I’ve just spent an unhealthy half hour skimming the personal home page of Tony Polito, the 67-year-old academic who murdered three people (all apparently faculty or staff) at UNLV yesterday, before he was killed in a shootout with police. Polito was old-fashioned enough to use a handgun rather than a semi-automatic rifle, hence the modest by American standards death toll. In any event the incident naturally terrorized the entire campus, which has been shut down for the rest of the week, right at the beginning of the finals period.
Polito taught at business schools for about 25 years, primarily East Carolina. He doesn’t seem to have had a tenure track job, and it’s difficult to sort out from his CV when or whether he was a full time faculty member, as opposed to an adjunct in a purely contingent position. (Early indications suggest that he killed the people at UNLV that he killed because of a failed job application to the school).
Anyway, the home page has lots of evidence of an obsessive personality. For example, he has a document on the webpage containing 109 pages of positive student comments from more than 20 years of course evaluations. His CV is 47 pages long, and is filled with things like notations of the date he wrote letters of recommendations for students, including the names of the students, which seems improper to me, although not as improper as his exercise of his Second Amendment rights. (Sorry for the black humor but everybody’s got to get over).
I suppose there may be an interesting story here about how America and academia and American academia drive people mad, and a lot of those people have guns, because America.
And again, these kinds of mass shootings function as a form of domestic terrorism, whatever the personal motivations of the shooters (almost always male, a detail that we simply take for granted) may be. University students now know that if a funny-sounding alarm goes off while they’re in class, there’s a good chance it means someone is walking around shooting people, and that they should run, hide, and resist, in that order, according to the experts and consultants we now have in such matters.
What a country.