At town halls over this last week you have invoked the Virginia Tech massacre on multiple occasions to defend a need for a weaponized police forces on college campuses. When students and faculty are professing concerns about the campus police, I ask you if such a reference is relevant or appropriate.
As a native Virginian, I hold a deep conviction that the events of April 16, 2007 should never become a catchphrase to conjure up fear for a broad variety of campus safety issues. Clearly, the fears I felt in the crowd on the UC Davis Quad were entirely different to those of a school shooting and should be respected as such.
Not once on the day of the massacre itself or during the memorial services have I been comforted by the thought of more weapons on college campuses, regardless of the hands that hold them. In fact, the 32 deaths of students and faculty in 2007 have prompted legislation that limited the use of guns, not broadened their application.
I realize that “Virginia Tech” is now a phrase that describes the realities of administrating higher education; such notoriety has led to useful reforms such as the WarnMe system that alerts UC Davis students of safety hazards. Nevertheless, I would ask you and the UCD administration not to refer to the tragic events of another community in such an offhand manner. Just as language referencing the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 should not be used to support the Patriot Act, I urge all of us to avoid utilizing the massacre at Virginia Tech to explain the unfortunate events on our own campus.
Perhaps Virginia Tech could instead serve as an economic model for UC Davis; Virginia public schools facing budget cuts have managed to keep tuition within a reasonable price range, which to me, is a far higher priority than weaponizing the police.
Graduate student, comparative literature