Florida Tragedy Hits 2 Colleges

Among those murdered were one student who had committed to attending the University of Indianapolis and another who was bound for Lynn University. Plus, past articles on colleges and national policies on gun violence.

February 19, 2018
 
Rhona Wise / AFP / Getty Images
Vigil for Florida victims

The mass shooting at a Florida high school last week is hitting two colleges hard. Two of the victims had been admitted to and committed to attend their institutions. They were the oldest of the high school students who were killed.

Nicholas Dworet, 17, was a champion swimmer with Olympic ambitions. He was a recruited athlete who was going to enroll at the University of Indianapolis this fall.

Robert L. Manuel, president at Indianapolis, said in a statement that he (and the coach who recruited Dworet) had been in touch with the teenager's family. "Nick’s death also reminds us of the far-reaching impact of these national acts of violence. We will find ways in the coming days to help Nick’s family -- and I hope our Greyhound family can come together to engage the questions raised by these shootings and ensure that our community continues to be a safe place for all of our students, faculty and staff," Manuel said.

Meadow Pollack, 18, was a senior who planned to attend Lynn University. The university's admissions office posted this statement on Facebook: "Our thoughts go out to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims, to their families and friends, and especially to the Pollack family. Meadow Pollack, an 18-year-old from Parkland, Florida, was admitted to Lynn University and was due to join us this fall. She was a lovely young woman and full of energy. We were very much looking forward to having her on campus. We will keep Meadow in our hearts and memories."

Past tragedies involving gun violence have prompted discussion of the role of higher ed in studying and preventing gun violence.

  • In October, the mass shooting in Las Vegas led to discussion of why federal agencies avoid studies that might illuminate policy on gun violence. A key reason is part of an appropriations bill enacted in 1996, provisions of which remain law. The key provision bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using funds to support research that “may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Social science groups have long pushed to repeal the 1996 provisions, although Republicans in Congress have resisted any change. The American Educational Research Association, in the wake of the Florida school shooting, renewed its call for a change in the law.
  • In 2012, in the wake of the murders of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, two open letters from college presidents, calling for national action on gun violence, circulated and attracted hundreds of signatures. But as one of the organizers noted 18 months later, no policies changed.

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