March 06, 2001 11:00 pm

We hoped shootings

were things of past

If theres something we wanted to leave behind in the last century it was school shootings. The memories of Columbine High School in Colorado and Thurston High School in Springfield are painful.

The incident Monday at a high school near San Diego that claimed the lives of two students and injured 13 makes us realize that school shootings continue to be a dark sickness in our society that must be vigorously addressed.

The situation is all too familiar. Charles Andy Williams, a freshman at Santana High School, is charged with shooting classmates and staff members.

Williams, 15, apparently had been picked on in school. He had spoken to some people about shooting classmates, but he wasnt taken seriously enough to be turned in to authorities.

Surveillance cameras, such as those installed at La Grande High School, and metal detectors in entrances of schools might become more commonplace following this latest act of violence. But thats only part of the answer.

Whats alarming is that fellow students and an adult acquaintance said they had heard Williams threats over the weekend, but thought he was joking and did not report him to authorities.

The other common thread is how school shooters are often picked on by classmates. Williams apparently sought retaliation because of the harassment. He was picked on because he was one of the scrawniest guys, said student Jessica Moore. People called him freak, dork, nerd, stuff like that.

Students and adults, alike, must do a better job of taking seriously a student who is threatening to harm others. The student must be reported immediately. Schools also must emphasize the importance of good citizenship, convincing young people that making disparaging remarks about other students like freak or dork is totally unacceptable and will never be tolerated.

Beyond the campus

Congratulations to Eastern Oregon University for its fine effort in gathering food for the area. The people of Union County are grateful.

The campus community, made up of students, faculty and staff, pulled together to collect a total of 4,284 pounds of food and $2,289 in cash donations to help feed the hungry of the county.

Colleges and universities often are viewed as isolated places, focused solely on their mission of providing an education and granting degrees.

EOU President Phil Creighton wants the Eastern family to have an outside focus, involved in meeting some of the needs of the surrounding community. The food drive is the kind of out- reach effort that the community notices and appreciates.