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This past week's Bulls & Bears: Gary B. Smith, Exemplar Capital managing partner; Pat Dorsey, Morningstar.com director of stock research; Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research editor; Scott Bleier, HybridInvestors.com president; Bob Froehlich, DWS Scudder chairman of investor strategy; Tracy Byrnes, New York Post business writer; and Patricia Powell, Powell Financial Group president.
Are We Spending Enough to Protect Our Children?
The massacre at Virginia Tech. We took a unique look at the issues and concerns on a special edition of The Cost of Freedom.
First, a simple question. Do we spend enough money to protect our most precious and valuable resource: our children?
Gary B.: I think the natural reaction after a tragedy like this is to say we clearly don't spend enough. My heart goes out to all the kids and parents. This really affected me personally because I know a lot of people that go to VA Tech and are planning to do so. I think we spend enough on security. The reason is because your role and my role as a parent goes from protecting your kids to having them protect and think for themselves and become their own individual. I guess you can never protect your kids enough, but I think by the time they are in college, you've done all you can.
Bob: I think there's always going to be an issue of spending enough when a tragedy like this occurs. We're always going to second-guess whether we could have done more by spending more. The focus should be on spending more wisely because you can't just spend money for more safety. I think we have to do a much better job in terms of preparation and using technology.
Tracy: The problem is our county is reactive not proactive. It took planes to knock down two buildings before we established the Department of Homeland Security. And unfortunately, these events are not just limited to college campuses. At my kids' pre-school there was a bomb threat. Now thankfully it was just a scare, but it took that threat for the school to put in a security system. We need to be thinking ahead a little bit more.
Patricia: I think it's not possible to protect our children one hundred percent. There's that old saying, "He who protects everything, protects nothing." Clearly a little more money is going to need to be spent, but we're going to have to look at this and ask, "How do you secure a building? What does a lock down mean? What are our methods for informing people?" The answers don't have to be massively expensive, but we need to spend some money and everybody needs to have a plan.
Tobin: From a pure technology standpoint, Radio Frequency ID chips are very effective and cost a nickel. Kids already have a wristband and a cell phone. Between these two things, we could outfit every child with some type of RFID device. This could be used to allow access to a building that has an RFID reader. And it wouldn't be that expensive. An entire campus could be outfitted with these devices with the money made from one football game!
Pat: A more effective solution is not to think about the money spent on security, but to take a step back and think about the individuals who have committed these crimes. We need to find a way to be more sensitive about listening and identifying people that could potentially commit these crimes. It's more of a service issue than a money issue.
Scott: We all have a right to live. We each have certain rights, but we may have to give up certain rights to keep people safe. You can have a gun. It's protected by the Constitution. But you can't have a gun with a 30-clip unless you're in law enforcement. Rights have to be balanced.
Market's Message to America
It didn't take them long… Within hours of the Virginia Tech massacre, the "blame America" gang was in rare form with much of the chorus coming from overseas.
But Wall Street sent a very different message. As we were coming to grips with this tragedy, the Dow soared—hitting a new all-time high and within striking distance of 13,000! What message does that send?
Tobin: The message is obvious one and not so obvious. The obvious is that earning have been great. We have freedoms in this country that we cherish. Sometimes those freedoms allow a lunatic to cause grief to a lot of people. But it's also those freedoms that allow us to have this magnificent economy, those freedoms to have the ability to go out and start a business, those freedoms that allow you to move from South Korea to Virginia and start a business. That's America! We're not going to let something like this stop America, because we know what a great country we have. It's never going to be perfect, but I think that's one of the messages that Wall Street sent this week.
Gary B: America adapts. That's the message the market is sending. We are not the same country we were one hundred years ago, fifty years ago, or certainly before 9/11. We're completely different. But we're the same in that we take situations like this, we mourn, we try to address them, and then we try to move on and do the best we can. It's a message of hope.
Patricia: We have a juggernaut of an economy! The market is saying that Americans and the American economy are OK. It's recognizing that despite this tragedy, people are still getting up in the morning, going to work, and producing products and services. America is just plowing through!
Bob: We have the most resilient stock market in the world! We had a billion dollar hedge fund collapse, a housing market slow down, a sub-prime mortgage meltdown, and now this crisis at Virginia Tech. And the message that stocks are sending is the resiliency of the people in this country and the resiliency of the market.
