09/25/07 — A sad ending: More violence at a university should prompt soul-searching

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A sad ending: More violence at a university should prompt soul-searching

What makes a person who is involved in a fight with another student decide to take a gun, head for a campus hotspot and hunt down his foe?

What makes him aim a gun? What makes him ignore the innocent bystanders in the area and not worry if one of them will be caught by a stray bullet?

What makes a perceived slight so overwhelmingly important that law, what’s right and his future no longer are factors in a young man’s decision-making?

What makes him choose deadly force to settle an argument?

When we answer those questions, we will know what prompted a Delaware State University student to injure two people and threaten the life of another one day last week.

And maybe, after we hear his story and his rationale, we might be able to come up with a way to stop the increasing violence that seems to be becoming commonplace in dealings among young people these days.

And in the meantime, an 18-year-old faces serious charges that could destroy his life before it has even begun — and two others will have to deal with the memories of the fear and horror for the rest of their lives, too.

It is hard to describe what happened that day as anything except extremely and profoundly sad.

There has already been speculation that a turf battle between two student groups prompted the unrest that led to the shooting. University officials and students claim there is no such division on their campus.

And they might be right. This might be just an isolated incident between two individuals. It might have been a hotheaded young man who did not stop to think.

But even if they are right and this is just a one-time incident, there might be a reason to add another required course to every university freshman’s curriculum — and not just at Delaware State, either.

They can take it after they have completed the course on responsible alcohol use and the rules for handling yourself safely on a university campus.

This course would focus on conflict resolution, getting along with others and making choices. It could involve real-life examples of how to deal with those with whom you do not agree as well as the incredible life-changing consequences of making a choice to defend honor with violence.

This young man’s life has already been damaged. Responsible action now from his university and others could save another young person from the same fate.

Published in Editorials on September 25, 2007 11:15 AM