Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Purdue Professors Under Fire For Joking With Students About Shooting During Lockdown

As campus-wide texts alerted students on Purdue's West Lafayette campus that the school was on lockdown due to a shooting in the campus' Electrical Engineering Building, some students complained that their professors treated the incident as a joking matter. A YouTube clip uploaded by Anthony Casazza, recorded comments Professor Rebecca Trax, a continuous term lecturer at the Krannert School of Management, made to her students after one of the students in her classroom alerted her to a text message students had just received alerting them to a shooting on campus. Trax's reaction suggests that she wasn't receiving the same text message notification students were receiving during her class, presumably because she wasn't holding her cell phone during class.

Trax responded, "Is it asking us to do anything?" Trax then joked about catching the shooter in her lecture hall that holds approximately 300 students according to Casazza. She joked about the involvement of Purdue's engineering students and said she would have her teaching assistant tackle anyone who came in the lecture hall's door. "Okay, you engineering students, what are they doing to you?" the accounting professor rhetorically asked. "Okay, let's focus. I know this is kind of disruptive," she continued as some students can be heard laughing. "We cannot lock the doors due to fire marshal regulations," Trax told her students. According to Purdue Review, Trax was not the only professor dismissive of the text alerts sent campus-wide concerning yesterday's shooting. Read more here.

UPDATE: The Journal & Courier is reporting that police detained a Purdue Exponent student reporter and seized his camera while he was covering the shooting yesterday at the Electrical Engineering Building. Police claimed they seized the camera for potential evidence. The student reporter was held for questioning by police for nearly two hours. The student's camera equipment was later returned. The story notes that federal law prohibits the search or seizure “of any work product materials possessed by a person reasonably believed to have a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper” or a similar form of public communication. The Exponent has more:
Exponent photo editor Michael Takeda, a junior in the College of Technology, was slammed to the ground by the Purdue Police after being found in the Electrical Engineering Building taking photos. The area had not been closed off to the public at the time.
The officers confiscated Takeda’s camera and photos, detained and questioned his whereabouts within the building, which was then on lockdown after being held by the police for roughly three hours.
“I understand the severity of this event, and I respect that. But as a working journalist, I wish I had my rights not violated (and my rights) enforced,” Takeda said.
Takeda was released from the police. However, it was only after Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, prodded the University that Takeda’s belongings were bequeathed to him.
“They were very cooperative, and they recognized right away that this was a serious situation that required their immediate attention,” LoMonte said.
LoMonte said, though the University was helpful in releasing Takeda’s belongings, it was just the police’s instinct to retrieve his belongings, despite the possible infringement of a federal law.

Here's another YouTube clip taken in a lecture hall in the same building where the shooting occurred where initial reaction upon hearing and seeing police outside the building was laughed off until someone enters the room a few minutes later and asks the students to evacuate the room.

It looks like there's a lot of disbelief among the friends and acquaintances of the shooting suspect, Cody Cousins. The Journal & Courier reports that he once worked as a student reporter for the Exponent in 2011.
The news of Cody Cousins' alleged involvement in Tuesday afternoon's fatal shooting at Purdue University came as a shock to Thomas Gräber, a friend and former classmate.
The two met in 2009 when they sat next to each other in a philosophy course at Purdue, said Gräber, who is currently enrolled at Vincennes University.
The picture Gräber described of Cousins — a man he said enjoyed playing basketball, shopping, going to the bar and writing — is anything but the description of a killer.
"It's obvious he is intellectual, well-spoken, courteous and respectable," Gräber said. "He was one of those guys who you could sit down and have real good heart-to-hearts with.
"I'm in shock. I'm confused. I don't want to believe that this actually has happened. … Cody is a very nonviolent person, politically and personally. He would never tell a story about getting in a fight."
Cousins, of Centerville, Ohio, was a teacher's assistant for professor David Meyer, which seems to be the lead connection between Cousins and the man he is accused of killing — Andrew Boldt, 21, who also was a teacher's assistant for Meyer.
Springboro Schools Superintendent Todd Petrey said Cousins graduated from Springboro High School in 2008.
During his time as a student, Petrey said Cousins didn't have disciplinary problems and excelled academically. He pointed out that Cousins was especially strong in the area of technology.
"Our prayers and thoughts go out to the Purdue victim's family and Cody's family," Petrey said.
The Purdue Exponent confirmed that Cousins worked as a staff reporter for one semester in 2011. No one in the newsroom was able to give any insight into Cousins' personality, history or hobbies . . .


Marycatherine Barton said...

This mean police harassment of the young Purdue Exponent student reporter reminds me of the warning Don Wassall, the Executive Director of the American Freedom Union, wrote its supporters in December, concerning the vast power of the military, security, paranoia complex in America. TRAGIC!

I read that there is even a youtube video explaining how this complex/mob creates new identities for people claimed to be dead. I am trying to find it.

Anonymous said...

uh, the exponent photog was in the building photographing the crime scene before the police had secured the area. he should have known better and is lucky he wasn't charged with altering a crime scene.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The photographer was doing what any good journalist would have done under the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Right, because getting the story is more important. If there was still an active shooter in building you'd be blaming the police. Poor guys just can't win..

Gary R. Welsh said...

Indiana's most celebrated journalist, Ernie Pyle, was killed covering WWII from the battlefield in the Pacific Theater. Good reporters go where the news is. That reporter was there before the police arrived and evacuated the building. He had every right to take risks to get the story.

Marycatherine Barton said...

The press is the fourth estate. Our founding fathers gave us the Bill of Rights for a reason, and thank God, thank goodness, for the FIRST Amendment to the Constitution. and brave honest investigative journalists who cover the news for we the people.

We should protect and honor THEM, not the ones who are not independent and resourceful. I am glad to read here that the law center for the Perdue Exponent immediately got on the case, and retrieved Takeda's belongings, that were taken from him. I pray that Perdue never again experiences such a shooting!