Tracy: We are survivors. That's what the market is saying. The market is also saying the American spirit cannot be killed. Even though there are evil people who are going to do evil, we will fight them off, no matter what!
Scott: It's ironic that everybody outside of America bashes this country—but they all want to come here to work and succeed. There are other countries that are growing faster and other stock markets that are doing better, but everyone wants to come to America!
Pat: The market is amoral. It does not care about tragedies unless it impacts our economy. 9/11 had the potential to hurt our economy. The event at VA Tech, as problematic and as much as a tragedy it was for the families and the students involved, had no effect on the economy whatsoever. Corporate earnings were good last week, and that's why the market was up.
Using Technology to Keep our Kids Safe
Anthony Zagami, CEO and founder of Security Identification Systems joined us to explain new technology he's developed to keep people safe and maybe help prevent future tragedies at our schools. His system is a system that scans ID and can permit or deny access to building. How does this work?
Anthony Zagami: The technology works in concert with various other systems. You cannot replace a security staff. You need to have trained staff and a procedure in place. With this system, a student swipes a student ID card in a reader. This works with the locking systems in the dorms and other building on campus. It also can work with security cameras on campus, providing surveillance. The camera systems can help signal the area where people are located. Then this could signal a locking system and help contain the situation.
Parents React to Their Kid's College Decision
We all mourn. And for many, this massacre will now play a role in one of the biggest decisions we make with our children: choosing a college.
Two of our regulars, Gary B. Smith and Pat Powell, both have daughters who are in the process of doing just that.
Gary B: Virginia Tech is a very popular school in the DC area. About forty kids from my daughter's high school are going there. We also know many VA Tech students. We went to look at the school when we were looking at colleges. If my daughter chose to go to the school, I would definitely send her. Virginia Tech was a great school before this tragedy, and it will be a great school tomorrow. Out of all the colleges we visited, no school had more spirit or unity than Virginia Tech.
Patricia: I went with my daughter to tour a school after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. It was much more somber. The weight of the shooting at Virginia Tech was weighing on everyone. Administrators got up and spoke about security plans. Students were a lot more somber in their approach to everything. When we went through the dorms, my husband and I paid much more attention to security. I think every kid must now go to college with a personal safety plan.
On Saturday, April 21st, Neil Cavuto was joined by Charles Payne, wstreet.com; Laura Schwartz, Democratic Strategist; Ben Ferguson, "The Ben Ferguson Show"; Stuart Varney, FOX Business correspondent; Jerry Bowyer, The National Review Online; and Jack Welch, former GE Chairman and CEO and author of "Winning: The Answers."
Virginia Tech Massacre: Why the Hatred Toward "the Rich"?
Neil Cavuto: A killer's rant against "rich" people ends in mass murder. Cho Seung-Hui was a young man from the middle class. He "should" have had a bright future. Much of Cho's rambling manifesto railed against the rich. In the sick manifesto, Cho said, "Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn't enough... You had everything." Jack Welch, what do you make of all of this?
Jack Welch: Well, I don't think this is how people in general view the world. I think this is a troubled kid, who was isolated on a campus. In general, I think there is a mixed feeling about the rich. People respect the Warren Buffetts and Bill Gateses of the world, and they revile against people getting big severance packages when they're getting laid off. Take a look at Alex Rodriguez. When he plays well, the fans cheer. Last year, he couldn't hit in the clutch and they booed him to death. This year, even though he's making a lot of money, he's the darling of New York. I think that sort of describes it. If you earn it, the envy is less. If you get it by ill means or unfairly, then I think there's envy and disgust.
Neil Cavuto: Not to be a psychiatrist here… but I think Cho took the extra leap to associate wealth with the "in" crowd. And he was coming from what he thought was the out crowd.
Laura Schwartz: You know what? You can see that on TV every day. You see reality TV that is anything but. You have haves and have-nots. You always think the grass is greener on the other side. How many of those kids driving those expensive cars at school are in debt because of it. You don't know what it's like on the other side. But Cho couldn't filter that out. He couldn't delineate. And it's just sad. But hopefully others will learn that maybe reality is not what we think it is.
Neil Cavuto: There are a lot of socio-economists this week saying we all don't express our rage the way Cho did, but there is a disconnect among people who feel they're part of the dream and people who feel they are not.
