Commentary: Trouble on college campuses is happening way too often these days

Commentary: Trouble on college campuses is happening way too often these days
November 25
11:10 2022

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Going to college has always been the goal for many students when they graduate from high school. They take courses and pass tests in high school which prepare them for what is called the college experience. Doing homework and writing essays were building blocks for attending college.

Back in the day in my Winston-Salem neighborhood, I saw older students leaving for college. In some ways, it served as motivation for younger students like me to follow in their footsteps. We simply wanted to be like them. They were our heroes.

Before ever enrolling in college, my friends and I had already been on a few college campuses. College students looked more serious and they were certainly carrying more books. At a young age, my parents told me that I was going to college, so the only question was what college I would attend.

As my high school graduation approached, I became more anxious and excited. In my community, education was valued and thought to be a key for a successful life. Colleges during my day were lively places to be. I never associated danger and misfortune with them. We went there to learn and to earn a degree.

Of course, we gained new friends and participated in all types of student activities. I was blessed to have been a student-athlete, which meant traveling to other cities and college campuses. I had the opportunity to see schools like Rider College in New Jersey and Tuskegee University in Alabama.

During my time in college, I never experienced any gun violence. Guns and other weapons were never a part of my conversations with other students. As a college administrator and teacher, I never had any experiences with students who had firearms.

So here we are now, and things have changed on the higher education landscape. It is both unbelievable and sad to see. How is it now that we can use guns, killings and colleges in the same sentence?

Yet here we are doing so with grief in our hearts and hurt in our voices. 

Field trips used to be fun trips for students and chaperones alike as I have taken many of them over my lifetime. This was not the case for students at the University of Virginia on Sunday, Nov. 13. Three UVA football players were killed and two other UVA students were wounded. Those losing their lives were Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry, according to reports.

UVA president James Ryan said, “This is a sad, shocking and tragic day for our UVA community. Let me say how deeply sorry I am for the victims and for their family and friends.”

The alleged assailant, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces murder charges and charges of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, according to UVA police chief Timothy Longo Sr. Jones was arrested approximately 80 miles east of Charlottesville without incident. As of now, there has not been a motive established; however, Christopher Jones was a former UVA football player.

Sadness and hopelessness overwhelm us.

Carla Williams, director of athletics at UVA, said, “We lost three talented and bright young men. We will never see what their impact on the world would have been, but we will never forget their impact on us.”

She added, “I miss Lavel, D’Sean and Devin. I pray for peace, comfort and hope for their parents and loved ones.”

Misery and death also happened to four students at the University of Idaho who were living off campus. Reports say they were likely stabbed while asleep. Their bodies were discovered on Sunday. The victims were Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen. The person responsible for this horrible act is still at large. The police have held 38 interviews. Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt told CNN she saw lots of blood on the wall and that the victims had been stabbed multiple times.

College communities are now in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. This trend must not continue because our future leaders need the education that colleges provide.


James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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