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Editor's Note

Readers Respond

University Business, Sep 2007

A NUMBER OF READERS COMMENTED ON last month's editorial about a Nevada proposal to arm faculty in the hopes of avoiding campus shootings. Leonard Pellman of Indiana Wesleyan University-who stressed that his views are his and not his employer's-had a blunt response to the proposal. "It can't hurt," he wrote. "The more levels at which people and their institutions are equipped to deal with aggression and violence the better."

Pellman explains that, as an exchange student in Japan, he saw Japanese school children being trained in the martial arts as a mandatory part of the physical education curriculum of the time. "As a result, every Japanese student receives a solid foundation in self-defense and combative tactics ... and school violence has been minimal.

"There are deranged people in every culture and society," he writes. "People who are equipped to stand against violence reap less violence."

Howard Cook, chief of the Columbia College Police Department, and president of the South Carolina Campus Law Enforcement Association, could see both sides of the Nevada plan. "My first thought is that more law enforcement is always better," he writes. "We utilize state constables, like reserves, at our college to help in sporting events as well as move-in and homecoming events."

Faculty and staff would not be the first place he would seek recruits for patrol officer positions, he writes. "However, if they were willing to go through the rigorous training that it takes to become one, I feel that the dedication would be proven for the assignment."

'People who are equipped to stand against violence reap less violence.'

Cook also had doubts that the plan could be adopted elsewhere. "In our state, [faculty] would have required monthly hours of service that would have to be put in to allow them to keep their commissions, and this could be very taxing on already overworked employees. Our cost of liability and workers compensation insurance would go up. Depending on the employee's position at the college, there could be power struggle issues with the on-duty supervisors."

In the end, Cook had a more practical assessment of the plan. "I can see where a school or state could use this to say they are doing something about a possible active shooter, but the reality is that this is just a gesture. Very few, if any, will agree to the training, commitment and cost it would take to allow them to help on a campus as a reserve or constable."

Another reader, who didn't want his name used, was more succinct in his feelings on the Nevada plan. "I was shot while attending classes at the University of Houston," he wrote. "An entire room of armed classmates would not have stopped the bad guy from shooting me and one other. We lived."

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