Sunday, October 18, 2009

And the violence continues...

I was going to post something fun today; a list of my favorite TV shows and other things I'm enamored with at the moment. But instead, when I woke up, I saw a friend's status saying that she was freaked out about the stabbing last night up at our main campus. I was slightly alarmed, but as violence seems to be a regular occurrence up there, I pushed it out of my mind and continued with my morning. My internet was down at home so I couldn't get online to check the sadly ubiquitous email from my school alerting us to the violence that had occurred. Typically, this violence is against women at the school, with frequent break-ins tied to sexual assaults, rapes, threats and attempted attacks. I headed to my local library and on the way got a text from a different friend asking if I had heard about what happened last night. I told her all I knew was there had been a stabbing, but knew nothing else.

It turns out that a student was stabbed in the middle of campus after a fire alarm was pulled, forcing everyone out of the Student Union. A fight ensued during the evacuation. This student was a 20 year old football player, a starting cornerback named Jasper Howard. He was stabbed multiple times, along with another student, and died shortly after in the hospital due to his injuries. This is, according to the Hartford Courant article, the third Connecticut college student murdered in the last 6 months. This is the first student of the three who was a man.
I have a paper to write and an exam to study for tomorrow, but I can't really focus. The stabber got away and is at large. I hope & pray that since so many people were around someone saw something that will help catch the killer. This is so tragic and terrible! UCONN has some serious issues with violence, security and safety of its student body that it needs to handle. What is so ironic about this murder and makes it even more tragic is that it comes on the heels of the 30th anniversary of the "Violence in Our Community" Metanoia, which means a changing of the mind. In 1979, there had been many incidents of racial violence and a brutal sexual assault of a grad student. Students demanded time to reflect and come to grips with what was happening on their campus. Campus was shut down for two days and all of the 10,000 students attended vigils, lectures and discussions on what was happening, why it was happening and how to try and stop it. Sadly, 30 years have passed, and as I mentioned before, we get emails all the time about violence at the main campus against women. The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and UCONN is observing Metanoia all month long at all of our campuses. We have planned events that work to raise awareness, educate, and help those who have been victims of violence know they aren't alone. A major aim is to get the alarming facts out there: 90% of the time, a sexual assault victim knows their attacker; 1 in 4 women by the age of 21 have been victims of sexual assault; and most importantly, no matter what, it is not the victim's fault.

Violence in our community is clearly still happening, and at an alarming rate. A friend commented on this murder on fb asking the very serious question "How many deaths will it take till too many have to die?"
We're all waiting, working, praying, and hoping the answer is no more.

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