Jumping in

My personal encounter with violence on campus

Late last semester, as I walked onto Butte College’s main campus shortly before a class I taught, I heard loud voices. Turning my head, I saw a young man and a young woman engaged in a struggle by the side of the Learning Resources Building.

The man was violently pushing the woman by hitting his hands against her shoulders. I felt indignant to see this inappropriate behavior at the campus where I teach. Mustering my most commanding voice, I yelled at the young man to get his hands off the woman, and then I yelled to a bystander to call campus police, which she did.

When the man resumed his pushing behavior while the woman screamed, I yelled at him again—apparently more convincingly, as he stopped, and the woman—red-faced and sobbing—swiftly walked away. The man smirked and then came up the hill to where I stood.

In retrospect, I suppose I should have walked away from him, but I didn’t. I was intent on using my interviewing skills to extract as much information from him as I could.

By the time campus police rolled up a minute later, I had learned his first name, the young woman’s full name, the town where they lived, and the fact that only the woman was an enrolled student. After a brief discussion with one of the police officers, I went off to my classroom, where I shared with my students what had happened.

“Gosh, Mrs. Rooney,” one of them said. “You’re Rambo.”

Well—not quite.

Later, I learned from a campus police officer that, after being apprised of resources available to them, the couple had voluntarily sought counseling. “You made a difference by stepping forward and intervening,” the officer said.

I hope that’s true. I often wonder what has become of that couple.