On April 16, 2007, on the campus of Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, a sullen, troubled, twisted young man killed 32 people, injured 25 more, and then took his own life in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Could such a thing happen here? Are San Diego college campuses safe?
I asked 20 undergrads from five local colleges and universities whether the shooting had affected them or their campuses in any profound way. Did they identify with the shooter or the victims? Did they blame gun policies for what happened? And finally, what did they think they would have done if they had been in one of those classrooms at Virginia Tech?
- David Stone, 20,
- UCSD, Senior, Applied Math Major
"I feel safe on this campus. We do have campus police. Admittedly, I don't see them that often, but I guess my sense of security comes more from the fact that I've taken martial arts for eight or nine years now. So I guess it's just a sense of personal security instead of campus security.
"The thing about that shooting -- that guy had to reload. He had to pull out the clip, pull another clip out of his backpack, and put it in. And during that time, someone could have taken him out. That's easy enough. Especially if he was distracted with loading a gun.
"If I'd have been at Virginia Tech, then I would have been listening for the click, when the gun was out. And if I heard him reloading, then I definitely would have gone after him. And I'm sure about that, because in martial arts, your training becomes your instinct. I wouldn't even think about it. I'd just do it. So it's not necessarily that I would have been so freaked out because my classmate sitting next to me was dead; it would have been that basic survival instinct kicking in and going, 'I need to stop this.'
"Shootings are so rare. And I think of them happening more in high school than in college. In high school, your life is the center of the world, and any problem is the biggest thing you've ever encountered, so you tend to be a little more exaggerated in your reaction. But in college, if your life gets sucky, most people just off themselves. Like, in fall quarter, we had a guy jump off the Gilman Parking Structure. So, you know, I think it's more likely that someone who's having problems will just commit suicide.
"That said, something like the shootings at Virginia Tech could happen anywhere. It could happen here, sure.
"The problem wasn't the gun laws. The only thing that gun laws do is hamper people who aren't determined enough.
"We definitely have a right to bear arms, but I'm not thinking that's the safest thing, for everyone to carry a gun. What would be safe is if everyone had a gun and everyone was trained how to use it. But you can't enforce that. It's unrealistic.
"And I wouldn't want my teachers to carry guns, because what if I'm a few minutes late for history class? Then my teacher might just off me right there."
Cathy Kim, 22, UCSD, Senior, Sociology Major, San Ramon, California
"People on this campus are just in our own little bubble. So people didn't seem to necessarily register anything about the shooting. The mood here didn't change at all.
"But after the shootings, there were the threats in East County and stuff that were a lot scarier, I think, because they were a lot closer to home.
"The vibe here at UCSD is really antisocial. And there are people here who are overstressed. Every year there are people here who commit suicide. And we don't hear about that very much. So I guess a shooting like that could happen here pretty easily.
"I do feel safe here, though, even when I'm walking alone at night. It's just a very quiet campus, in general. We have resident security officers and community service officers who can walk you to your destination at night, and the security here seems pretty good.
"As far as Virginia Tech, I think we'd all like to tell ourselves that we'd be the hero, but in reality, I think you're just innately programmed for instinctual self-survival. I'd like to say that I would have stopped him, but I know I wouldn't have.
"After 9/11, I didn't look at Muslims any differently, and after this, I don't look at quiet kids or Asians any differently. I don't typecast people. And speaking as a Korean, the thing that I think is unfortunate is that there's just such a lack of Asian influence in the media and in popular culture, and something like this can really hinder the few Asian Americans who want to be part of the media and pop culture. But on the other hand, I haven't gotten any backlash for it, personally, just because I'm Korean and he was Korean."
Su-Young Hong, 22, UCSD, Senior, Literature Major, Orange, California
"I heard about the shooting later that day, and it kind of just blew me away. I expected a much bigger reaction on campus. But it almost seemed ignored, or put on the back shelf. There was a prayer vigil, but it wasn't that big, which is understandable, because this campus isn't very active as a group.
"This doesn't seem like the kind of campus where something like that could happen. I mean, it could happen anywhere, but it doesn't seem especially threatening here. There's a whole illusion of security, you know, living in La Jolla.
"I think if everyone had guns, that would make things really uncomfortable. Because then, if you cross the wrong guy, you'd just get smoked. I mean, people piss off a lot of random people more than they piss off one psycho, you know?
