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Does this seem incongruous to anyone else? (-cnn)
October 28, 2002 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Does this seem incongruous to anyone else? (-cnn) Two professors were shot and killed Monday at the University of Arizona's College of Nursing A student was "disgruntled" at the professors and shot at them. I am (sadly) not too surprised that something like this would happen on a college campus, but it does seem strange that it would happen at the College of Nursing.
posted by valval22 (48 comments total)

 
Does this seem incongruous to anyone else?

Seems like murder to me. Sad, indeed.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2002


'the gunman'. Everything is 'the gunman'. I am curious as to what the gender of the gunman is.
posted by kristin at 11:01 AM on October 28, 2002


mUrder baD.
posted by mediareport at 11:17 AM on October 28, 2002


The gunman was male. Law enforcement officers who saw his body refer to him as male (although I suppose it could be a Billy Tipton thing).

It's interesting that people suggest that saying "the gunman" or using "he" and "his" about a suspect in a crime is sexist, when many of the same people (not you, in this case, Kristin--I'm actually thinking of some of the talking heads on Fox) suggest that saying "policeman" or "chairman" doesn't automatically make people think that the person in that role is male.

If "policeman" means "police officer, either male or female," then why doesn't "gunman" mean "person shooting with gun, either male or female"?

I don't think it does, but I also don't think that English speakers think of a "policeman" without thinking of a male police officer
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:18 AM on October 28, 2002


Yeah- I prefer the gender neutral term "cop".
posted by small_ruminant at 11:25 AM on October 28, 2002


A witness said a student angry over being barred from midterm exams entered a classroom and began shooting with a handgun.

Though obviously not relevant to the culpability of the shooter, I'm wondering, just out of curiosity, why he was barred from midterm exams? (financial reasons, discipline problem, academic problem, ...)
posted by originalname37 at 11:40 AM on October 28, 2002


About a year ago, I had a prof that I honestly had thoughts of shooting. Very pompous, treated us all like high school students, attendance policy. Picture your standard stupid, inflexible, power-struggle style authority figure in a teen movie. Going back to school in my late twenties this was particularly hard to bear, especially when circumstances came up that required some flexibility and it took me a month to persuade him that this wasn't about some stupid trick to get out of anything and I had all the coursework for the next month plus already completed anyway. During that time, the fantasy of simply blowing him away crossed my mind more than once.

Fortunately, the part of my brain/soul/whatever that keeps me from doing stupid and/or wrong things effectively checked any such desires. I don't know what to conclude from the experience, really. Do you make a more effective way to redress grievances and/or address issues? Or are some people just broken and determined to kill? I didn't shoot anybody, but the former would have gone a long way towarads addressing frustration.

One more thing: good solid hard criminal penalties played a role in my rational thought process.
posted by namespan at 11:48 AM on October 28, 2002


*slowly and silently edges away from namespan*
posted by dagny at 12:02 PM on October 28, 2002


oh who cares, we have guns, we are angry, we hear and see violence all around us, why not exercise it then....
posted by bureaustyle at 12:03 PM on October 28, 2002


I read the central question of this post as "Nurses (and people who want to be nurses) are nice people. Why would a nice person do this?"

I'm related to many nurses. They are not nicer than other people on average. Not at all.

As for the "gunman" part, well, if it was a man, then the term is correct. Although I would challenge anyone to find me a gunwoman in a similar event. When women kill, it's usually their kids, or an abusive husband. Now, I'm in no way saying that killing your kids is better, or worse, than this type of event. I'm just relating statistics.
posted by Red58 at 12:05 PM on October 28, 2002


*slowly and silently edges away from namespan*

ditto.
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:12 PM on October 28, 2002


About a year ago, I had a prof that I honestly had thoughts of shooting. Very pompous, treated us all like high school students, attendance policy

If the class was full of freshman, I guarantee most of them still acted like they were in high school or worse. And an attendance policy? Get over it. If you don't like the rules of the class, you can always drop. If a prof thinks attendance is important, that's as fair as grading on any other aspect of your performance in the class.

Back to the topic, what worries me is that political pressures will force the university to implement expensive and useless security policies in an doomed attempt to prevent such a thing from happening again.
posted by daveadams at 12:17 PM on October 28, 2002


Re Sidhedevil's comment above: I think a lot of it has to do with how the word is pronounced. In other words, very few people fully enunciate the word man as part of chairman, probably a few more w/policeman - but 'man' in gunman is distinctly pronounced and specifically conjures a male image.
posted by widdershins at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2002


One more thing: good solid hard criminal penalties played a role in my rational thought process

Oh, I missed this the first time around...

