eve carson.gif On March 5, the president of the University of North Carolina student body, 22-year-old Eve Carson, was murdered in a residential neighborhood off campus. By all accounts, she was a motivated, personable young woman bubbling over with personal motivation. Today, the first day after that school's spring break, students stopped by a willow tree on campus to memorialize Carson with bundles of flowers, personal remembrances and poetry.

Happily, two men have already been arrested and indicted in connection with the murder. So why, then, does the mood on the UNC campus continue to be somber?

"It's just a tragedy," a fellow student body officer tells an NPR correspondent by way of explanation.

It's just a tragedy.

I know what he means. The brutal slaying of his friend and fellow student is nothing less than horrific and life-altering. But that's only one definition of the word just : an adverb meaning quite or very much so.

Let's twist the inflection a bit.

It's just a tragedy. (This is accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.) Just is an adverb, meaning barely or simply. This version is honest. No one can argue that losing a bright, intelligent young woman to a random act of violence (especially at the hands of a repeat-offender who ought to have been locked up at the time) is tragic. What more can the guy be expected to say?

Have we become too callous to these crimes against students? School is no longer safe, no longer a haven. Today, students must worry that the musician in the hall next to them is toting a gun rather than a guitar in that big, black carrying case with the ANARCHY ROCKS bumper sticker slapped on the neck. Is fear just part of the university gig now-a-days?

It shouldn't be. After all, there's nothing just about a guy going off his meds and, after penning a note to his girlfriend, going postal on a lecture hall full of students he didn't even know. Hmmmm... just is an adjective denoting something being reasonable or conforming to that which is righteous or good.

This wordplay with just is just too much fun. Let's use it in relation to the young man most recently connected to Carson's death.

He has been indicted now in connection with the murder of a Duke University grad student, a crime which took place just six weeks ago.

The victim of that murder, Abhijit Mahato, was shot in the forehead from just inches away.

At the time of his arrest, the suspect had little of value in his pockets: just a cell phone and an iPod which connected him to the murder of Mahato.

The suspect was on probation for two crimes he'd been convicted of in November of 2007; these weren't felonies. Just misdemeanors.

For these crimes, larceny and breaking and entering, the suspect was given the just sentence of two years in jail.

The judge presiding over the sentencing, probably dealing with overcrowding in the correctional facilities in the state, chose to just suspend that sentence instead.

In the six weeks between the murders of Mahato and Carson, the suspect was arrested twice. Not in multiple places... just Durham, NC.

Durham, NC is just 11.5 miles from UNC at Chapel Hill.

And rather than running through the laundry list of crimes (9) which led to those two arrests, let's just say it includes burglary, breaking and entering and resisting arrest.

Prior to Carson's murder, the suspect had just been released on bond .

(These facts were pulled from an article posted on March 17th by WRAL.com, a Fox News affiliate.)

Considering this list, assuming that the reporter did his research, I'd say that my resulting personal outrage is just . And, since just one of those points alone should have meant that the suspect remained in jail rather than being uncaged to brutalize a functional, promising member of society, I hope that this means the proverbial crap just hit the fan in North Carolina.

Let's just hope the justice departments nationwide are taking notice.