"You've heard the saying, 'Everyone has a plan until they get punched.' People just aren't trained for that kind of thing. You could say you have a great fight-or-flight reaction, but no one trains to have a gun pointed at them. Especially at a college. So you might think you're brave or tough, but I think the first thought in that situation has to be 'Run. Save yourself.'
"More than anything, the biggest reaction I've seen since the shooting is a lot of jokes, especially jokes at my expense, about me being the one who could go crazy. Which is kind of fucked up, but it's also kind of funny at the same time. I mean, I'm the same age, the same nationality, the same major, and I came to this country around the same time as the guy who did the shootings. So I can see the humor in those similarities. But it could happen to anyone. It could be you or anyone who has so much in common with someone who goes crazy. It doesn't mean you're crazy. But it did help me identify with what he must have felt like.
"There've been times in my life when I've felt crazy, when I've felt like there's no logic for the world to run by. But there's no excuse for what he did. He just lost it. He fucked up. He did something terrible. But at the same time, I can understand what it's like to feel totally alone and isolated. Because moving to the United States at a young age is a very alienating experience. You try to tell yourself it's not an issue and that you're the same as everyone else, but really you are different, and you have to deal with it every day. You see it in people's faces every day. Even if people treat you as nice as they can, you see their face, and it's different from yours. And you feel it come across on some level in the smallest things. You always feel that you're an outsider. And there's no way to change that."
Kyle Dunne, 20, Junior, UCSD, Literature Major, La Jolla
"The shooting came up in most of the classes I was in, but other than that, on campus I didn't notice anything between classes at all.
"I can imagine that kind of thing happening here, or anywhere, really. I mean, it did happen at my school once. I went to Granite Hills, and when I was a freshman, there was another student, who was actually in one of my classes, and during lunch period one day, he came by and just basically went up to the office and started shooting into the windows there. And there were a few injuries, but nothing too serious. Luckily, our campus resource officer was right there, and he was able to react on the spot and prevent him from really doing any damage. So I've been in a lockdown situation.
"The kid who did it kind of kept to himself. And he definitely had anger-management issues. Like, in class, he would throw things down and get visibly angry at teachers. But the hindsight thing... You know, it doesn't surprise you, like, with his personality -- it made sense, after the fact. But you could never predict something like that. There are a lot of people I've known who've had similar personalities, and they've never done anything like that and probably won't ever do something like that.
"But since the shooting at my school -- and it's reinforced even more now -- I've definitely changed the way I act towards people. I'm a lot more outgoing now. I try to be really friendly, especially to people who seem to need friends. I mean, they say the guy at Virginia Tech didn't really know anyone in class, and maybe he just felt isolated and alone. So I think maybe if I'm outgoing and I talk to people, then maybe there's less chance of that happening somewhere, or something. Maybe I'm doing some good, hopefully."
Terra Miller, 20, City College, Sophomore, Psychology Major, North Park by way of Houston, Texas
"There wasn't much reaction around here after the shooting. But I just assume most people don't really pay attention to the news a lot and to how significant an event like that really was. But for myself, because I do pay attention to the news, there was that fear after the shooting. I was a little paranoid. Looking around more, checking people out.
"Oh, it could absolutely happen here. No doubt about it. A college campus is such a free place. People are coming and going. There's so many different people. So many different ethnicities and people of different origins interacting. I think anything like that could happen.
"But that's what a college campus is meant to be. It's meant to be free, because it's a place of learning. I think having a lot of security in a place like this would change the whole purpose of college. And, honestly, you're not going to be able to catch people who really want to do something like that.
"Anybody's capable of doing something like that. I wouldn't put it past anybody. Anybody has that ability in them. You don't know what people have been through. You don't know what's making them angry. Some people just think that everyone's against them.
"In the case of Virginia Tech, I think our system failed. Because he had a known history of mental illness, and he was able to purchase a gun. That's where it failed. It wasn't Virginia Tech's fault. It's when the state records and the federal records don't work together when someone's purchasing a gun.
"I'm all for guns. I'm pro-gun. If you're a law-abiding citizen, then you should be allowed to have one. But I do also think that they need to make the rules and regulations more effective. I think the laws should be strict, and the policies should make it difficult to get a gun -- thorough background checks and mental history and whatnot -- but then you should be allowed to have a gun. The rules are actually already there, but so many places don't carry them out.
