In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, many people have questioned the state's decision to make the university a "gun-free" zone, especially when it did nothing to prevent the attacker from bringing the weapons on campus. Noting the impossibility of securing a 2600-acre campus, the forced disarming of the student body and faculty has created a debate about the Second Amendment and the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. The debate has highlighted the differences between assuming roles as activists and victims.
Locally, the well-regarded Hamline University took the latter approach. After the shooting, the university offered counseling and coping assistance, even though the shooting had taken place 1500 miles away. Grad student Tony Scheffler took exception to that, and replied to the e-mail that perhaps a better solution would be to allow Hamline students the ability to defend themselves. As Mitch Berg notes, that's when Hamline decided that Scheffler required psychiatric treatment:
In the aftermath, officials at Hamline University sought to comfort their 4,000 students. David Stern, the vice president for academic and student affairs, sent a campus-wide email offering extra counseling sessions for those who needed help coping.
Scheffler had a different opinion of how the university should react. Using the email handle "Tough Guy Scheffler," Troy fired off his response: Counseling wouldn't make students feel safer, he argued. They needed protection. And the best way to provide it would be for the university to lift its recently implemented prohibition against concealed weapons.
"Ironically, according to a few VA Tech forums, there are plenty of students complaining that this wouldn't have happened if the school wouldn't have banned their permits a few months ago," Scheffler wrote. "I just don't understand why leftists don't understand that criminals don't care about laws; that is why they're criminals. Maybe this school will reconsider its repression of law-abiding citizens' rights."
After stewing over the issue for two days, Scheffler sent a second email to University President Linda Hanson, reiterating his condemnation of the concealed carry ban and launching into a flood of complaints about campus diversity initiatives, which he considered reverse discrimination.
So what happened at Hamline? A debate over the nature of personal security? A healthy exchange of views on gun control? A forum on diversity initiatives?
Not exactly, no. David Stern, reaching back to the grand tradition of the Soviet Union, decided that dissent had to involve some sort of psychological disturbance and bounced Scheffler out of Hamline. Rather than wait to the end of the semester and then invite Scheffler to continue his education elsewhere, though, Hamline treated him like a psychotic and barred him immediately from campus until he got psychological help:
So Hamline officials took swift action. On April 23, Scheffler received a letter informing him he'd been placed on interim suspension. To be considered for readmittance, he'd have to pay for a psychological evaluation and undergo any treatment deemed necessary, then meet with the dean of students, who would ultimately decide whether Scheffler was fit to return to the university.
The consequences were severe. Scheffler wasn't allowed to participate in a final group project in his course on Human Resources Management, which will have a big impact on his final grade. Even if he's reinstated, the suspension will go on his permanent record, which could hurt the aspiring law student.
"'Oh, he's the crazy guy that they called the cops on.' How am I supposed to explain that to the Bar Association?" Scheffler asks.
He has also suffered embarrassment. Scheffler obeyed the campus ban and didn't go to class, but his classmate, Kenny Bucholz, told him a police officer was stationed outside the classroom. "He had a gun and everything," Bucholz says. Dean Julian Schuster appeared at the beginning of class to explain the presence of the cop, citing discipline problems with a student. Although Schuster never mentioned Scheffler by name, it didn't take a scholar to see whose desk was empty.
What happened to all of that caring and coping? Hamline stood ready to treat its entire student body as victims, offering all sorts of free and presumably anonymous counseling and "coping" assistance. When one of them challenged that status, they use the same mechanism to humiliate and punish him. Either Stern has never read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, or he has only done so as a do-it-yourself guide to political correctness and punishment for its violators.
And let's also point out that they only hired an armed guard after Scheffler pointed out that they had left students with no defense whatsoever against attackers -- and only to ensure that the man who pointed it out could not return to campus.
Hamline is a private university and can set its own standards for admission and retention. However, it should be made clear to its students and its potential students that Hamline has no room for intellectual dissent from its attendees. Students have to accept the victimology dogma of the administration in silence, and in return Hamline will help them cope with their powerlessness. If by chance one of the students challenges the university directly on its philosophy, they will treat him or her like a psychotic and hire the guards they should have hired when they decided to keep their students disarmed.
Mitch and I will absolutely be discussing this on tomorrow's edition of the Northern Alliance Radio Network.
UPDATE: The lovely and talented Dr. Helen takes note of this, and adds:
I have an idea of how to get potential psychotic school shooters off campus: Just goad them into saying something conservative. Next thing you know, they'll be whisked off the campus in handcuffs and psychological treatment will be a must--at their expense! Problem solved.
All too true, especially since Hamline apparently sees conservatism as a mental disorder.