via The Human Condition Blog – Newsweek.com, Historiann, Kittywampus, and others. University of Alabama, Huntsville biology professor Amy Bishop shot and killed several colleagues during a faculty meeting on Friday. Campus shootings are always shocking, but this was is especially so since, as Historiann observes, men are the overwhelming majority of mass murderers and the overwhelming majority of people who kill with guns.
I was planning to wait until the weekend is over to comment on this and focus on my knitting, but even even the Ivory Tower Fiber Freaks group on Ravelry is abuzz about this. The facts are still developing so I hesitate to comment about Amy Bishop’s mental state. However, more than one article I’ve seen has raised the issue of Bishop’s mental state — e.g. did she have a psychotic break? Was she taking SSRIs, which can cause mania or psychosis? Bishop shot her brother, supposedly by accident, in 1986. Was that also the result of a psychotic or manic episode?
So, I’m just going to toss some initial thoughts out there, even if they turn out not to apply to this case. Previous instances of campus shootings have prompted more attention to student mental health issues. Will this case lead to more focus on faculty mental health? Our campus has an Employee Assistance Program, but how many people actually use it? How many more are afraid to get counseling because they don’t want to be labeled a “nut” — especially before they have tenure?
I’ll wait and see how this develops before I say more on this. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to stay calm and carry yarn.
Added later: this article from SF Gate hints that bullying might have been a factor, although the author does it in a stupid assed intellectually lazy way (i.e. Southerners are stupid, hate intellectual Yankees, especially those who are from Harvard).
Update 2/15/10: From the website Chronicle of Higher Education. The ableist language in the comments is quite disturbing.
Here’s a first hand account from another UAH faculty member. I hope they’re including faculty in the crisis counseling.
There is never a reason to resort to violence to resolve a problem. But I wonder “how” she was denied tenure that had her already gathering papers and submitting them to a lawyer. I also wonder what sent her over the edge. In the past year I’ve seen some folks handled VERY badly by their supervision and campus leadership. Never a supportive word, always a flip comment, always taking away the validity of the work being done. It piles up, especially if the person has some level of depression, anxiety, or lack of self-confidence. Some might refer to this as bullying in the workplace, but I think often it is just lack of care or concern for another person and their success… at least in the case of the workplace… and probably by not being aware of or caring about the whole person.
Thanks for your comments, Otis.