"You can't ever judge someone in a situation like that unless you were there yourself. But honestly, for how many bullets he fired -- and I think it was almost 200 bullets, with as short a clip as he had in those types of guns -- when you see somebody reloading, then the thought must go through your mind, 'Am I going to sit here in fear, or am I going to take action and stop this?' And I don't understand how no one took action in that situation at Virginia Tech. Honestly, I think I would have gone out fighting. You know, picked up a desk or something and thrown it at him. Something. It's better than just sitting there and wondering if you'll be next. When your adrenaline's pumping, you've got to act on it.
"If somebody in that classroom, some other student, some law-abiding student -- if somebody else had a gun -- and he or she knew what to do with it -- if they knew how to use it -- then the whole thing wouldn't have happened."
Arturo Lopez, 19, City College, Sophomore, Psychology Major, Sherman Heights
"It became more quiet on campus after the shooting. Before it was noisier. It's either because of the shooting or because we're after the add/drop deadline.
"I feel safe. The security's been good ever since I've been here. But like in Virginia, it could happen anytime. I hope not, but it could.
"I haven't seen anybody who I thought could do something like that. But I wouldn't want to become biased against everybody who I thought could be a threat.
"People want to protect themselves. Basically, at Virginia Tech, I think it was everyone for himself or herself. I probably would have been the same way, but I think I would have tried to warn some people and help them escape."
Stephen Swanson, 20, City College, Sophomore, Geology Major, Newport, Kentucky
"We had some discussions in class, but other than that, no. It wasn't like a hot topic among my peers.
"It did affect me. This kind of thing is happening, it seems, more and more often.
"I know we have great instruction here, and if anybody had a problem, I would hope that they know that they could talk to somebody. The problem seems to be that these kids are never really given the attention that they need. They're just left to the wayside. That's bad for anybody. And that could happen to anybody.
"I have faith in the law, in the police. I've never had a problem, because I don't really move outside of my boundaries. If I have a problem with somebody, I know that there are people I could talk to. I've never felt like I need to protect myself.
"I don't see the security much on campus, but I've heard of them being called before. But I've never heard of a big problem on campus here.
"I can only imagine what it would be like to be sitting back in my chair and somebody walks in holding a gun. I can't say I would have jumped up and done something. I would have had a fear of being shot before I ever got to him. It must have been a very tough situation.
"I don't profile. I can't say that I've seen anyone who might do something like that, because I don't have the basis to profile anyone."
Alano Aviles, 20, City College, Sophomore, Computer Information Systems Major, North Park
"For a while, it did seem somber around here after the shooting. Like the mood just changed.
"We received e-mails from the college that outlined new emergency procedures if any situations like the one at Virginia Tech should arise. And they changed a few things on campus. For example, in the cafeteria, there used to be doors that you needed a key to lock, but now they have deadbolts where you can just lock them and unlock them by hand.
"That kind of thing could happen anywhere, although you have this feeling like it couldn't happen to me, it couldn't happen here. But it definitely could.
"I don't usually notice other people very much, so I haven't seen anyone who I thought could do something like that.
"You know, if someone has a gun, you'd think it would be nice to be the hero. But most people would rather hide and try to live instead of risking everything. I'd probably be the same way.
"I don't think it would be better if everyone had guns, because then there would be even more bullets flying around. And I don't know how much it would help to have tighter security. I mean, you can only be so safe. It really comes down to freedom versus safety. You know, how much freedom are you willing to give up to be safe?"
Brendon Quon, 21, USD, Junior, Communications Major, Los Angeles
"I have a safe feeling on campus here, especially in the dormitories. You need an access key to get into our building, and you need one to get into the elevator, and you need one to get into your room. What else can you do? I mean, yeah, you could have doors installed in every classroom that automatically lock and whatnot, but the cost-efficiency isn't great.
"Civilians carrying guns, even for protection, is a really bad idea. Then you'd get people showing off... No, no, no. That's just not smart.
"The shooting at Virginia Tech was kind of a conversation starter. A lot of us talked about it and got other people's opinions. But other than that, I didn't see much on campus that had anything to do with the shooting.
