The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

A thoughtless reaction

Your March 31 issue discusses the University's response to the accidental death of Thomas Gilliam ("Administrators boost security"). In response to this tragedy, the University has begun a Grounds-wide lockdown of all buildings and steam tunnels so that various security enhancements can be made.

Gilliam's death is a tragic loss for the entire community, and my heart goes out to his friends and family. But his passing should not be used as the reason to initiate an absurd overreaction to an unfortunate accident. If a student who illegally jaywalks is accidentally struck by a car, should we erect ten-foot high iron gates around sidewalks to prevent anyone from crossing the street except at the crosswalks? The University would have you believe that this is the only solution to the problem.

The real solution to curb unwanted behavior is to educate and inform, not to punish and restrict. This is the same strategy the University already employs to combat binge drinking and substance abuse. Students are going to circumvent authority one way or another. We should be fostering dialogue and collaborating with the community to develop a reasonable solution to the problem. But the administration seems interested only in constructing a liability-proof shield around itself, in the hopes of staving off lawsuits.

I am saddened by the loss of Thomas Gilliam who, by all accounts, was destined to be a paragon of leadership and character. But I am also disappointed by the way the University has chosen to respond to this tragedy. It is a clumsy, reactionary effort that respects neither the autonomy nor the intelligence of its members.

John Feminella\n SEAS '05