Monday, April 16, 2007

Thoughts for Virginia Tech ...

Today has been a sad day since I heard the news of the shootings in the engineering school at Virginia Tech. You can't teach future engineers, as I do, and not feel a connection to engineering students everywhere. It is tragic to see any young lives lost, but these were hard-working lives particularly full of promise to the future of our nation. My heart goes out to their families and friends, and the entire campus community.

It will take a long time for the scars to heal. I know people at one university where a faculty member was shot by a graduate student many years ago, and that incident was very much alive to them as much as 10 to 15 years later.

Like Chad, I think it would be nice to see some decorum. The feeding frenzy at the 7:30 pm press conference was revolting. Those insta-expert journalists all seem to think that this is a CSI episode, and the ballistics tests should be done by the next ad break. Didn't they learn anything from the Duke lacrosse story? Lets wait and see what the facts are.

I also can't help but reflect on an event at ICC a few months ago. Got to work and about the first thing I heard was "classes are not cancelled, ignore the bomb threat". ... OK. ... There was nothing to it, as the experts had deduced, and the decision to not disrupt the education of thousands of students was a good one. Will we rethink that? Will our policy be on the agenda of the governance committee I will be on next year? Will it be on the agenda for every college and university in the country? Probably. We can but hope that this necessary effort will be a waste of our time because this will not happen again.

Note added:
Bingo. The topic was on the agenda today, but fortunately it will mostly be addressed by people above my paygrade at meetings that start later this week.

Finally, as a big fan of irony, it was not lost on me that a Palestinian civil engineering grad student was the hero i-reporter for CNN. It says a lot about the difference between his homeland and mine that his reaction to gunfire was to stay put and record it on his cell phone video.

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