"The morning of, we were watching the whole thing unfold in class. And at first they didn't tell what ethnicity he was. But as soon as they said that he was Asian American, it just felt like a burden on me. I'm not Korean, I'm Chinese. But I just knew it would give people an excuse to make things difficult for Asian Americans.
"If I think about the students in the classrooms that day, and I put myself in their shoes, and if a guy pops into my classroom and starts shooting, there's not much you can do. My first reaction would probably be to duck and cover. But by then, he may already have moved on to another room."
Raymond Murdock, 20,
"I don't think the kids around here in general really pay attention as much as you think they would. The shooting did affect me, though. It made me think. It made me think about this society and about what's going on and about what made this young man do what he did.
"I think in any school, or anywhere, where there's people who feel secluded and left out of things, I think it's unfortunately somewhat natural for certain people to be on lower social tiers, I guess you could say. But then you need a perfect combination of extreme emotional and mental problems and violence and knowing how to use a gun, and all of that ties in. I mean, it's not that common for all that to come together. Because there's probably a lot of kids out there who are depressed or who have problems, but we don't have shootings all the time.
"One of my teammates -- I'm on the basketball team, and one of my teammates is doing a paper on how easy it was for him to get a gun. I think he got a gun the same day. I wouldn't carry a gun myself, although I think it should be within my rights to carry one if I wanted to. But I don't, and I don't know anyone who carries one.
"The security on campus here is extremely tight. There's public safety officers everywhere. For how small this school is, there's really a lot of officers carrying guns here. And it's a pretty secluded campus.
"I don't think what happened at Virginia Tech was really a security issue, or even a gun issue so much, but I think that kid was obviously troubled, and that should have been addressed. He should have been taken out of school, and someone should have talked to him. There were plenty of warning signs -- those plays that he wrote and the way he acted and stuff. He should have been red-flagged.
"But I'm used to being around sketchy people. Back home in Phoenix, especially, there's plenty of weird people around. But I don't come from the same background as a lot of the kids at this school. I'm not trying to make a generalization, but I think a lot of these kids here are pretty aloof. Things like the Virginia Tech shooting don't really affect them. They just seem to think stuff that doesn't affect them directly really isn't that big of a deal."
Teddy Fulham, 19,
"Initially, after the shooting, you had the posters put up, and there was a reflection, like a kind of memorial service around the fountain at one of the dorms, but other than that, it didn't seem like people around here were affected very much by the shooting.
"Honestly, I've become a little apathetic about this stuff. Because you hear about bad stuff happening so much. It's just like constant sensory overload. Like everything going on in Iraq, and shootings, and you just hear about it all the time. And I notice myself feeling like that, and I try to put myself in their shoes, but it's hard, because there's just so much of it going on.
"If that could happen at V.T., then it could happen here. I mean, I feel like there's enough security here, but they probably thought the same thing there, you know? It's the hindsight bias. But I feel safe here.
"I'd like to think if I was put in that situation, then I would have acted. I think I would have tried to stop the guy. I mean, it was just one guy with guns. He had to stop to reload. One hundred and seventy shots? You've got to stop to reload. So if there was a window of opportunity where someone could've done something, then I'd like to think I would have been the one to try to stop him.
"We have a kind of a sheltered community here. You've got this small, private-school feel. There's not a whole lot of kids coming from distressed backgrounds. But I guess you never know. There could be someone here who could go off like that.
"You know, a lot of schools, you see on the news, they had candlelight vigils and services, but it seems like here, they asked people to come out and bow their heads around the fountain, but I didn't see anyone do it. I saw maybe two or three bouquets of flowers, and that was it. I don't think it really hit home here. We're just so far removed from it."
Tiffany Leng, 20, USD, Sophomore, Biochemistry Major, Hawaii
"I felt like there was more of a community on campus after the shooting. You know, we folded paper cranes, which is an origami tradition -- they say you fold a thousand cranes and you get a wish -- so what we did was we tried folding a thousand. One of the organizations held it, I don't remember which one. But I did it. I folded, like, 20 of them. And we sent them to the school. We sent them to Virginia Tech. And then there was a lot of card-making and posters, and we sent a lot of these things to Virginia Tech. It was kind of a small turnout, maybe ten people at a time, but we did it. Actually, they got people to show up by offering free pizza.
"My friend Julie's cousin goes to Virginia Tech, and she knew one of the girls who was killed. She was pretty sad.
