Last Thursday, Steve Kasmierczak walked into an afternoon science class at Northern Illinois University and opened fire, injuring 18 and killing six, including himself. This horrible tragedy marks the second campus shooting in less than a year, forcing universities across the country to ask themselves, “Are we doing enough?”

What makes Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois any different than any other campus? After the Virginia Tech shooting, President Seligman assured students that UR was taking every precaution to ensure the students’ safety. Again, after Northern Illinois, students were assured of their safety and the new security system that is about to be enacted.

Here at UR, we often feel that we are in our own little bubble. However, it is becoming evidently clear that there is no glass wall shielding us from harsh realities; we are not impenetrable. This year especially, there seems to be a wave of robberies on and off campus, the most recent of which occurred just outside Hoyt Auditorium. If we cannot feel safe just leaving class, how can we feel certain that our university can truly protect us? If faced with a gun to our heads, we will no longer be able to ignore the ugly truths about our campus, our city and our country. Besides a blue light phone, students are more often than not left on their own. Unfortunately, it has become clear that blue lights are not enough.

As college students, we walk the fine line between childhood and adulthood. It is not feasible or reasonable to have a security officer holding our hands on our walks home. We have to take some of the responsibility ourselves.

Is it really wise to leave our laptops, iPods, phones or keys in the middle of the library unattended? Should we really walk around with headphones in our ears? We would only be na’ve to believe that our small community consists only of honorable and moral people. While it is the University’s responsibility to ensure the utmost security for its students, it is dually the students’ responsibilities to not give anyone an invitation to breach that security.

If we are to learn anything from Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois, let it be the seemingly obvious fact that we are not, as we would like to believe, immortal. As college students, we have very few responsibilities outside of academics.

We are known for partying and perhaps studying. Yet is this truly the reputation we want to uphold?

We study with the specific goal in mind to do well. We do well for the specific goal of getting to that next level. But instead of working for tomorrow, why not work for today?

We are told that we are on our way to becoming who we want to be, who we are supposed to be. What are we waiting for? The world is unpredictable and uncertain. Campus is not the safe haven we would like it to be.

We are not children, and we don’t have people to protect us anymore. We must take responsibility for our own actions and make ourselves proud of our four years here. These four years are not a guarantee or a right but rather a unique opportunity. The University and the student body must unite together to make sure nothing happens to that opportunity.

Silk is a member of the class of 2010.


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