Really? It was necessary for you to think about the legal consequences of murder before you decided against it? I say this in a caring and concerned way: You need to seek therapy. Please?
posted by daveadams at 12:20 PM on October 28, 2002


I'd be interested to know, namespan, if shooting that prof was your initial reaction to your frustration, like it may have been for the shooter in AZ, or like the recent teen shooter in Oklahoma. It seems that shooting someone who pisses you off is becoming more of a first option rather than other, less violent means of confronting people who frustrate us. These events, along with the sniper case, should make for some interesting debates regarding gun control, media violence, etc. I'll just try not to piss anybody off, in case their rational thought processes don't include solid hard criminal penalties.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:23 PM on October 28, 2002


After giving up college teaching I returned for one course this year. Some of my students are killing me slowly with their work.
posted by Postroad at 12:23 PM on October 28, 2002


I didn't think the post implied that nursing students were "nice" people, I thought the point was that here was violence against other humans amongst people who are meant to heal instead.
posted by agregoli at 12:24 PM on October 28, 2002


but 'man' in gunman is distinctly pronounced

It is?

specifically conjures a male image.

Right, but how much of that is due to the word used and how much is the (usually correct) stereotype that crazed shooters turn out to be men? When I hear of a "shooter" who killed multiple people, I usually think of a male. I think it's just my brain mapping the facts from other such cases into this one.
posted by daveadams at 12:25 PM on October 28, 2002


That's nonsense widdershins. The cultural assumption for just about every profession is a white, christian, heterosexual man. You don't hear the expression "Gentleman lawyer" or "Christian Lawyer" or Straight Lawyer" do you? Or Male cop? (But we've all heard Lady lawyer, Jewish lawyer, Gay whatever profession) No, we only differentiate in these things when they deviate from our perceived norm.

Although, lower paid jobs, and jobs that have implied female nurturing, or "lack of manliness: such as nursing and secretarial, then we hear Male nurse, or male secretary.
posted by Red58 at 12:27 PM on October 28, 2002


Yikes. I had just gotten through teaching a freshman class when I heard about this. On a day I handed back papers, no less. Perhaps I'd better hide out in my office awhile. I wonder if there was any indication that the student in question was at such a breaking point. My kiddos all seem like sweet fresh-faced freshmen, eager to please, lazy perhaps but not abominably so. What goes wrong, I wonder?
I also hope that this string of high profile gun cases (sniper, this, diplomat in Jordan (I think it was Jordan, could be wrong)) doesn't lead directly to justification for stronger gun laws. Not to turn a tragedy political, but it will probably happen anyway.
posted by anyasar at 12:29 PM on October 28, 2002


Hmm - I think you got me, daveadams. I distinctly pronounce 'man' in gunman, but on second thought, I guess that's not necessarily the norm.
daveadams 1, widdershins 0
posted by widdershins at 12:30 PM on October 28, 2002


There have been several instances of students (usually graduate students) murdering their faculty, with the most famous instance being Theodore Streliski, a "permanent" graduate student at Stanford. I think that the frequency of such events is higher in the sciences than the humanities, but I'm not sure. (Although my father, a historian, tells me that he's had to deal with at least one student who threatened to murder his professor.)

Academic penalties are usually the key motivation in such acts of violence--failing one's dissertation or qualifying exam, for example. That sounds like the case here.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:30 PM on October 28, 2002


Someday we are going to classify "poor impulse control" as a serious public health issue....
posted by mrmanley at 12:35 PM on October 28, 2002


Red58, was not arguing that there is no inherent sexism in names for professions; just had a brainfart re the ones w/'man' in the title. And realized I was wrong.

...skulking back to my cave now...
posted by widdershins at 12:36 PM on October 28, 2002


At least in my dialect, the "-man" is equally accented in "gunman" and "policeman." The etymology and syntactic structures are the same as well.

So, again--why would "gunman" be sexist but "policeman" not be sexist?

Women make up a much higher percentage of police officers than they do of persons committing violent offenses using firearms (at least in the United States).
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:37 PM on October 28, 2002


Very pompous, treated us all like high school students, attendance policy

Would you believe I've been bitched at -- by students -- for not having an attendance policy?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:39 PM on October 28, 2002


I didn't think the post implied that nursing students were "nice" people, I thought the point was that here was violence against other humans amongst people who are meant to heal instead.

Yes.... Nurses will often cite one of the differences between themselves and doctors is their attention to patient care and healing, rather than simply eradication of disease, etc.
posted by valval22 at 12:42 PM on October 28, 2002


(someone is totally going to use this to try to take away my right to get high and shoot shit -- damn)
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:43 PM on October 28, 2002


One more thing: good solid hard criminal penalties played a role in my rational thought process.[namespan]

Did you own a gun at the time? If not, do you think that that might have helped too? (otherwise you would also have had to sustain a murderous rage throughout the process of procuring a gun)
posted by originalname37 at 12:49 PM on October 28, 2002


Right now, the local papers are covering it here

and here.
posted by eckeric at 12:57 PM on October 28, 2002


"Would you believe I've been bitched at -- by students -- for not having an attendance policy?"

