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Violent Times on College Campuses: A Time And Season?

African American news from Pasadena - Violence on College CampusesFor everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

What was it that prompted the Preacher in Ecclesiastes to pen the above? What events or action transpired that caused him/her to reflect on the variant seasons throughout life? The recent spate of crime and violence on college campuses in the last few years is neither rare nor frequent; it is these events that have cause me to similarly reflect upon life's seasons.

Aside from the more common occurrences of sexual harassment and physical altercations among emotionally charged students, more serious incidents like the recent shootout at Ohio State University between two maintenance workers, sparked renewed tension and unsettled nerves among students and staff alike when gunshots broke out around 3:00 a.m. on a quiet early morning.

The echoes of gunshots reverberating across campus haunts of the Kent State massacre where the National Guard fired on war protesting student on May 4, 1970 and the Virginia Tech shooting where many died and an entire campus and surrounding community was traumatized at the hand of one troubled student.

The effects of this event stunned many on campuses across the nation; I, myself, became more vigilant on my own campus in Memphis (at the time) where months before the local police department evacuated the classroom and office buildings due to a student who was spotted with a gun; I became leery and remain so today about keeping my classroom door open; what is life's season?

The eerie shadow of crime on University campuses was once again cast as the public was alerted to the news of the tragic murder of a Yale University grad student (at the hands of a staff worker) on the eve of her wedding. Just in the past few weeks, on March 10th, the Los Angeles Times reported that two students were robbed at gunpoint while studying in their dorm room. The blatant obtrusions of crime and violence at institutions of higher learning catches all of us off guard and to an extent threaten the learning process and college socialization. Where are there safe spaces within American society today? What is life's season within higher education?

[Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins is Director of J.D.Institute and is a Professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of "Ecclesiastes" in the African Bible: Reading Israel's Scriptures through Africa and the African Diaspora (Fortress Press), 2009, and "Duty or Responsibility? The African American Evangelical's Identity" in the Journal of African American Christian Thought 1 (2009). Hopkins is available for preaching, lecturing, speaking or conducting workshops or seminars. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .]


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