Charles Payne: What I think is really alarming is the people who have money but don't think they're doing very well. That's really what's scary. To add to Jack's point and to Laura's point, it's not like young people in general look up to rich people like Bill Gates. They look up to people who came from their neighborhood. You know, a rapper can make as much money as possible and everyone would still love him. And even A-Rod. Even though they may boo him, people would still line up for his autograph. There's still a feeling within the corporate structure that only the elite can rise to the top and make a lot of money. And there's a lot of resentment about that. But, a lot of people who are doing very well in this capitalistic society are upset because they're driving a $20,000 car and their neighbor has a $50,000 car.
Stuart Varney: I am European and I'm used to class envy and class jealousy. I know what it's all about. I think America has a very different type of society. It's a meritocracy where a drive, ambition, and talent will take you to the top. But I do feel there is an increasing feeling coming from the establishment media that makes class-consciousness pushed to the forefront. I think we are encouraged to feel somewhat jealous of those who are very successful and very rich. We envy them. And I think that's being pushed by the establishment media. I think it's profoundly un-American.
Neil Cavuto: Jerry, you've written very eloquently about Cho's rich obsession, class obsession. How significant or worrisome a factor could this side of the nightmare be going forward?
Jerry Bowyer: I think it's very significant. I think his principle emotional motivation was this feeling of envy or resentment against people who were more successful or wealthy or more mainstream than he was. I think this is a real poison. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building, we had this robust discussion about some of the right-wing groups that were critical of Clinton. With the Waco disaster, we were talking about gun rights, 2nd Amendment rights. I think this is the flipside of that. We have an enormous obsession with income equality. We have politicians fanning the flame of class resentment and class envy as if this is an innocent pastime. But in fact, we have every bit as much inter-class violence in this country as we did inter-religious or international violence. Mao and Stalin liquidated entire classes. Class-warfare rhetoric is dangerous no matter whose mind it's in. But when it gets into the mind of a guy like Cho, with the type of problems he has, it becomes even more dangerous.
Stuart Varney: Success in America today is only celebrated in the establishment media if that successful person has overcome all kinds of personal challenges, family challenges, and medical challenges. When was the last time you saw a successful person who was just a regular middle-American?
Neil Cavuto: I think it was Jack Welch. Jack, is there something going on here that we're missing? On this anniversary week of Columbine and other rampages, people are looking at the lunatics behind them. There's a common theme of resentment toward those who had more. What do you make of that?
Jack Welch: Neil, these offbeat people are not part of the mainstream. You're always going to have people who are off-kilter. And the real problem is how do we deal with them? How do we help them? How do we get them to the right people? It's not about changing our way of operation because some people are ranting about wealth of others. People cheer most people who have made it.
Neil Cavuto: What I wonder about is we've had these attacks, memorable gun attacks, like 1966 in Texas when the economy was so-so. And then the attacks in the 1990s and 2000s when the economy was up and down and everything in between. So I don't tie the attacks to the economy or how rich people are getting…
Laura Schwartz: You're right! And I certainly look at wealth as a positive motivation. I want to have that, too. "If they can make it, so can I." But other people look at wealth in our society as a failure on their part for not having it. So I find that it's in all economies.
Neil Cavuto: Do you think if Cho were getting picked on by people who didn't have as much of money, he still would have been angry?
Laura Schwartz: I do. I think he was mentally ill. He had that mindset.
VA Tech Massacre: Can We Create Laws to Stop "Evil"?
Neil Cavuto: In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, there have been calls for stricter gun laws, closed campuses, a closer look at video games, and a review of anti-depressant drug use. But is it possible to create laws to prevent evil?
Charles Payne: You can't legislate crazy out of existence. And I think you really have to be careful not to destroy the rights of most people. In the past couple of weeks, we've heard a lot of talk about getting rid the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment. We have to be real careful about that.
Ben Ferguson: I was in high school when the shootings in Littleton, Colorado happened. And I remember because we were sitting in school and were in shock. Nineteen laws were broken in the Littleton shootings. Four, five, or six more laws on the books wouldn't have made a difference. If you're crazy, you're going to break the law. You can't legislate crazy.
Neil Cavuto: Maybe you can make it more difficult for crazy to do what crazy does?