I also heard a number of students' complaints regarding my attendance policy (or, more accurately, lack thereof). Curious. I've a difficult time imagining that mindset.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:09 PM on October 28, 2002


I see that FOX news is now referring to the shooter as "Robert Stewart Flores, a flunking student...".

A flunking student? What does it take to declare flunking as one's major?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:17 PM on October 28, 2002


ROU_Xenophobe, those students probably just wanted some type of extra grade to help them. The complaints come from the ones who always come to class but dont do so well with thier work, thinking they should get something for nothing.
posted by Recockulous at 1:17 PM on October 28, 2002


I also heard a number of students' complaints regarding my attendance policy (or, more accurately, lack thereof). Curious. I've a difficult time imagining that mindset.

If your students are like my students, they may want you to provide them with a regimen--any sort of regimen--that will structure their decision-making. An attendance policy is reassuring, no matter how draconian it is. (Speaking as someone who has been sending out the equivalent of "start showing up or fail" warning notices.) It's similar to the question I regularly get from my advisees: "what do I need to take?" The question "what do I want to take?" rarely seems to come up.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2002


/What does it take to declare flunking as one's major?

I tried declaring that as my major, but they sent me to the philosophy department.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:54 PM on October 28, 2002


..... hear gunman, I think O' they don't have the full details yet. Why? the news loves to label, as gunman seems another plain term for suspected shooter.

When they know whom the gunm?n is, your hear: age, color, sex, marital status and then something about employment or student status.

The description of the gun w/ shooter in the news is when I know they have their man or woman.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:05 PM on October 28, 2002


There have been several instances of students (usually graduate students) murdering their faculty, with the most famous instance being Theodore Streliski, a "permanent" graduate student at Stanford.

There was also the case of Gang Lu, a physics/astronomy grad student at the University of Iowa who shot and killed 5 and injured a 6th (all faculty or academic staff) before killing himself in November, 1991. The week it happened, I had just been accepted into grad school at Iowa (in a completely unrelated field), and I remember thinking rather morbidly "god, is it grad school that's that bad, or Iowa?"
posted by scody at 2:20 PM on October 28, 2002


If your students are like my students, they may want you to provide them with a regimen--any sort of regimen--that will structure their decision-making.

That's my guess, more or less. Some of them want to be forced to come to class, because they know they won't otherwise...

Why the sure and certain knowledge that they're going to fail the tests isn't incentive enough, I haven't figured out yet. And I'm pretty sure I don't want to.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:21 PM on October 28, 2002


The Tucson Citizen is now stating that the three victims have been identified:

"Three professors were shot to death at University of Arizona's College of Nursing this morning and the alleged gunman apparently killed himself shortly afterward, according to police.

The three: Robin Rogers, Cheryl McGaffic and Barbara Monroe, all were clinical assistant professors at the nursing college."

posted by eckeric at 3:36 PM on October 28, 2002


a friend graduated from the college of nursing here at the university of arizona just last may. from what she tells me, the program is extremely difficult and stressful. she used to get all crazy-like 'round midterms and finals.

for the record, things seem to be pretty normal here on the main campus (the shooting took place at the college of nursing/university medical center on an adjacent, but set-apart campus). the professor of my one class didn't mention anything about it, and didn't seem nervous or anything. he's a nut, though, so things are probably different in other classrooms.

also, today was the opening day for season ticket sales for the UofA men's basketball season. i guess it got drowned out by the shooting, but there was a riot/fight around 7am when the lines opened. crazy day here on campus, but the weather's fucking great!
posted by carsonb at 3:42 PM on October 28, 2002


Also, this appears to be a statement from University of Arizona President Peter Likins.
posted by eckeric at 3:44 PM on October 28, 2002


Flores was a Gulf War veteran, so was the Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad. Doesn't anybody see the connection with that insane war and the insane acts of these killers? Teach people how to kill and they will. I'm sure we can look forward to more of the same when soldiers return from the US war in Iraq.
posted by scotty at 4:01 PM on October 28, 2002


I work on the main UofA campus and you couldn't tell that anything had happened except for all the news coverage. People went to class and work as normal.
posted by ddmmyyyy at 4:02 PM on October 28, 2002


The main U of A campus is like a different world from the Arizona Health Sciences Center though...I graduated from the College of Pharmacy, next door to the College of Nursing, and we never knew about -anything- happening on the main campus until we read about it in the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
posted by mokujin at 4:15 PM on October 28, 2002


I'm obviously going to have to clarify a few things here. I suppose a "I had thoughts of shooting someone once" post might require such... so:

(1) I never actually PLANNED to shoot the prof in question. However, I was extremely ticked off, and personal circumstances in my life a year ago were rendering me just a tad unstable, I was short tempered, prone to depression, and had a period of a few weeks where every time I'd think about this guy, the train of thought would run towards how satisfying it might be to shoot the guy. Sometimes accompanied with images.

