Last night, someone walked into the main library on campus and opened fire. At the time, they reported about 400 people in that library. It didn’t use to be so packed; when I was going to school, people utilized the library as inoften as they could – just when they needed to get a book and it was widely known that only the most hardcore students studied there. Over the past decade, the school has spent millions renovating and making it the central hub of student activity. There are more, faster computers, study areas, private rooms for group work, and a Starbucks. It’s open 24 hours many days, too.
You hear about these things happening on campuses across America but it hasn’t hit this close to home. As far as I know, the last time something truly scary happened on FSU’s campus was when Ted Bundy killed two sorority girls at Chi Omega. We were obviously dealing with a serial killer then. These school shooters seem to be of a different breed, usually driven to madness by school-related pressure. We don’t know yet who the shooter was but something is bothering me, and I find it actually interesting that I feel this way.
If the gunman was a student, then I am not entirely sure how I feel about the police killing him. From the news reports, they asked him to drop his weapon after he had opened fire on the library and when he turned his weapons on them and began firing, they shot and killed him. If he was a student and I were, say, his mother, I might immediately think that the police should have aimed for the knees or legs and taken him down. But I do not think he should have been killed on site. This then seeps into the argument of what role police play. Are they peace-keepers or low-level military? What is protocol in this situation? It seems from recent events, they don’t have any sort of tactical plan; they shoot to kill the second they feel the least bit threatened. This calls into question when this shift occurred. I want to believe that it used to be that they would do what they had to do to bring the offender to justice, not simply end the life and wipe their hands of it.
Today, the entire campus is sort of sad and distraught about this and I myself am torn. I am so bad about determining how big of a deal something is. On the one hand, it is awful that someone thinks that killing innocents is the answer. In the grand scheme of things, no one was killed aside from the shooter and the fact that staff members (myself) have to still report to work indicates that it’s not life-shattering. What level of “bad” is this? How do we feel about it? Everyone keeps posting hashtags #WeAreAllFSU everywhere and though I agree with the solidarity, it sometimes feels forced. Again, I don’t KNOW how to feel about any of this. But typing it out helps.
Campus is quiet. I had to park in a different lot because my usual place was reserved for people for the afternoon press conference. Imagine being school officials at this time. What to say about this? Parents will claim there’s not enough security, but there is. And would we send our children to a school who regularly posted cops at the entrance to the library? No. It’s a scene that denotes am inherently dangerous space, which 99% of the time, it is not. It’s a difficult now to think about this and what it ultimately means. I certainly don’t really know but it has brought about many questions. I am conflicted. And for today, I will push through and keep thinking about the bigger ideas at hand.