Jack Welch: I agree with of those guys, but I think in the Virginia Tech case, we had so many signs. People are so hung up on privacy and civil liberties. And here we had a campus where teachers raised red flags. The kid had been arrested a couple of times. But Virginia Tech didn't have policies and practices in place to deal with somebody who was as troubled as Cho. Coworkers and students should be encouraged to come forward and not be punished for coming forward when they see people who are offbeat.
Neil Cavuto: Jerry, let me ask you. Are we too protective of things that could kill us?
Jerry Bowyer: I think the basic premise of our legal system is the terms. You do something wrong, you're going to be punished. But that doesn't work with non-deterrable people like terrorists or guys like Cho, so then you have to get into prevention mode. There's a debate about whether there should have been a lockdown of the college. Well, we can't lock down the continent. We can't lock down North America. So I think we're vulnerable as an open society.
Stuart Varney: I think we have to make it more difficult to be crazy. You can do it in two ways. One, I think we have to re-draw the line on medical privacy, especially when it comes to the purchase of guns by those who are certifiably insane. Number two, I think we have to redraw the line on removing clear threats to our society. Those people need to be removed from public institutions like colleges and workplaces.
Laura Schwartz: You can't jump to solutions so quickly. This is a multi-layered problem. But like Stuart said, we have to strengthen the background checks on mentally ill people. More than 20 states do not file that information with the FBI. We have to make a change. But the will to kill you cannot legislate. That's a societal problem.
Ben Ferguson: The bottom line is laws aren't going to make these people go away. We have to prevent this from happening by allowing teachers to keep these kids safe.
Jack Welch on the Threat of a Workplace Shooting
Neil Cavuto: What happened at Virginia Tech also happens in the workplace far too often… a disgruntled employee opening fire on co-workers. Was this a worry for Jack Welch while at the helm of General Electric? Jack, how did you deal with this sort of issue?
Jack Welch: Well, it isn't something that's foremost on your mind. Just like it probably wasn't at the university's campus. On the other hand, you put in place real workplace violence practices. And people are tested on them annually. There is no question that people have to have a policy in place so that workers and kids know where to go and what to do when they see off behavior.
Neil Cavuto: But is it more than that? Do you have to screen for weapons?
Jack Welch: No, we didn't do that. But we clearly did background checks on who we hired. But even more so Neil, we had practices in place where 300,000 people had to take an online test on workplace violence.
Neil Cavuto: But you're also pretty good at finding oddities… people who aloof or alone or who weren't mixing well with others.
Jack Welch: That's what we did. None of us are perfect. We can't legislate out or rule out something going wrong. But candid appraisal, careful treatment of those who are released… Neil, you can't fire somebody and let them go and forget them. You have to let them go and hopefully help them find their next job. You have to counsel them. You can't treat them like lepers. But there is no foolproof answer. If you have somebody off base, anybody can get hit with this tragedy.
Tech and Tragedy: Coping on YouTube, MySpace & Facebook
Neil Cavuto: Grief, the world has been sharing it with Virginia Tech students on the Web. Here to talk about the unique role technology is playing in this national tragedy are Virginia Tech alumni Kaitlyn Maciborski, Jason Klatsky, and Lisa Buco.
Lisa, you are in the tech business with Wired Magazine. How is technology helping right now?
Lisa Buco: Yes, I'm looking at Web sites every day. I'm on IM. I'm on e-mail. It's a big part of my job.
Neil Cavuto: And everyone communicates with it? Present students? Alumni?
Lisa Buco: Absolutely. That's how I found out about this… through our alumni Web site, through emails from Virginia Tech friends all across the country.
Neil Cavuto: And Kaitlyn, I'm hearing you guys found out about this even before the general media.
Kaitlyn Maciborski: I got a few phone calls. I actually got a phone call from my mother letting me know. And I was getting text messages that said to turn on the news, get to the Internet. Just found out instantly.
Neil Cavuto: You're all Virginia Tech alumni. Jason, you said you're not necessarily a technology giant, but you wanted to try to use technology to get people around this.
Jason Klatsky: Well, the alumni associations were all trying to do something and everyone was saying prayers and trying to put together vigils. And I wanted to reach more people. I've never set up a website, a blogging website before. So I just went online. It took me like 10 minutes. I called customer service and got it all set up. And people have been going to it and leaving messages. It's called welovevt.com. We just really wanted to get across the message that alumni and students and parents and teachers who have had associations with Virginia Tech…
Neil Cavuto: Are any of you afraid that enrollment's going to go down and people will be scared to apply?
