Working at my school, I've heard a few stories. There was a bomb threat to the courts that used to be in the top floors of our building so the school was evacuated once, but the courts have since moved. There was a threat to the Dean made on Facebook by a student, but she was "crazy" and off her meds - while it was taken seriously, it was never seen as a genuine threat. These stories make those ripped from the headlines type stories hit a lot closer to home.
I office in the Office of the President and Dean. The guy in charge. My office is across a small suite from the Academic Dean. The one whose name is on the dismissals, who sees students about appealing decisions over grades and disputes. Most of them are professional and perfectly harmless, but you never know. 1300 students with 1300 different backgrounds enter the building I work in every day. And you just never know.
We recently had panic buttons installed on every computer in the building, which is as proactive as it is terrifying. I hope I never need to use it. But it's nice that it's there. My office door has a lock, but it also has a window wider than the door. There's nowhere to hide but under the desk. The fact that I have wondered what I would do enough times to actually have a plan is scary.
Scary people - whether they suffer from mental illness, hold a grudge, or just have a lot of misplaced anger - can obviously do what they intend to anywhere. I don't need to tell you how sad it is when innocent lives are lost for absolutely no reason. But every time something happens, like yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood - another senseless, violent act, and a second at that base in five years - I wonder why, and I wonder if it will ever be me. My school, my mall, my grocery store. I understand that some people choose to protect their property and have guns to do just that, but I don't understand why an average citizen needs a semi-automatic weapon that is capable of so much damage, so fast.
I don't want to get political. I just want to be a little sad, and a little scared. And a whole lot irrationally optimistic that there's some way for this senseless violence to end and we can go back to feeling safe in places where a large number of people are gathered.
Thinking of those at Fort Hood today, both the lives lost and those who felt their safety threatened once again.