Rivals in mourning

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Rivals in mourning

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A.J. Kornblith, Cavalier Daily Opinion Editor

AS A Yankee from Pittsburgh, when I first started looking at colleges I didn't even know what UVA and VT stood for, much less the history of their long and storied rivalry. But once I arrived at the University, I learned quickly that Wahoos and Hokies don't usually get along. Proper etiquette called for sneering whenever a person wearing Virginia Tech logos appeared, behaving as obnoxiously as possible at sporting events and the occasional defacement of a sporting venue thrown in for good measure.

The University and Virginia Tech are usually judged by their performances against one another, whether in the realms of academics, sports or the number of columns one can tastefully fit on a single campus. But the true measure of these rival institutions and their communities lies in their ability to set aside their competition and help one another under tragic circumstances.

The terrible slaughter of at least 33 students in Blacksburg yesterday morning represented such a disaster. While the tragedy shocked and saddened the entire country, it also brought out the best in the University community as students and their leaders reached out quickly and compassionately to lend Virginia Tech a hand in their time of most urgent need.

For those of us who spend much of our time in the Newcomb basement reporting on thinly-attended election debates and other examples of general student ambivalence, the speed of the reaction was shocking and inspiring. Almost as soon as students began to receive a steady trickle of news from television, the internet and friends around the state, the calls to help appeared almost immediately. By early afternoon Facebook groups such as "Hoos for Hokies," "Virginia Tech Needs Our Support," "Hoos Reaching Out To Hokies" and "Hoos Prayin for Hokies" among others were up and running, gaining nearly 3,900 members between them. Calls for donations went out, and CIOs were invited to join a growing grassroots effort.

Perhaps even more encouraging was the quickness with which our student leaders, so often criticized as lethargic, sprang into action to marshal the outpouring of support from students. Student Council in coordination with the University administration immediately planned a memorial vigil to be held tonight in the Amphitheatre at which President Casteen will speak.

Using the organizing power of Facebook, they quickly spread the word with help from eager students. Other organizations mobilized as well. The Fourth Year Trustees, for example, organized a bar night soliciting donations to be sent to Virginia Tech, also scheduled for this evening.

In any tragedy, we find ourselves filled with sorrow for the victims and their families. But a tragedy at Virginia Tech affects us here at the University more powerfully than a tsunami halfway around the world ever could. Throughout the day yesterday we saw not only the stories on the national news but frantically called, instant messaged and e-mailed friends and family members at Virginia Tech as we tried to make sure they were alright.

The pictures I saw and the stories I heard throughout the day hurt. But they will pale in comparison with the memory of steadying my friend's hand as she wept trying to text message a high school friend who lives in one of the buildings where the shootings occurred. Similar scenes played out across Grounds and across the state of Virginia. Students here were also possessed with a sense that "There but for the grace of God go I." The realization that this could have happened here makes us all the more eager to help our compatriots.

We still know few details about what exactly happened -- who exactly was hurt and why an individual decided to wreak such havoc on innocent students and staff. But this we know: The students, faculty and administration of Virginia Tech have our complete support as they cope with this catastrophe. Today, we mourn with our rivals.

A.J. Kornblith is an Opinion Editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at akornblith@cavalierdaily.com.

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.cavalierdaily.com/CVArticle.asp?ID=30148&pid=1582>The Cavalier Daily - April 17, 2007</a>

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A.J. Kornblith

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The Cavalier Daily

Date

2007-07-31

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Sara Hood

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Meggie Bonner <meggiebonner@gmail.com>

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eng

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A.J. Kornblith, "Rivals in mourning," in The April 16 Archive, Item #881, http://april16archive.org/items/show/881 (accessed July 23, 2014).