(Everyone nods his/her head)
Jason Klatsky: We were just talking about that. We're concerned about that. So hopefully a site like this and all the blogging will allow people to go online and see. Maybe someone just got accepted and they're scared. But go online and read these comments from people who went to Virginia Tech about how much they love the school.
Neil Cavuto: But, their parents might not.
Lisa Buco: Through technology, it shows what the community is like. It's showing how we all converse with each other and how important the school is to us.
Neil Cavuto: And you think it still is, Kaitlyn?
Kaitlyn Maciborski: Oh yeah. I would go back in a heartbeat. Every fall, I drive 8 hours to go see football games, multiple times. It's a chance to meet up with your friends. I would go back in a heartbeat.
Neil Cavuto: My thanks to all of you. This has been a very special edition of Cavuto on Business.
Political Correctness: Putting America at Risk?
Elizabeth MacDonald, senior editor: First off, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I do think Cho Seung-Hui would have killed no matter where he was, whether he was on or off a college campus. I think the problem is our laws. They let this happen. They are too P.C. Once someone who is mentally ill starts making violent statements about other people or themselves, they should be removed from any setting. A college campus, a workplace, whatever.
Quentin Hardy, Silicon Valley bureau chief: Everyone looks for a "why" to explain madness. And frankly, they just fill in their biases. It's madness and we just can't find an explanation for it, including trying to blame it on political correctness.
Neil Weinberg, senior editor: I disagree. Thirty years ago I was in high school and there was a guy who was really strange. He was writing poems about his own funeral. I told the teachers I thought this guy was suicidal. They said no, that people like this don't talk about it if they're really suicidal. He killed himself the following year. In this case at Virginia Tech, this student was putting out all kinds of warning signs. He was pleading for help and he didn't get it. Unfortunately in academia, there is a sense that unless you really step over the line you have to give people a great deal of latitude. I think that latitude should stop when you start causing danger to yourself and others.
Lea Goldman, associate editor: I don't think this has anything to do with being P.C. I think universities are so deathly afraid of the liability that comes with expelling students. They're scared of lawsuits. You have to ask yourself, what on earth does it take to get expelled from Virginia Tech or other universities?
Mike Ozanian, senior editor: Our society is not too P.C. We hear rappers and others use the words "bitches" and "hos" to make money from women. The problem we have is that we're a society run by human beings. Human beings make mistakes. This individual was determined to kill a lot of people and I don't see anything that would have stopped him.
Michele Steele, Forbes.com reporter: I don't think it's about the university trying to protect the rights of this deranged and psychotic person. It's about a large institution that let someone fall through the cracks. Some teachers alerted police and they didn't do much about it. I think it's disturbing that a person with a track record of unbalanced mental health and was able to buy a gun.
Separating a 'Brand-Name' From a Tragic Event
Quentin Hardy: Of course Virginia Tech can separate its name from this tragic event. Character doesn't come from encountering evil, that's just our human plight. Character comes from how you respond to evil. And this place has been great in its response to evil.
Lea Goldman: Sad as it is, I think it's going to be years before Virginia Tech can separate itself from this tragedy. This is on par with Oklahoma City and Columbine. You just can't move away from that so quickly. And while college going kids may have short memories, their tuition-paying parents don't. And this is a university, I think, that demonstrated a cavalier disregard for campus safety.
Victoria Barret, associate editor: I think they can get over it. Perhaps what's getting lost in this is all the images of students wearing Virginia Tech sweatshirts and T-shirts and baseball hats. They still have this student pride amidst all this tragedy. You have to find strength in your sorrow and I think that is what this community is doing. I think that's what will save this school's reputation going forward.
Elizabeth MacDonald: The outpouring of compassion is overwhelming. But unfortunately, this massacre will be forever linked with Virginia Tech. I think what's going to cause this to linger is the potential lawsuits that are going to be coming after the fact.
Mike Ozanian: I think there is a difference between a corporate brand and a university brand. I think people go to school for a variety of reasons, other than the profits they are going to get when they graduate. The factors to choose a school are where it's located, friends, sports, etc. I believe from what I've seen, so far, that this university will rally around this tragedy and make a big comeback.
