With the recent death of a local teacher at John Tyler High School, students and teachers may be concerned about who is sitting next to them in class.
Recently, a TJC student pulled out a knife in class and used it as a prop in a speech he was giving on taping skateboards.
“I don’t think he’s a threat. He just frightened us,” said Jeanie Carter, adjunct professor, “after the stabbing last week, no one should bring a knife around.”
The student was asked several times to give the knife to the teacher, but he refused. He later walked out of class.
“I contacted my department chair, Lara Smith, and she contacted Campus Safety,” said Carter.
Carter did exactly what she has been taught to do. If a suspicious situation arises, students and faculty are advised to contact Campus Safety. TJC has guards on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the safety of students and employees while on campus.
Additionally, anyone who commits a violent act will not be allowed to return to campus.
“Students or employees who commit violent acts, may it be on campus or off, we are not going to wait for the individual to be prosecuted. We will take action immediately,” said Melton. “If you’re a student, you will be removed from the dorms and suspended from school.”
The concerns are well founded considering the violence students have seen on campuses across the country.
More than 10 years ago on April 20, 1999, students 17-year-old Dylan Klebold and 18-year-old Eric Harris went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado killing 12 classmates, a teacher and then themselves.
Officials feel communication is key to preventing a tragedy like this.
“We do extra patrols and we try to keep communication lines open between Campus Safety and students,” said Mike Moseley, investigator at TJC Campus Safety.
However, like a public high school, anyone can enroll in TJC regardless of prior criminal history or mental instability.
“We have an open enrollment policy at TJC. People just bring us applications and we process them,” said David Gonzales, Admissions recruiter at TJC.
Recently, it seems the violence has moved to college campuses. On April 16, 2007, in Blacksburg, Va., a 23-year-old Virginia Tech student, Cho Seung-Hui, killed two in a dorm, then 30 more two hours later in a classroom building. His suicide brought the death toll to 33, making the shooting rampage the most deadly in U.S. history.
“Crimes of violence will not be acceptable on this campus. If we become aware of a threat, then we proceed to remove the threat,” Melton said.
Even before the Virginia Tech shooting, TJC had an early intervention team (EIT) to help students.
“We assist students with housing, issues they may have with teachers and we try to help salvage their education,” said Margaret Rapp, committee chair for the EIT and A.D.A. student coordinator and counselor.
This program is a group of administrators and professional employees who meet bi-weekly to discuss issues that students may have.
“Sometimes students just need someone to talk to, and if you can spot problems early, you can get them counseling they need,” said Rapp.
The meetings are a non-disciplinary approach taken by teachers who may have concerns about a student’s strange behavior. The program was established to keep major catastrophes from happening at TJC
“We’ve established this group to help with the challenges that we face being an open enrollment institution,” said Melton
More recently, on Feb. 8, 2008, a Louisiana Technical College nursing student shot and killed two women and then herself in a classroom. On Oct. 8, 2009, a student was arrested for slashing the throat of a fellow student in a chemistry lab at UCLA. The attacker and his erratic behavior had been a source of concern for professors for more than 10 months.
With events like these, it shows that school violence isn’t coming from one particular group or one specific demographic of students. It can happen anywhere at any time.
The student who used his knife in the speech demonstration is apologetic.
“I was on new medication, and it made me really anxious, especially having to give a speech, and right before