April 20, 2007

University mourns Va. Tech victims

[img id="80215" align="alignleft"] Across campus, students, faculty, and administrators have responded to Monday’s shooting at Virginia Tech that claimed the lives of 33 people with an outpouring of support and reminders of the resources available to students who may have been affected by the tragedy.

First-year Jill DiNucci didn’t find out about the shooting until late in the day on Monday, after receiving messages from her parents. After learning of the day’s events, she immediately called her friends at Virginia Tech, who informed her that her friend, Virginia Tech first-year Hilary Strollo, had gone into surgery after being shot three times. Strollo is in stable condition at a Blacksburg-area hospital.

DiNucci does not know the exact circumstances of her friend’s shooting. “Finding out that she was shot was enough for me,” she said. “I was trying to avoid finding out more.”

The University community’s response has been “very moving,” she said. “I think it’s very powerful to see everyone coming together.”

Third-year Daniel Boutwell, whose twin brother attends Virginia Tech, agreed, saying that the response from the University has been very supportive.

“[The University] sent e-mails this week to anyone from Virginia, saying people were available if you wanted to talk to someone,” Boutwell said. “The reaction from the community as a whole has been very heartfelt.”

Over 100 people attended a service held in Bond Chapel yesterday in memory of the victims.

“We thought that the opportunity to reflect would be helpful for us,” Alison Boden, the dean of Rockefeller Chapel, said at the ceremony. “These were teachers at blackboards, students in their dorm rooms, people just visiting campus for the day. They were you and me.”

In addition to Boden, speakers included Rev. Robert Smith, the Lutheran campus pastor, who read a note from a campus minister from Virginia Tech; Reverend Stacy Alan, the chaplain of the Episcopal Center; student representatives of the Christian Scientist, Jewish, and Muslim traditions; and friends of students at Virginia Tech. The speakers offered prayers of healing and comfort for the community of Blacksburg.

All kinds of people have been affected by the events at Virginia Tech, said John Boyer, dean of the College. Boyer said that his daughter, a teacher, had known Lesley Sherman, one of the victims, from one of her classes.

Boyer said that currently, the central dean’s office is reviewing ways of communicating with students in case of an emergency, “a conversation that is going on in every college.” The University will know more about what caused the shootings after the investigation headed by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine produces a report, he said.

Susan Art, the dean of students, echoed Boyer, saying in an e-mail that even for people with no direct relationship to the Virginia Tech campus, this kind of event can evoke past traumas.

“I know that the staff at Student Counseling, in undergraduate Housing, and in my office are prepared to speak with concerned students and to offer the support they need,” she said.

The Student Counseling and Resource Service (SCRS) is hosting a discussion in response to the shooting on Monday as one of the many ways the University is reaching out to those affected, said Martina Munsters, the deputy dean of students.

“We have a very good, very strong counseling service that’s pretty visible,” Munsters said. “What’s really important to me is that those students who have concerns, who are affected, that they make contact with somebody. There is help on this campus. There are a lot of people who care and who can help you.”