Bill Baldwin, editor: A corporation can definitely live down a tragedy if it wasn't responsible. Johnson & Johnson came back stronger after the deaths from tainted Tylenol. But contrast that with ValuJet which after a tragic crash in Florida had to rename itself to survive at all. Or another good example is the Exxon Valdez. They towed it back to port after it leaked all that oil. They put 3,000 tons of steel into the hull and it still couldn't survive. They re-branded it as another ship and it was still haunted.
Will Students Fight Tighter Security on Campus?
Lea Goldman: I just don't see college kids taking up tighter security as an invasion of privacy, even if it includes cameras on campus. We walk around with camera phones like they are an extension of our hands. We monitor every movement by the minute on My Space and Friendster. I don't think kids will care about a few more cameras.
Lacy Rose, Forbes.com senior reporter: I think cameras are crazy. I think you come to expect them in banks and airports. But a campus is a student's home. I think that is where the difference is.
Victoria Barret: I don't think there is anything wrong with cameras. I am filmed on a camera 7 times on my 12 mile commute to work. On the freeway, on the streets, as I enter my building and on the elevator. Privacy is largely an illusion in today's network age. I think college kids understand that.
Michele Steele: College kids are not going to fight against tighter security. It's out of sight, out of mind. I was on a college campus last year and there were plenty of cameras. No one complained about it at all. I think what would go even further than cameras would be yearly mental check-ups.
Which Saves More Lives: E-mail Warnings or Sirens?
Michele Steele: Old technology like sirens and R.A.s going door-to-door is the way to go. Who is going to check their e-mail at 7 a.m. in the morning?
Bill Baldwin: Forbes has a fire alarm system that has gone off with false alarms 80 times. When we finally do need it, people are going to tune it out. I think what we need here is some very new tech devices. Like a metal detector that works within 20 paces and a willingness of campus security guards to pat down people who fail it.
Elizabeth Macdonald: I like old technology. With new tech the problem is you could have technological issues. The technology is only as good as the people that operate it. The e-mails and things like that might not work in a tragedy. I think you need people knocking on doors and getting people out. Use a bull horn, a fog horn, whatever!
Neil Weinberg: Definitely use new tech. The problem with a bull horn is people don't know what to do. Do they stay in the classroom or stay in the building? What you need here, and what you had, was the ability to send a text message. People could send that around very quickly. But, unlike Virginia Tech, the warning needs to contain specific information what the threat is and what students should do to protect themselves against it. That's something old tech bull horns or sirens can't do.
Mike Ozanian: The problem is that these types of tragedies, fortunately, so rarely happen that people aren't prepared for it, whether they have new or old technology. There is going to be lots of confusion because there is no real way to prepare for it.
Our Cashin' In crew this week: Jonathan Hoenig, CapitalistPig Asset Management; Jonas Max Ferris, MaxFunds.com; Dagen McDowell, FOX Business News; Gary Kaltbaum, Kaltbaum & Associates; Adam Lashinsky, Fortune Magazine; Don Alexander, teacher; and Bo Dietl, Beau Dietl & Associates
VA Tech Tragedy Lesson: Listen to the Teachers!
America is still dealing with the devastating events of Monday April 16, when a deranged student killed 32 classmates and professors at Virginia Tech. Some professors saw the warning signs and wanted him off campus. Are teachers the first and last line of defense when it comes to protecting our children at school?
Don Alexander: Teachers are the first line of defense when it comes to your children. No one knows the students better than the teachers. The best teachers out there will be able to tell you the pros and cons of your kids right off the bat.
Bottom line is "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." All parents would want to know what is going on with their child. I am the father of a 6 month old and when he is in college, I want to be informed.
I am a second grade teacher in the Chino Valley Unified School District in Southern California. One of the things I do right off the bat is try to get to know my parents and kids. It's important to build that trust, as you would do in any family. Parents are very cooperative, especially when you reach out to them. Teaching in this day and age is a very difficult thing.
I encourage everyone out there to know that those that died last week did not die in vain. As a teacher, every day I am pushing my kids and constantly telling them they can do whatever they put their minds to.
Dagen: Teachers are the greatest defense against this happening again. At Virginia Tech there were eight teachers that tried to intervene and address Cho Seung-Hui's problem over a period of a year and a half. All you can hope is that in the coming months and years that school administrators, officials, campus police, and law enforcement listen to teachers and take their warnings seriously. These are the people who see students day in and day out. In college there isn't much structure and teachers are the way you get some structure.
