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The stabbing on campus Monday morning was horrible, terrifying and a ridiculous random act of violence. There is no question about the severity of the incident or its impact on freshman stabbing victim Michael Knorps.
That being said, the rush to place blame on someone, some system or some failed oversight, is useless. The university’s promise to perform background checks on future hires is promising, but in this case, how would it have prevented the stabbing?
Kenton Astin, the alleged stabber, has a checkered past with a history of mental illness. Also a previous employee of the UMC, Astin, whether he had been denied employ by the university due to previous encounters with the law or not, would still have been able to get onto campus with any type of weapon.
I’m not advocating a closed campus, increased security, metal detectors in buildings or any other changes. All that I’m suggesting is that this incident highlights a greater societal issue.
The issue at stake is twofold: how do we, as a community care for our unstable, homeless, mentally ill or otherwise downtrodden; and do we need to walk around more afraid of our surroundings?
The latter answer must be a resounding “no. ” Living your life afraid, paranoid or unsure of your surroundings will do nothing but turn you into a cynical pessimist, and there are plenty of them around already.
Random acts of violence are just that — random — and there is no way to prepare for every kind of incident. Kudos to the university for their purchase of the text message alert system. It will be useful in the future, I’m sure. However, background checks, text messages and emails can only do so much.
The root of the issue is buried in the way we treat and handle the less fortunate in our society. Those with mental disabilities, financial issues and other assorted problems are more often than not ignored and forgotten. While I in no way have an answer to better these issues and problems, I have a feeling that on a campus of nearly 30,000 students and faculty, someone must. The university should work with the community at large to better care for its less fortunate members.
This may not be the answer, but it will make us a model for other communities and campuses around the country. Perhaps we can work together to better our community.
Contact Campus Press editor Justin Kutner at Justin.Kutner@colorado.edu