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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A rational reaction

    UA response to stabbing prudent

    Wednesday’s sudden and tragic stabbing on campus was a troubling surprise for the campus community. That morning, many students making their way to class were greeted by squad cars and police vehicles clogging Highland Avenue, the tell-tale antennas of TV news vans clustered outside Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall and the bustle of stressed and hurried UA administrators. Clearly, something was going on.

    Later that morning, the university sent an e-mail message to students, describing the situation in the dorm as “”isolated and contained”” and presenting “”no immediate threat to the community.”” Although many students may have been eager to discover the sordid details of the deaths that morning, we feel that the university’s response to the killing was ultimately a judicious one.

    In an age of near-paranoid concern and fear about school safety and imminent threats, isolated tragedies are easily inflated by public authorities and media outlets into major crises. Fortunately, the UA response to Wednesday’s killing was quick, rational and effective, and officials should be commended for keeping an anomalous event from further contributing to irrational fears. Although coming weeks may reveal whether the university did enough to forestall the killing, its reaction that morning was appropriate.

    Police responded within two minutes of the 911 call placed by a Graham-Greenlee resident assistant early Wednesday morning. Although the death was senseless and tragic, it was treated as a crime scene and not a safety crisis – as it should have been, since the killing posed no threat to the campus community at large. The policies in place to keep UA students safe were in force, and working.

    Too often, those safety and security policies are made reactively in response to terrible events, rather than in anticipation of them. Look at airport security for the clearest example – it wasn’t until after Richard Reid’s ridiculous shoe-bombing attempt that passengers were required to take off their shoes and shuffle through security lines, and it wasn’t until after the ill-fated London bomber’s absurd plot to mix up a liquid bomb that passengers were required to do the same shuffle with ziploc bags full of 3-ounce shampoo containers. We hope that any administrative response to last week’s tragedy will have the foresight to be more than a mere reaction to an event, but an effective policy promoting genuine safety.

    The UA is already at work on a campus-wide text messaging system to communicate with students in the event of an emergency that poses a serious threat to the university. This is an important tool. Last week, Arizona’s attorney general released a report on school safety making substantive suggestions toward improving university security, including mandatory emergency management plans, failsafe communications systems and proactive risk assessments. UA already complies with many of the suggestions, and should make an effort to adopt those with which they currently don’t.

    We can’t always prevent personal conflicts like the one that took place last Wednesday, though we canð – and should – employ basic measures to ensure that our campus is a safe and welcoming environment for all. What we can prevent is unneccessary overreaction to an isolated occurrence. The UA administrators, police officers and staff who responded Wednesday morning handled a regrettable tragedy with tact.

    OPINIONS BOARD: Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler, Connor Mendenhall, Jerry Simmons and Allison Dumka.

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