Gary K: Teachers are the first line of defense, in addition to other students. I know there is a fine line in what you should or should not report. This guy was the poster child for potential problems. Any warnings also have to get back to parents too. There has to be a much stronger conversation between schools and parents if there are issues coming up.
Adam: The really troubling thing when we talk about college students is that they are in a transition phase. They are neither children in grade school, nor full-fledged adults taking care of themselves. That's what makes this conversation difficult. There's only so much you can do from stopping a young adult from going about their day-to-day business.
Jonathan: I don't think it is the teachers' responsibility. In my opinion, teachers are there to teach. They are not there as security guards. In a nation of 300 million people, there's always going to be a couple of psychos that are incapable of having relationships that are going to perpetuate this type of unspeakable evil.
Dagen: Teachers don't see it that way. Clearly, they care about the safety of all their students and mental health of those that are troubled. We saw that in the case of Virginia Tech. We see it in kindergarten, middle school, etc. These teachers recognize it and they do care what happens.
Jonas: Students like Cho have an adversarial relationship with adults, parents, and teachers. They are more in line to get defense from other students. I don't think they connect with adults. More so, I think they hate them.
Gary K: The teachers I had in school were part of my life too. It's important for them to take interest in you personally to a certain extent. There is a relationship there. Part of going to school is feeling safe. I want teachers to care and if they see something, I want them to speak up.
Will More Security Mean Higher Tuition Costs?
The Virginia Tech tragedy bringing college security front and center: will that cost be passed on to Americans in the form of higher tuition costs?
Gary K: No doubt that costs will go up. I have two sons in school and will do whatever it takes and whatever it costs to keep them safe. If there's a need for an extra video camera or an extra security guard to prevent a disaster like we saw last week, so be it. Let the costs go up. The cost of not protecting our children is too great.
Dagen: Before schools start throwing money at a problem, they have to make sure they have policies and procedures in place to deal with students who are clearly mentally ill. In the instance of Virginia Tech, keep better records of the complaints the teachers have lodged of troubled students. Or if you have an emergency back up plan, make sure you do dry runs of it. These are things that don't cost any money.
Jonathan: There should be better security. Schools should use security as a selling point. Those schools should be privately funded, privately owned, and privately operated. We all know tuition is going up, but it's not the cost of security that has made tuition so expensive. It's the simple fact that government is such a big part of higher education in this country from research to subsidies and loans. I would expect security to be better at a private institution than at a public one.
Adam: It's a great thing that our state and federal governments support higher education the way that they do. Costs for security have gone up in all sorts of places all over the country: in the workplace, in secondary and primary schools, and even in churches and synagogues. It's a sad part of our lives that didn't exist when we were young, but it will exist going forward. Security will push up costs and sadly it won't be enough. There's almost nothing that institutions can do to stop one of their own who might be disturbed from doing something like this if they are truly committed and capable of doing it.
Jonas: Most college campuses are pretty open. With millions of college students in our country, it's very unlikely for something like this to happen. The cost of a police state across all these campuses, causing some kids to not be able to afford school is unreasonable and unrealistic. It's such a small fraction of people that might be in danger from a random and probably unpreventable attack. To the students who already find school so expensive, it's not fair to them to make all these schools that much safer.
How to Survive a Workplace Shooting
What if the kind of evil that fell on Virginia Tech came to your workplace? What's the best thing to do to survive?
Bo Dietl: I retired from the police department 23 years ago. It's important to put disaster and emergency programs in place. If you don't have something in place, everything is chaotic. You can't come to a conclusion too fast if no one is controlling it. First thing to do is notifying the people. There are low yield beepers out there that print out warnings like "Stay on your floor," "Lock yourself in your office," "We have a situation going on. We will notify you." Communication is the biggest thing they didn't have at Virginia Tech.
Terry: What would I do if I'm in my office and I hear gunfire?
Bo: The most important thing to do is find out where it is. You would hope that your corporation or school would have emergency plans in place. If you hear bullets, secure yourself in your office, lock the door and put something against it until you know what is going on. If you have a cubicle, get out of the way of the bullets. Put your body in an area where you are hiding from the shooter. Stay quiet. You don't want to confront them. Use your instincts.