By Frank Cannistra
As a senior, I’m happy to say that I’ve spent pretty much every moment on the University of Tampa’s campus these past few years without worrying for a second that something tragic could happen at any moment. No matter how peaceful my time here has been, though, immediately after events like the tragedy at Michigan State a few days ago, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of dread, even in a place I’ve felt safe for so long.
On Feb. 13, 43-year-old Anthony McRae entered Michigan State’s campus and fatally murdered three students, wounding five others including paralyzing one student from the waist down. The tragedy is yet another instance in a recent string of school shootings, and another reminder of just how dangerous mass-meeting areas like college campuses can be.
In times like these, we tend to think about ourselves and put ourselves in the shoes of those involved. What if a shooter decided to make their way onto our campus. The unfortunate truth of the matter is, they absolutely could. That’s not to say that the university is doing anything wrong, but there’s not really a clear way to prevent a situation like this.
One could argue for some kind of security system to enter campus, but that would be a gigantic hassle for students and faculty alike. It would be a massive undertaking for UT, meaning it would be an almost impossible proposition for larger schools.
So an event like this begs the question, do we really feel safe on campus? The answer is simply no. There’s no way that any student at any university could ever feel fully protected against an event like this. With the current state of society, no person should feel safe anywhere they go. Especially when considering the details of Anthony McRae’s crime, there’s no valid reason to feel safe anywhere.
In 2019, McRae was arrested for possession of a weapon without a proper license to carry. The next year, the death of McRae’s mother led him to become reclusive and develop anger issues. Despite these obvious warning signs, McRae was still able to secure a gun and invade a public campus, raising a multitude of questions regarding gun control.
If there is any right answer here, perhaps it’s an increased security presence on campus. It presents budgetary and logistical issues, but should these issues continue to be prominent in our society, it might be something for the university to consider. It’s still not a foolproof plan to completely eliminate the opportunity for something tragic to happen, but in regard to making students feel safer, it might be the simplest, most realistic solution.
Considering how frequently tragic shootings have been occurring recently, it’s impossible for anyone to feel completely safe. While it’s not the universities fault, further instances like what happened in Michigan may force their hand into exploring ways to protect their students. The best bet would be to be ready for something to happen, instead of being reactionary and implementing a plan after it’s too late.