I know our thoughts and prayers are with the community at Virginia Tech right now. One of the first victims, apparently, was an African American R.A. (Resident Assistant). So sad. So tragic.
Ironically, the other day while flying back from Salt Lake City, I was talking with two of the other people who did the event with me about the subject of campus safety. In addition to being novelists, the other people who traveled with me also keep day jobs at universities in L.A. area.
We exchanged our stories of disgruntled students and the issue of campus safety. One currently has a threat around a grade change he won't make -- and the case (both the threat and the grade change demand) is going up the chain of command at the university. I don't have any current disgruntled students, though I do have a restraining order that expires this fall against someone who was deemed to pose a threat against my staff, me, and space. That's a bridge that will be crossed again in fall when it expires.
Anyway, we all agreed we think about safety all the time. How open (and empty) parking lots can be for an incident to happen. How accessible our offices can be, because as part of our jobs, we need to be accessible during office hours. How we have to "read" the mental health of every person we interact with in private and public settings on campus. How we never know what meds or mental health interventions students are taking or not taking to get them to what one would deem functional and rational.
So strange the world we live in. So sad that what many see as a fortress and shield from the "real world" can mirror the incidents of the "real world."