What would you do?

I am a student here at PSU just like you and I would like to know what you would have done?

Yesterday Feb. 13, I took MAX into PSU and returned from PSU, just like I do 2x per week. But this trip, I encountered a very uncomfortable situation on MAX that could have ended up with violence, or at the least, a very tense moment which would have left me and some other passengers in varying states of trauma.

On my trip into PSU, around 3:45, Max stopped at the 82nd street depot and picked up some people. Three of these were youths- probably 16-19 years of age, male. But these three were very loud…I mean they were shouting well above the normal din of a busy MAX commute. One chose to run up and down the car, jump up and grasp the stainless poles and swing around. His friends would cheer him on. At first I just ignored this rowdy behavior. But…it did not stop. When, like me, most people were ignoring this rude behavior the youth escalated his behavior. This signaled a change to me. This young man, encouraged on by his two peers, began to try and provoke a response from the rest of us. He began to make “charges” at some people, as if he was going to purposely make contact with people. I looked around and some of the passengers were now worried…you could see it in their faces. I was sitting next to a window and had a young lady sitting beside me. She was becoming upset. I decided to do something. I made an effort and caught the eye of one of the young people who was cheering on his physical friend. He was maybe five feet away. Our eyes met. I was not smiling. At first he looked seriously at me and then he did something I did not expect. He laughed. He laughed right at me. I felt the blood rush to my face. I felt my fingers curl into tight fists. I began to feel my legs move…but then I stopped. Was this action I was about to take going to solve anything? Instead of helping, protecting the others around me, could I actually be escalating this (now) dangerous situation? Luckily I did not have to contemplate those questions very long for we were pulling into the Lloyd Center depot and the youths made their departure.

When those three young men left the MAX car you could almost feel the sense of relief that blew through our section of MAX. Whew! But I was shaking. Really physically shaking. Not from fear but from anger and adrenaline. The young lady who sat beside me softly put her hand upon mine and just smiled up at me. And I felt better.

Guns on Campus

We’ve all seen on TV the horrific scenes from Newton Connecticut, the shopping mall in nearby Clackamas, a Regal movie theatre in Colorado…and sadly so many more incidents of guns taking lives in senseless murders. I am a student just like you. I know when I walk the dark walkways of PSU I now think of this deadly scenario. I worry that this might occur here too. I cringe at the thought and hurry along my way.

I know that I could probably obtain a concealed weapons permit from the county where I reside that is good for all of the state. I know then I might “legally” carry this gun, this piece of hardware that is created with one real purpose, to kill. But then I also ask myself, “Is this what I really want to do or do I feel threatened and worried, that my own life may be in danger and that is what is prompting me to think about actually carrying a gun?” And when I get past this question I also ask myself, “Is this who I am? Do I let fear run my life? Do I really want to kill someone?”

"Is this you?"

“Is this you?”

For me, I am not that kind of person. I have always believed in “live and let live”. I don’t want to be the kind of person that would kill another human being because I believe my own life is in danger. I believe we are an intelligent and resourceful people. I believe there are other alternatives for me, such as fleeing, calling 911 for help, not placing myself in vulnerable situations if I can, and believing that the school I attend, PSU, has taken all the precautions it can to protect me and my fellow students in our goal of receiving an education and becoming a valuable and contributing members of society.

I realize my choice is not for everyone. But having served in the military, having been in real life and death situations, I know sometime in your life you must find out who you really are? Do we give in to the TV and media hysteria? Do we allow ourselves to be manipulated into doing something we do not believe in? Do we really have to kill to live? Is that what our society, our culture, is really about?

I do not think it is.

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“Or…is this you?”
You really are the one to decide.

Note: The following is the current PSU policy on carrying a gun at our school and was adopted by the Oregon Board of Higher Education on March 2, 2012.

“…forbids students, employees, individuals with a business interest with the campus (such as vendors and contractors), event attendees, those who rent or lease University property, and campus visitors from carrying a firearm on University owned or controlled property…The prohibition is effective whether or not an individual holds a concealed handgun license.”