The Impact of Uvalde

“Columbine.” Suddenly, whether interpreted as a verb, noun, or adjective, there is a visual of a horrific school shooting. We do not think of the beautiful edifice that is Columbine High School in Colorado. Instead, we think of the violence of that April day in 1999.

Sandy Hook and now Robb Elementary are notations that chronicle the worst of humanity. We even have Wikipedia sites for Mass Shootings in American Schools. These crises become statistics, and the humanity, or inhumanity of them is lost. There is no relief for those who are suffering the losses, particularly of young children, at the gunpoint of a maniac. I say maniac for there can be no rationale that would ever reasonably address this crime.

For the spiritual among us, we pray for the mourning families of Uvalde. Like life itself, there comes a point when things will just move on, and those grieving families slip from our daily prayer list. It is not that we become callous, but likely some other tragedy has taken Uvalde’s place. Unfortunately, this is frighteningly predictable.

Leaders and politicians will debate as to whether it was the guns, a soft target, or mental health issues, and maybe all three. History tells us not much will change. However, we can change. We can take a stand. If you believe these crises are about guns, express that to your elected officials and question what will be the next move to curb guns and gun violence. If you believe mental health issues created this catastrophe, write to your elected officials and ask what additional measures have been put in place to help or contain those suffering with mental illness. If you believe schools are “soft” targets and invited this carnage, inquire as to the measures being taken to ensure these facilities are not vulnerable. We can and should say something to those who can do something. Don’t simply sit back and say the usual, “Somebody has to do something, but you know they won’t!”

Of course, tragedy of this nature makes us look at our vulnerability here on campus. Know that we have multiple measures in place to protect students and employees. First, we have the entire campus covered in high definition cameras monitored by Public Safety throughout the day and evening. Second, we have an effective Emergency Plan, which addresses situations of this nature and our management of the crisis, particularly in the first 10 minutes, between the emergence of the assailant(s) and the arrival of the authorities. Finally, most of our Public Safety officers are armed and well trained in the use of firearms.  We are always reviewing our plans, and our preparedness to keep students and employees safe.

Always be aware of your surroundings. Acknowledge anything that feels threatening. Do not hesitate to report anything unusual, no matter how small it may seem, to Public Safety at 856-351-2911. Also, take the initiative to reach out to your elected officials and express your concerns. We are all responsible for one another. Take the time to do something about it.