The scholars and experts included:
- a writer and PhD candidate in English literature
- the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
- a professor of international politics
- a professor of English
- an assistant professor of public policy and political science
- an assistant professor of sociology and women's and gender studies
- a PhD candidate in anthropology
- a dean of a School of Arts & Sciences
- a professor of management
- a professor of history
Even so, Amy Bishop was an assistant professor of biology. Does it seem odd to anyone else that there were no biology or other science professors in this particular group of academics commenting on the incident? I looked up the chancellor and the dean and learned that their field of expertise is psychology, so perhaps they come the closest, but that's not the same as getting the opinion of someone who has recently experienced the tenure process as a scientist.
I realize that a biology professor would not necessarily have any more insight into the general implications of the incident than those who provided comments in this piece in the Chronicle. And I still stand by my overall view (shared by the PhD candidate in English literature) that the murders were the actions of an imbalanced person with a rage problem (and a gun), and the tragedy was therefore not a direct result of the stresses of academia in general or the tenure evaluation system in particular.
Still, I think it is strange that in an otherwise diverse group, not one is a science professor with direct knowledge of what it is like to get tenure as a scientist today at a university. Consider how bizarre it would have been if an English professor (for example) had committed a heinous crime that may or may not have been related to the experience of being an English professor, and the only people asked to comment (in a particular series of essays) were science, engineering, and math professors.
I also think it would have been illuminating to read, for comparison, the thoughts of a scientist recently denied tenure. With all due respect to the PhD candidates and literary scholars who wrote thoughtful essays for the piece, surely the Chronicle could have found some current or former science professors -- ideally in the life sciences -- to comment?
I don't want to perpetuate an "us" (scientists) vs. "them (non-scientists) mentality, but often when I read about academia, in the Chronicle and elsewhere, the point of view of non-scientists is the only one represented. This gives a very incomplete view of academia and the lives of academics, in general and in extreme cases. Although we have much in common as researchers and educators, there are also significant differences that, at times, merit consideration.