A Timeline of Some of the Worst Campus Shootings

A Timeline of Some of the Worst Campus Shootings

Year Campus What Happened and Who the Casualties Were

1966 University of Texas A student climbs a tower and opens fire, killing 16 and wounding 31. 1968 South Carolina State College State police officers kill three students and wound 27 others during a

protest against desegregation. 1970 Jackson State College Highway Patrol officers kill two students and wound nine others by

shooting into a crowd. 1971 Kent State University National Guard troops open fire on antiwar demonstrators, killing four

students and wounding nine. 1991 University of Iowa A grad student slays three professors, an administrator, a student, and

then himself. 1996 San Diego State A grad student murders three professors during his thesis defense. 2002 Appalachian School of Law A grad student who flunked out of school slays a dean, a professor, and

a student and wounds three others. 2002 University of Arizona A failing student kills three instructors and then himself. 2007 Virginia Tech University An undergrad shoots to death 30 students and two professors and

wounds 24 others in a rampage that begins in a dorm and ends in a classroom, before he takes his own life.

2008 Northern Illinois University A grad student opens fire in a lecture hall, murdering five students and injuring 18 others before committing suicide.

2010 University of Alabama-Huntsville A science professor who is turned down for tenure methodically shoots six members of her department at a meeting, killing three colleagues and wounding the others.

2011 Virginia Tech University A gunman murders a campus police officer and then kills himself. 2012 Oikos University A student suffering from paranoid schizophrenia shoots seven students

to death and wounds three others. 2013 Santa Monica College A student slays two family members and then goes on a shooting

rampage near the college, killing five and wounding four others before dying from police bullets.

2014 University of California, Santa Barbara

A former student stabs to death his three roommates, fatally shoots two women in front of a sorority house and one man in a store, and injures 13 other people before engaging the police in a shootout and then ending his own life near the campus.

SOURCES: Wicker, 1970; Associated Press, 2008b; Dewan and Zezima, 2010; Sander, 2011; and Kingkade, 2014.

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Because parents and prospective students understandably are concerned about campus secu- rity, it is tempting to try to calculate the victimiza- tion rates for various campuses to identify the safest and the most dangerous ones in the nation. But comparisons of relative safety can be misleading. The composition of the student body—undergrads compared to grad students, the ratio of men to women, and dorm residents versus commuters— varies dramatically. Also, campus student bodies change in size from day sessions to evening classes to nighttime residence hall populations. Further- more, some colleges are situated in idyllic rural settings; others are located in densely populated urban neighborhoods or have several scattered satel- lite centers, branches, or affiliated teaching hospitals. It may even be downright unfair to compare security measures at minimally funded community colleges to those at well-endowed Ivy League universities, and to rank safety levels at large public urban institu- tions against small, sheltered, private, or religiously based colleges.

Usually, incidents that take place in the imme- diate vicinity of the campus that would boost the dangerousness ratings are caused by conditions that are beyond the college administration’s ability to improve or control. Nonreporting to the campus security force or the local police may be a larger problem on certain campuses than others, so cal- culations of victimization rates can be inaccurate and misleading for this reason as well. Finally, published figures may be inaccurate and mislead- ing for institutions whose administrations manipu- late the numbers to make their campuses appear safer than they really are to attract security- minded applicants. An example of this would be downgrading burglaries—crimes involving intruders that should be reported to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics recording system—to larcenies not resulting from trespassing, which aren’t counted by the NCES and don’t have to be publicized to the college community, but are disclosed in the FBI’s UCR (see Seward, 2006).

In 2005, Congress designated September as National Campus Safety Awareness Month (Feingold,

2005). To prevent incidents, most campuses now have gates and checkpoints, ID systems, electronic card- key entry systems to buildings, better locking devices, message boards, professional security forces, stepped-up patrols, extensive monitoring via video surveillance cameras, better lighting, indoor and outdoor emergency phones, evening shuttle buses, student escorts, crisis counseling centers, crime blot- ter columns in campus newspapers, and workshops on date rape and crime prevention as part of first-year orientations. Colleges are now rated in terms of the number and kinds of security measures they have implemented to protect their campus communities. By 2005, most public colleges had sworn officers with firearms and full arrest powers, but many private institutions of higher learning still had only unarmed security guards, according to a federal survey (Purdum, 1988; Smith, 1988; Graham, 1993; Mathews, 1993; Whitaker and Pollard, 1993; Lederman, 1994; Molotsky, 1997; Ottens and Hotelling, 2001; and Reaves, 2008).

Unfortunately, the relaxed and open atmo- sphere of academia, which was based on freedom of movement and free expression of ideas, is being sacrificed in the name of enhanced campus security (see Fox and McDowall, 2008; and Mathias, 2008). Despite the shocking and tragic outbreaks of vio- lence at universities listed in Box 11.1, the special solution—and the best overall risk reduction advice—for the millions of college students seeking to avoid trouble, whether they are commuters or live in dormitories, is to spend as much time as possible on campus, because the buildings and grounds of the nation’s nearly 3,700 institutions of higher learning still are among the safest locales in the country.

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