Saturday, February 13, 2010

Another shooting on campus

The Chronicle of Higher Education

There have been too many instances of gun violence on college campuses in recent years.  This is obviously a reflection of our larger society, as I have previously written about.  But this particular incident hits very close to home, as University of Alabama Huntsville biology professor Any Bishop has been charged with shooting five of her colleagues and a staff member in the biology department at UAH.  Three people were killed and three others were injured and hospitalized.  The shooting, which occurred Friday afternoon at a meeting of the biology faculty, allegedly involved a dispute over Professor Bishop's tenure.  According to news reports, she was denied tenure last year, and apparently an appeal to the department was about to be or had recently been denied.  Here are links to stories in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed.

Anyone who has been in academe for any period of time can tell stories about disputes between colleagues.  I'm certainly aware of examples of these from my own career.  The tenure denial cases.  The academic couple in the same department who split when one of the pair had an affair with a graduate student.  The senior colleague who alleges discriminatory and inequitable treatment. 

No one ever expects disputes like these to escalate to the level of violence exhibited in Huntsville yesterday.  But as more and more of these instances occur, one can't help but think about the potential for it to happen at your own campus.  As conflicts between colleagues arise, it's all but impossible not to have in the back of your mind concern over the potential for violence to occur.

My thoughts are with the faculty, staff, and students at UAH in this difficult time.

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