Sunday, January 9, 2011

AZ shooter Jared Loughner's behavior

Jared Loughner will be analyzed in the news for the next several weeks. The shootings in Arizona illustrate the problem facing colleges in the 21st Century, namely what to do with students that cases other students to feel uncomfortable (as the emails in the Washington Post article show) but their actions aren't grounds for kicking the students out. The economic downturn has been a boom to community college enrollment as students take advantage of the lower tuition. Community colleges also tend to have open enrollment which means there is wide range of academic, socio-economic, and demographic factors walking through the door. Sometimes the students walking through the door have mental health challenges and if those are social pathologies, college can set off a greater pathology. Arguments with faculty and other students, feelings of rejection, or feelings of failure are college experiences for some. For people like Loughner or Cho (the Virginia Tech shooter), these experiences drive them to action. The challenge for colleges is to come up with ways of identifying these students without becoming draconian and expelling every student that says something that makes other people uncomfortable.

It also serves as a reminder of my constant mantra, remain vigilant at all times!

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