Questions for University Administration After Third Fatal Student Shooting

The University’s response to the recent shootings has been insufficient—it’s time for substantive change.

By Kai Vetteth

Author’s Note: I originally sent a version of this article as an email to several members of the University administration on Tuesday. As of publishing, none have responded.

Why do these incidents keep happening?

What countermeasures has the University taken to keep students safe after the first fatal shooting? The second? The third? Why have they in each case been insufficient at preventing additional student deaths?

It’s especially concerning that the shootings occurred in the daytime and north of campus. It is also concerning that, according to Maroon reporting, none of the victims were initially engaging in high-risk behavior like walking alone at night, provoking strangers, or being publicly inebriated.

Why have the University’s responses to each shooting been so tepid?

After the first fatal shooting, the community was essentially told that because the shooting was a random act of violence—University Chancellor Robert Zimmer wrote in an email to students that the shooting did not “indicate an ongoing threat to our community”—structural change was not warranted.

After the second fatal shooting, the University implied that the problem was that the student was on the Green Line—a message from Provost Ka Yee Lee and Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen emphasized that the shooting’s location was an “an off-campus Chicago Transit Authority train”—and started the Lyft Pass program a month later as a de facto response. None of the students who have been killed died during the late-night time frame in which the program is usable. So, a Lyft Pass could not have prevented any of their deaths.

It’s possible that the measures I’ve mentioned and other ones that the University has taken, such as increasing police presence, may well have prevented even more violence. So, I hesitate to say that the University’s responses have been totally ineffective. But, as this third fatal shooting has demonstrated, they have been insufficient.

In the four quarters since January, three current or recent students—Yiran Fan, Max Solomon Lewis, and Shaoxiong Zheng—have been shot and killed. At this rate, before I graduate, eight more of my classmates will die.

Or I will die.

I no longer buy the “random acts of violence” argument. Students are clearly in imminent mortal danger—even in the daytime, even close to campus, even when we act safely.

What will the University do to protect us?

Kai Vetteth is a second-year in the College.