This article is a continuation of my previous essay, “A Uniquely American Problem.” I discussed the recent Michigan State University shooting, as well as American mass shootings in general. I encourage you to read it, though doing so isn’t necessary to understand this piece.
I originally did not plan on writing an article this week. My week had been stressful enough, and I felt that laboring at my laptop this weekend would be a patently bad idea. However, as we are all aware, this weekend did not go as planned for anyone. Considering everything that I’ve already said on the larger issue of gun violence, I thought it would make sense to get my opinions on what happened out there.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. The College’s response was completely deplorable.
When a gun is fired inside a building on campus on the busiest night of the year, the “response” of the College does not just include how quickly cops show up. It also includes the manner and timeliness with which students are informed about what is happening. This is where the response was lacking.
I will not speculate on what exactly the College’s internal response and decision-making entailed, for I am not the Administration. At the time of writing on Sunday night, no new information has been released regarding their response. I am ignorant of how exactly they handled the situation, but I can clearly see that the lack of proper communication cost us dearly.
It doesn’t matter that nobody died. It doesn’t matter that no one was injured. People thought that they were going to get hurt. People genuinely feared for their lives. Judging the severity and seriousness of an event involving a gun purely by the number of casualties is a very poor and foolish metric. The fact that a gun fired twice at a Doghead party did not hit a single person is an absolute miracle. This weekend could have ended so much worse.
In addition, guns can hurt people in a lot more ways than physically, as has unfortunately become apparent to much of the student body now. I urge all of you to not discredit the experiences of anyone on campus that night. We all have different backgrounds, and we all process stress and potentially traumatic events differently. Do not invalidate the feelings, fears, and anger of our peers. No one will be quick to forget that night.
For an outside perspective, Michigan State University informed students about their active shooter situation exactly fifteen minutes after shots were first reported. This is still an extremely long time. A lot of people could die in fifteen minutes. But you know what was even longer? The nearly hour-long wait between shots fired at the apartments and the College’s first message to the campus acknowledging the incident.
As an open campus, the College cannot feasibly prevent occurrences like what happened this past Doghead from occurring again. A heightened security presence won’t stop someone from showing up on campus with a gun. We also do not have the resources to vigilantly verify the identity of every single visitor we get.
Gun violence in higher education won’t ever truly be solved or fixed until gun violence in all its of its forms is dealt with. Reading about Maine’s gun laws is harrowing. For example, there is no kind of permit necessary for concealed carry.
Although the College bans this, the lack of any common sense laws in Maine is disturbing.
Regardless of the College’s power to prevent these potential tragedies, it is of vital importance that the College actually communicates with the student body when emergencies occur. Whoever was in charge that night should have had the self-awareness to know that nearly all of campus was awake, and a very high proportion of them wasn’t sober. If the College had told us what was going on sooner — even if it was just a simple text to shelter in place — there would have been much less chaos, heartache, and trauma.
~ Pat Mallory `26