Faculty discuss Iowa shootings

By Jami Peterson

While an onset of emotions struck the University of Iowa campus because a graduate student shot and killed himself and four faculty and students, some NIU faculty expressed their opinions about the tragic incident.

The gunman, identified as Gang Lu, a graduate student in physics from China, was not nominated for the Sted Winning academic award for doctoral dissertations. Apparently seeking revenge, he shot and killed three members of the physics and astronomy departments and critically wounded an administrator and staff member in the administration building.

According to the Associated Press, this incident has triggered rumors of an impending mass murder, causing six colleges in the Northeast to call meetings to comfort students.

Kathy Hotelling, director of the Counseling and Student Development Center, said she believes one reason for the incident might have been because the award, not offered at NIU, would have allowed Lu to remain in the United States after graduation. Without the award, he would have been required to return to his homeland, she said.

“This is obviously a person extremely distressed,” she said.

otelling said she believes this incident probably will not begin a repetition of mass murders at other colleges. “The precision with which the murders were carried out is unprecedented,” she said.

Mark Thackaberry, director of the NIU International Students and Faculty, said he believes the fact that Lu was an international student should have no bearing on the incident

But although international students are required to meet the same entrance qualifications as Americans, there is a lot of pressure put on them to do well, because of the large amount of money required to travel to the U.S. and NIU’s “top quality” academic requirements, he said.

“People don’t go halfway around the world if they don’t know what they want to do,” Thackaberry said.

If international students do badly, they are not sent back to their country. “As long as they are doing what they said they were doing, they will not be sent back,” he said.

Psychology Professor Solomon Feldman said he believes Lu was probably a perfectionist who put a lot of demands on himself. When students are suffering from stress, they should try to build on the strengths they have, not dwell on the discrepancies they suffer, he added.

“Stress is produced by a discrepancy between the perceived demands of an individual and his or her perceptions of their ability to meet these demands,” Feldman said. When this discrepancy gets too big, problems occur, he said.

NIU Philosophy Professor Sherman Stanage said although he is “deeply saddened” by the incident, he is not surprised it happened.

“It’s surprising it doesn’t happen with greater frequency in light of the increasing number of mass murders we’ve come to live with in the U.S., and the fact that a large, modern university campus is more of a real world than we thought of it as being in the past,” Stanage said.