THE Scholarly Web - 2 May 2013

Weekly transmissions from the blogosphere

May 2, 2013

“At this writing, I’m still reeling from the news of the Boston Marathon explosions. Rumors are flying, and nobody yet knows who did it or why. I hope that by the time people read this, we’ll know.”

These were the words of Matt Reed, vice-president of academic affairs at Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts on his Confessions of a Community College Dean blog, hosted by Inside Higher Ed, on the evening of the double bomb attack in Boston on 15 April, which left three people dead and more than 170 injured.

“Just a few months ago, about an hour south of here, a man with multiple guns killed twenty children in an elementary school. Since then, we’ve had incidents resulting in either lockdowns or evacuations at several community colleges in Connecticut and Massachusetts. And those didn’t even make the national news,” he writes, as the international media descended on Massachusetts.

“Now we’re talking about doing lockdown drills at the college. We’ve had a threat assessment team for several years, and we’re increasing our attention to details at a level that I would have considered silly until recently,” he adds. Three days later, Sean Collier, a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would be shot dead in his vehicle as the authorities hunted for the bombing suspects.

“On [our] campus, we’ll return to the sad but necessary work of doing what we can reasonably do to keep people safe. And we’ll just have to accept that at some point, that’s all we can do. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about my friends in Boston.”

Rosemarie Emanuele, professor and chair of the department of mathematics at Ursuline College, Ohio, used the Mama Phd blog, also hosted by Inside Higher Ed, to remember her graduate school days at Boston College.

“Its main campus may be found entirely on one side of a main road, Commonwealth Avenue. I found myself thinking of this over the past week, since Commonwealth Avenue is part of the route taken by the Boston Marathon,” she writes.

“I found out about the events in Boston when I picked my daughter up from her track practice on Monday,” she continues. “And as I learn of these things, I wonder how to talk to my daughter about terrorism, since this is the first time she has been aware of such horrors as they happened, or felt any personal connection to the events. Indeed, even talk of September 11 seems like ancient history to her.”

She asks her readers how they would talk to their children about such “horrible events”. “How do you make sure that knowledge of this darker side of human nature does not affect their sense of safety in the world?”

She concludes: “These questions were on my mind as I accompanied my daughter to the bus stop these past few mornings. As I hugged her goodbye and then watched her ride off, waving to me with a big smile on her face, I realized that her safety was the most important thing in my life right now. It is also something over which I seem to have less and less control.”

Send links to topical, insightful and quirky online comment by and about academics to chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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