"It could happen here. It just takes one wrong person.
"We got an e-mail from the school after it happened, and they told us they were on it, and it could never happen here, and we have 24-hour security, and they reassured us. And I do feel safe here. I always see security cameras and security officers walking and driving around.
"I actually do have a friend who carries a gun. He says he has one in his room so that if anything happens, he'll be safe. I was, like, 'Okay.' He said it wasn't hard to get one. And he lives right by me, but I don't know. If something happened, I don't know if I'd feel safer because he has a gun or if I'd feel less safe.
"If I was at Virginia Tech, I think I would have played dead and kept really quiet. I don't know what I'd do.
"Since it happened, I think about it a lot. And I look at people differently when they walk by. Because I know it could happen anywhere. Like, this one girl I see a lot, and she looks really paranoid, so instead of walking by her now I'll walk around.
"I'm Asian, but I haven't had any backlash against me personally. Although I do have a friend in Boston who's Asian who told me that right after it happened she was in a store and she was trying to buy something, and the person said, 'Sorry, we're closed.' And they wouldn't let her purchase an item. And when she left, they reopened."
Justin Welfeld, 21, Mesa College, Sophomore, Business Major, Mission Beach
"I feel relatively safe. Most campuses are pretty well equipped to handle that kind of situation. I guess it all comes down to people trusting each other. I guess any campus is fair game for that kind of thing, and it all comes down to the types of people. Also, no matter how secure you try to make things, there's always someone who can find a way around it.
"I don't blame guns. I blame the pressure of college. The whole pressure of everything. The way people can act toward each other, which has a lot to do with people losing it.
"I was jaded after Columbine, so when I first heard about Virginia Tech, I was just, like, 'Oh, that happened again.' But then when I heard the full story, I realized it was a lot worse.
"It kind of stunned me that someone could get off that many shots without anyone subduing them or stopping them. Everyone was just kind of trying to save themselves. And I might say now that I'd be the hero, but who knows what it's like when someone's firing shots at you. But you'd think in a crowd of people, there'd at least be somebody...
"Since it happened, I've looked at some people and thought, 'Well, they're kind of questionable.' Like just the way they might talk. Not anything about appearance. It was just certain things they might say, where I'd think it was a little off. Like, there was this one kid who said, 'I'm just tempted to make things go my own way.' And he seemed like he was in his own little universe. And it was weird to hear him say that in light of what happened at Virginia Tech. I listened to him differently because of that."
Lucas Arnold, 26,
Public Administration Major, Santee
"I feel safe here. It's got a good vibe, good people, and I've never seen anyone I worry about here. Plus, I'm a big, strong guy, so I don't really worry about my safety too much. I'm six foot six, 240 pounds. And I was also in the military. I was in the Marine Corps for five years.
"I've thought about the lack of heroism at Virginia Tech. I'd like to think I would have done the right thing and tried to confront the guy. Because, honestly, if my back's against the wall, and I'm going to die, then I'd like to think I would go down fighting instead of on my knees. But I can't say I've ever been confronted with a situation like that.
"I own a gun. But I don't carry it in public. It's something I do for fun, for recreation. I don't feel I need it. I think carrying a gun is stupid. Nobody needs to carry a gun in this day and age. Guns are just for recreation. I think if people were carrying guns at Virginia Tech it would have helped about as much as if everybody carried a gun on an airplane. I mean, what are you going to do, hand everybody guns at the airport gate and say, 'Just in case somebody takes over the airplane, you've all got it covered'? It doesn't work like that. I mean, 90 percent of the people who shoot guns can't shoot for nothing. I'm actually amazed that that guy killed as many people as he did. When you look at shootings, like the Kehoe brothers... Did you ever see that video? The guy gets out of the van, the cop gets out of the squad car, and they come at each other, and they both pull out guns and start shooting. They both blow off a whole clip of rounds, and nobody hits nothing. Nothing. It's really hard to hit something. You ever shot a pistol before? It's challenging. I mean, just to sit there and relax and hit a target is tough enough. But to hit somebody who's moving, and you've got your adrenaline going, and you're moving too? That's hard. So when I saw how many people he killed, I thought, he must have known what he was doing, and he must have been point blank. But my point is, if you armed everybody, then nobody would be hitting what they want to hit. They'd all just be blam, blam, blam, blam and hitting innocent people and hitting everything by accident.
