It's easy to assume that because we're students on a college campus, nothing dangerous can happen. As the tragedy that resulted in the death of a Binghamton University faculty member proved Friday, this is far from the case (see Page 1).
It is true that college is somewhat of a bubble; many of us are still supported by our parents, and for the most part there is no need to worry about things like medical insurance or having a place to live. This doesn't mean that we can afford to simply walk around oblivious to our surroundings; people on campus can be dangerous too.
According to the people he lived with, Abdulsalam al-Zahrani was confrontational and argumentative. According to the Press & Sun Bulletin, he pulled a knife on a house-mate and yelled note-worthy comments such as "I just feel like destroying the world." Though in this situation referring the case to a professional did not prevent the tragedy, it is important not to take such warning signs for granted. As easy as it is to get caught up in college life, exams and work, if you notice people behaving in irrational or dangerous ways, consider speaking to someone about it.
It may not always be possible to prevent senseless violence, but it is important to at least be aware of it.
This is necessary in other situations, as well.
Binghamton's New York State University Police has said that they have received zero sexual abuse or rape incidents reports in the fall 2009 semester (see Page 4). But, since 60 percent of such incidents do not get reported, this does not mean that students can let their guard down. In an atmosphere where drugs and alcohol are so common, the danger still exists.
To quote "Harry Potter's" Mad Eye Moody, "Constant Vigilance" is necessary.
With finals coming around the corner, this is now more true than ever. It has become commonplace for students who have put off studying all semester to stop sleeping as exams approach, or to indulge in studying tools such as caffeine pills or Adderall. As stress and chemical levels increase, so do stupid decisions. It's important to be aware of this and to look out for your safety, as well as that of those around you.
This need for caution doesn't end with the semester. Winter break allows us the chance to stop studying and relax for more than a month, often in areas with significantly more opportunities for doing so than Binghamton; when you're in bars or at parties back home, be aware of your surroundings as well.
We may be college students, but we are, for the most part, young adults as well. It's our responsibility to protect ourselves.