Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Invincible?

College is (or should be) about students, but what I have come to realize is that their wants, priorities, expectations and reactions to events are far different than mine. Maybe we have a different frame of reference, or maybe they are still living the “I am invincible” life. What I think should be common sense doesn’t even register with many students today — and I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way.

Last week I sat next to a recent grad on my flight back from a safety and security conference. We talked about security on college campuses; what has changed and what hasn’t. He indicated that he lived in Christiansburg, Virginia — about 10 minutes outside of Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech campus. Although he didn’t attend Virginia Tech he was often on campus, and remains greatly affected by the April 16, 2007 incident wherein 32 people and the shooter lost their lives. He, like many, won’t forget. Unfortunately, he felt that too many already did.

One of the main questions raised after the shooting was if administrators waited too long to warn students about a shooter on campus. It came as no surprise that as I walked the trade show floor I found emergency alert/mass notification systems everywhere, from the simple to the sophisticated. Almost all the systems included direct text messaging to students. What surprised me is that so many students are unwilling participate in this service and see it as an unwanted bother, rather than for their protection. This is especially true in light of the recent FBI study that showed active shooter incidents have been are occurring more frequently, and 70 percent of these incidents “occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment.”

The question is: did we who are the parents of today’s college students focus too much on trying to convince our children that they are strong, can do anything, are invincible? Or did we try to protect them to the point where they do not think about protecting themselves? A recent survey by a security agency showed more than 70 percent of parents listed student safety and security as a priority. When students were asked, safety and security didn’t even make the list. Do our students think their safety and security is someone else’s responsibility, or is it that they think they are invincible? No matter the reason for student apathy, we must get through to our students and teach them that they are not invincible, that everything is not someone else’s responsibility, and that they are the first line of defense when it comes to their own safety!

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of College Planning & Management.

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