly defensible position. On the other hand, back in my early years here, I remember hearing the tornado warning sirens going off during a faculty meeting on a stormy spring afternoon. The then-president (in the words of Mr. cummings, a “trig Westpointer”) didn’t stop his address to us, even as the campus pastor announced that she was heading for shelter. She was the only one who split that I recall — bright woman. We weren’t harmed, but as I grow older, I think there’s something to be said for the better part of valor.
All the same, I have to admit that there’s a part of me that admires the cavalier attitude of those professors at Purdue. But it’s easy to admire them when neither they nor their students got shot.