Chronicle of Higher Education

Mr. Peretz, I have enjoyed your posting recently on the Virginia Tech tragedy. As more and more revelations emerge about Cho Seung-Hui, and the ample warning signs that he may be a threat, more and more fingers are being thrust at various university authorities. Fair enough. But I want to draw your attention to a short essay we published today by The Chronicle of Higher Education by Gary Lavergne, who literally wrote the book on Charles Joseph Whitman--the infamous University of Texas sniper. Lavergne runs through the litany of theories that people have put forth over the years to explain Whitman's actions, but he cautions that while "it is our mission in higher education to investigate and determine, as best we can, if there are "dots" to be connected...during our inquiry we should not delude ourselves or ignore the obvious. A detailed account of his actions shows that Charles Whitman was fully conscious of what he was doing. He could not have done what he did otherwise." Lavergne acknowledges that there are lessons we can learn.But "before we identify and learn the lessons of Blacksburg, we must begin with the obvious: More than four dozen innocent people were gunned down by a murderer who is completely responsible for what happened. No one died for lack of text messages or an alarm system. They died of gunshot wounds." Free link All best, Evan Evan Goldstein The Chronicle of Higher Education