UCLA shooting prompts concern for faculty training on aggressive students

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The news that Mainak Sarkar allegedly killed his former UCLA dissertation adviser sent shockwaves at other college campuses, especially among faculty who’ve dealt with aggressive students before.

“There are people who said, you know, ‘Oh my goodness, now we are not only going to be worried about current students and colleagues, now we also have to worry about former students,” said Peter Krapp, department chair of Film and Media Studies at U.C. Irvine.

UCLA has not said whether Sarkar showed aggressive warning signs while he was a student, and that all mental health counseling records are private, even after a student's death.

As a department chair at UC Irvine, Krapp gets eight days of training a year on how to handle aggressive students and colleagues. He thinks all faculty and teaching assistants need that training.

“We are increasingly rolling out training that trains faculty to recognize signs of stress or signs of not-standard behavior and to refer people,” to address drug abuse, depression or distress, he said.

On Thursday, UCLA offered their professors training on how to deal with aggressive students.

The shooting hit Marissa Lopez hard. She’s a professor of English and Chicano Studies at UCLA. Her 10-year-old son attends a school near campus that was on lockdown Wednesday.

She said she’s never felt threatened by students or colleagues, but the shooting has planted some fear in her mind.

“I think that I will evaluate students the same way, I would not pass a student because I had some irrational fear that they might shoot me, but it will certainly be something I think about,” Lopez said.

UCLA also sent an email to students and staff that counseling was available. 

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