(2) Restraint of said thoughts/impulses was accomplished by reasoning with myself on two tracks:

(a) this is a good way to spend the rest of your life in jail
(b) it wasn't right

Either one may well have been sufficient by itself. Both occured to me. I used both.

(3) Take this in context -- I'm trying to understand a violent event. Note that I didn't shoot anybody. I figured out a way around it, finally persuaded the guy, fixed what was mentally broken as best I could and got on with my life. This isn't the first time in my life I've thought about/envisioned violence, but it is the first time since 4rth grade (when I finally just jumped a bully who'd been threatening me for weeks) that I've ever acted on it. I wrote the above trying to understand the situation described by reaching inside and looking at my own violent tendencies. They're there, and they're a little disturbing, but they're checked (at least until I become brain damaged) by lots of thinking and years of habitually trying to defuse conflict in many ways. I won't say internal violence is a challenge that everybody has to face, but I know I'm not the only one with violence in my head sometimes. It's best not to have destructive and disturbing impulses, and I usually don't, but sometimes, it's how you handle it that counts. And sometimes, it's good to think about how society or an organization encourages or discourages that, even while you hold individuals accountable for their own actions.

So.... have I avoided cementing my reputation as bomb waiting to go off here?

If not, you'd better apologize....[skin turns faintest shade of green,voice deepens] you wouldn't like me when I'm angry....
posted by namespan at 5:46 PM on October 28, 2002


One more thing:

an attendance policy? Get over it. If you don't like the rules of the class, you can always drop. If a prof thinks attendance is important, that's as fair as grading on any other aspect of your performance in the class.

No. Absolutely wrong.

I've studied education and even done a brief stint teaching in public schools, and I feel I'm on pretty solid ground saying this. The only time attendance has any business being part of the grade is when the course is connected with a group/ensemble that performs or competes togehter in some way. So for a band, choir, chamber ensemble, baseball team, drill or dance team, etc, yes, great -- you can't improve the group's performance without having them all there.

But for just about any academic subject, that's not true. It IS true that individual students can help others, and group discussion is helpful. But if an instructor can't fill in for a student who decides not to attend class, he/she isn't worth their paid-by-student-tuition salary. And if a student is able to keep up with (or exceed) the course without attending, there's no business penalizing them.

In the situation I mentioned above, we were mid-way through the semester and I had already completed 80% of the assignments for the entire semester. I probably understood the technology we were working with better than he did.... but he insisted it (a) wouldn't be fair to the other students and (b) he might change something while I was gone and (c) I didn't know as much as I thought I did anyway. I finally got him to relent by proposing to do a second term project for the class, since I already had completed the one required. Put the "fair" argument to rest, demonstrated I did know as much as I thought, and I told him I'd have friends in the class relay changes to me and take responsibility for that. As if it should have taken that much effort....

Sometimes stuff comes up after the drop deadline. Sometimes you need the class and can't drop it. Sometimes there's situations that need to be worked around. I find that outside the academic world, usually most situations can be negotiated to a point where requirements are met but there's some flexibility and people are treated like human beings. Even when you've got mortages and car payments and crap, there's deferments and forbearances -- even financial institutions recognize the need for flexibility. My experience has been that academia and public education is the place where people have to feel like they're God in their classroom and there are no exceptions...

No, not everybody is like that -- I wasn't when I was teaching. My rant is directed at those who think it ought to be that way, just because they've had too much exposure to immature students.
posted by namespan at 6:08 PM on October 28, 2002


ROU_Xenophobe, mr_crash_davis, and namespan:
I'm a college student, and I generally don't mind and almost appreciate attendance policies. Sometimes at 7 in the morning, the only thing that makes me get up is the fact that I'll get noticed if I don't. It helps me convince myself that I have to get up. Plus, the teacher does know you're there, you're making an effort and all that.

And yes, if me attending every day, going to out of class meetings, and going to office hours manages to get me through my math class with a C or better, by god I'm going to do it. Occasionally, you just want to convince the teacher you're doing the best you can, even if you're a bit slower than some.
posted by stoneegg21 at 6:21 PM on October 28, 2002


What should a newspaper do with a letter from a killer?

For those still following this story, Robert Stewart Flores Jr. sent a 22 page letter to the Star with the unhappy title of Communication from the Dead. I can't quite bring myself to read through it right now.
posted by eckeric at 7:36 AM on October 30, 2002


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