Since the Virgina Tech tragedy last spring, universities have beefed up security both in numbers and how they operate. The University of Chicago, Northwestern and my daughter's school district all recently implemented instant alert systems that emails and texts me, and call my home, mobile and office (which forwards to my mobile). But none of these preparations can stop a single incident like at Northern Illinois or the shooting death of University of Chicago graduate student Amadou Cisse last November during a robbery attempt, or an outright terrorist attack.
Nothing short of a fenced in perimeter with airport-style security can really keep a campus safe. So must we have an unsafe academic environment? If fact we don't. The number of campus shootings is quite low, considerably less than deaths due to suicide or alcohol abuse. Campus shootings just get more press because they are rare and often have multiple victims. These press reports never seem to mention that the vast majority of college student somehow manage to graduate without permanent injuries of any kind.