"I see weird people all the time. I mean, it's college, man. I mean, look at that guy. [Laughs.] And then you look at the guy who did the shooting. He was, what, about five foot seven, maybe 140 pounds soaking wet. Just this tiny little Asian kid. Who would have ever thought? Like, you see the kid with all-black hair and black makeup and he walks around with an angry look on his face, and you worry about that kid. But then it's this little, tiny, quiet English major who goes around killing everybody. Who knows, man?
"It could happen here, and it could happen anywhere. But you can't walk around afraid. You know, I ride a motorcycle in Southern California. I could get greased every single day. My chance of dying is, like, ten times higher than your chance of dying. See what I mean? Why worry about it?"
Brittney Cacan, 20, Mesa College, Sophomore, Speech Learning and Hearing Disorders Major, Riverside
"I definitely feel safe here. It's just as safe as anyplace. Like my apartment -- I've got a deadbolt, but, you know, anyone could break into my apartment if they really wanted to badly enough. You can't go around just watching your back. And I think you can step up security as much as you want, but it wouldn't really change anything.
"When it comes down to it, and you have to think, 'Right now, I can save myself or somebody else,' most people will go for themselves. Because if you're going to risk yourself, it would have to be for someone close to you. For instance, out of 20 people I see right here, I don't know any of them. I mean, it's a selfish thing, but I think most people would try to save themselves.
"I don't see any reason to carry a gun. Because something like what happened at Virginia Tech is so rare.
"I hate to say it, but it's natural for things like that to happen. It's a stressful world we live in. And, honestly, if something like that only happens once every couple of years, I'd say we're doing pretty good. Because you see poor people in Iraq, they deal with this kind of stuff every single day.
"I have two cousins who go to Virginia Tech. And they were in lockdown all day, and they stayed inside. They didn't really know anyone who was involved. But of course, they were jittered. They say it's kind of like a cloud over the school, and no one can say anything about it. Like, I can say freely, 'Something like that's going to happen every couple of years,' but no one at Virginia Tech can say that or they'll be a complete outcast. They're too close to it.
"I don't mean to sound heartless, because I'm one of the most compassionate people you'll ever meet. I'm a vegetarian. I don't even eat animals. I mean, I'm a vegan! But I'm also realistic. I know that people will freak out sometimes. No one knows what was going on in that poor boy's life."
Brendon Choi, 18, Mesa College, Freshman, Management Major, Rancho Bernardo
"It could probably be safer on campus. I don't know. I mean, we have a lot of security officers, but they're always together in groups, and I never really see them anywhere except for the cafeteria. But maybe I'm just seeing them at the wrong times.
"But maybe too much security would invade people's privacy.
"I'd say, 'Ban all the guns,' but you know that's not going to happen. And even if we did ban all the guns, people would still get them somehow.
"I've noticed a couple of looks here and there, since the incident. Because I'm Asian. They might not know if I'm Korean or not, but I've sensed some looks, I think because I'm Asian. And everyone was like, 'Be careful. Be careful at school.' My family warned me that my life's going to be different because this kind of thing's never happened to a Korean person, and it's happened to a Korean person now. But aside from some looks, I haven't really had any trouble.
"Right now, because I don't have a gun pointed at me, I'd say that I would do something heroic. But if I had a gun pointed at me, I'd probably just drop to my knees.
"In the news, they said the shooter was a very lonely kid. So when I see kids here that look lonely, then I think about them in light of that."
Courtney Orebaugh, 19, SDSU, Sophomore, Mathematics Major,
Ocean City, Maryland
"The thing I noticed on campus -- you know, after 9/11 happened, it was kind of different but kind of the same, it was a terrorist act -- and I noticed that people kind of united. So, around here, a lot of people put together memorial things to send over there. I wasn't a part of any of that, but I wish I was.
"My parents called after the shooting, because they were worried. But I feel safe on this campus, and I told them that I thought everything would be all right. But then San Diego State had a threat a couple days later. Some guy on myspace.com or facebook.com said he was going to come to State and shoot more people than the guy at Virginia Tech. And he was trying to get publicity for his website or something. And my stepfather just told me not to go on campus if I could help it. But I live a block away. And I didn't think anything was really going to happen here. I mean, that kind of thing could happen anywhere. It just takes one individual who isn't in their right mind. But I feel pretty safe here, in general.
