Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Year

I don't know if anyone came here yesterday looking for commentary on the one year anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech; I apologize if you were hoping for my take on things. I think I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I don't really want to talk about it. Don't think I don't appreciate the kindnesses that have been shown to me and to Virginia Tech over the past year; I remember things like that for a very, very long time. Just as an example, I remember that University of Virginia students had an Orange-and-Maroon Day and painted one of their bridges in memory of our loss. Most conversations I have just seem to go "Yes, I was there. No, I wasn't a student. Yes, it's sad." That may have just been me being worn out over the matter. It would be profoundly ungrateful not to acknowledge the humbling amount of support there's been, so as just one Hokie let me say it: Thank You.

It's weird: there are plenty of things that can make me sad, but not in a way that just hits me. I can be just driving along, find myself thinking about Tech, and before I know it my eyes are suddenly watery and I have to think about baseball or tax policy or something I'm not very interested in so as not to break down. It's stupid, as I wasn't in Norris Hall and I only knew one of the victims even slightly. I didn't get this way over September 11th.

After one year, though, it feels as though there's less of a weight, as though a period of mourning is finally over. The sentiment among Hokies over the past year has been "We are Virginia Tech. We will prevail." I think we can change the tense of the second part of that; we are prevailing.

That said, I'm still bitter about the ban of firearms on campus. Most classrooms, including most at Virginia Tech and many here at William & Mary, are absolute deathtraps. I have no idea how even they're even safe in case of fire, let alone a gunman. People seem to think we'll have the Wild West if guns are allowed; I have trouble staying high-road in my thinking when this argument is made. Let me say it one more time: the Virginia Tech and William & Mary policies only disarm the very students who are most likely to be responsible. Virginia Tech's administration has blood on its hands; I hope the same can never be said for William & Mary's.

That said, I'm working on seeing what kind of options are available here. I know that the current policy allows only one exception: permission by the Dean of Students. I don't believe she's likely to grant it. The Board of Visitors has the ability to alter the Code of Conduct; I have yet to speak with them. I don't know whether anyone higher in the administration could compel the Dean of Students to grant permission. Obviously, I don't believe that a public university has the right to forbid citizens with Concealed Handgun Permits to carry (under threat of academic discipline). However, I'm willing to work within whatever framework is necessary to solve this problem.

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