Virginia Tech | Too close for comfort: Students cope with shootings on campus


Virginia Tech | Too close for comfort: Students cope with shootings on campus


By: Melanie Hicken
Posted: 4/26/07

Oklahoma City. Columbine. 9/11.

For a generation that came of age during such memorable acts of violence, tragedy is not new. But for the largest fatal shooting in U.S. history to occur on a college campus may hit a little too close to home.

"I was shocked," said sophomore Catherine Long of her initial reaction to the Virginia Tech shooting. "But mostly I was shocked to hear it was a student. You don't think of any of us doing that to other students."

Long said she couldn't help but have thoughts run through her head about what she would do in a similar situation.

"What if you were sitting in class and all of a sudden that happened to us," said Long, advertising major. "What would I do?"

Such scattered emotions ranged through campus last week as various members of the campus community explored their own feelings and connections to the incident.

"The higher education world is a very interconnected world," said Dean of Hendricks Chapel Thomas Wolfe, who co-chairs the Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT). Faculty research with faculty from other campuses, students have friends from high school at schools across the country, and the connections continue, he said.

"It's rare that you're not going to have had contact with or know someone at another campus," said Chancellor Nancy Cantor, comparing it to the "six degrees of separation" theory.

And indeed, as more information became available, direct Syracuse University connections to Virginia Tech began to come to light, Wolfe said, including a student who lost a friend to the shooter.

But even those not directly affected by the tragedy felt connected.

"Some may argue that it is hard to truly grieve or relate in a situation that we are so 'far removed from.' I beg to differ," wrote Student Association President Ryan Kelly in a letter published in The Daily Orange on April 18.

"We are very close to this situation. Virginia Tech is a peer institution, with students that come from near and far to make that university their home, just like many of us at Syracuse University," Kelly said. "To have such a tragedy occur at a place that most call home for four years is truly devastating. This tragedy could have happened just as easily on our campus as any other in the United States."

More than 400 students and members of the SU community expressed their emotions at a candlelight vigil held in Hendricks on April 17.

Hundreds more signed blank white sheets with messages of sympathy and condolences. The sheets were recently sent to the Virginia Tech campus.

Such events and activities were organized by the CIMT to help the campus cope with the tragedy.

Wolfe compared events like the vigil to an outreached hand open to take in everyone's scattered emotions after an earth-shattering event like Virginia Tech.

"The point is that's OK to feel this way," he said. "We are going to sort this stuff out over time, but right now this is the need and we will take our confusions, we'll take our fears, we'll take our anxieties, all those mixture of feelings and put them right here. And for today, that's enough."


Original Source:<a href=>The Daily Orange - April 26, 2007</a>


Melanie Hicken


The Daily Orange




Sara Hood


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Melanie Hicken, “Virginia Tech | Too close for comfort: Students cope with shootings on campus,” The April 16 Archive, accessed March 3, 2024,