"I don't know if I look at people differently now, but I do think of the past, and I try to think of who that could have been, you know, from my past. Like, if there was anyone I knew in high school who could end up doing something like that.
"People said he was shy and didn't talk very much and when they invited him out, he didn't want to go. And then he just exploded. And the fact that he could get guns was a big part of it. I think only people who are specialized in carrying guns should be able to have them. Like the police.
"I think there's very few people who could sit there and say that they would take a bullet for someone. I think a lot of people are more looking out for themselves. And we don't go through stuff like that every day. So when something like that does happen, I think we just go more into survival mode. I probably would have jumped out of the window too, I think. Those people who jumped out of the window were able to save themselves."
Laurel Smith, 21, SDSU, Junior, International Security and Conflict Resolution Major, Los Altos, California
"I didn't really notice any change on campus here at all after the shooting. I think one of my professors discussed it. And I think there was a candlelight vigil one night after class. And we had a threat right after it, apparently, although it wasn't real. We also got e-mails from the school after the shooting, telling us they had everything under control, but I don't really remember what it said.
"I feel safe because I'm really aware, personally. There seem to be a lot of random rapes and violent crimes and stuff like that, but I feel safe because I'm aware.
"The guns were definitely an issue. Maybe we should make some amendments to our Constitution. I'm very anti-guns.
"I heard about the one professor who tried blocking the door and got shot. But I don't know. I probably would have hidden if I was there.
"I like to think the best of people. I don't know anyone who could do something like that."
Alicia Georguson, 22, SDSU, Junior, Business Management Major, Lodi, California
"There's a lot of campus security here, and there's a lot of police on campus, so I feel really safe here. It probably could be safer. I guess anything could be safer. But I don't know if you should take it to the extent where you feel like you're in jail. One thing I think they could do here is lock the classrooms after classes are done. A lot of times I'll see classrooms open late at night when I have to go do something on campus, and there's doors open that probably shouldn't be. I've also heard about a lot of rapes and fights on campus, but it seems like they're mostly in sororities and fraternities. And I don't worry about that kind of stuff too much because I'm pretty careful when I'm on campus and I'm usually with people who I trust and know.
"If I was in that situation at Virginia Tech, I definitely would have tried to do something. I mean, there's so many people at risk. And one person is a lot less important than 30 or 40 people. I don't know, but I'd definitely try to do something. Like maybe try to talk to him rationally. Like, 'What's wrong? What are you feeling?' Or maybe I'd just freak out. Actually, I'd probably just freak out. I don't know.
"I definitely looked at people differently after the shooting. Like, 'Could that person be scary?' It made me feel like I didn't really know anyone. But I tried not to stereotype anyone and to keep my mind open. Just because people are different I still have to get a chance to know them instead of just trying to judge them right away."
Corey Kaufman, 21, SDSU, Senior, Business Management and Political Science Major, Redlands, California
"I noticed a change in myself after the shooting, but I'm not so sure I noticed a change in other people. I felt myself kind of looking over my shoulder and looking at people from a little bit different perspective. But other than that, I didn't really notice a day-to-day change. Like, me walking to class was the same as the day before the shooting. And being in class was the same. I only had one professor who even talked about the shooting. So I don't know if I was trying to notice things that were different or if things were actually different, but I didn't like the feeling of having to look over my shoulder.
"I see officers here on campus every day, and I think they have things pretty much under control. I feel pretty safe here. I don't think they should do anything any differently to protect us.
"If more people had guns at Virginia Tech, I think it would have been even worse. It probably would have meant more stray bullets could have killed even more people. Students, especially, carrying guns and getting out of hand once they see another student carrying a gun, I think that could lead down a very dangerous road.
"I feel like people like that are going to come across weapons no matter what the restrictions are. If he's got it in his mind to get a gun, and he's got the dedication to carry it out, then it's going to happen one way or another.
"I heard that a professor blocked a door and took round after round so his students could jump out the windows. That's the only act of heroism I heard of. It really depends on the situation, but I probably would have done what everyone else did. You can't expect a student to go running at him and try to save the day.
"It has happened here before. In 1996. They said a grad student went in for his thesis evaluation and he had a handgun and he ended up killing the three evaluators. And yes, I think it could happen here again. It could happen anywhere."