SU community reacts to Virginia Tech massacre


SU community reacts to Virginia Tech massacre


By: Melissa Daniels
Posted: 4/17/07
The doors to Hendricks Chapel remained open on Monday, with a candle lit at the end of an aisle. Chaplains were available throughout the day, willing to talk to anyone who wished to enter.

The Virginia Tech shooting on Monday caused widespread raw emotion throughout the country, and Syracuse University was not exempt.

"Everybody's hearts are going out to Virginia Tech today," said Dean of Hendricks Chapel Thomas Wolfe. "This is a monumental disaster, a tragedy that has befallen them."

An unidentified gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm in the morning, beginning the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. By the end of the day, the death toll reached 33, including the death of the gunman himself.

Sources had varying reports throughout the day about whether the gunman committed suicide or if he was killed by police. A two-hour gap between shootings raised the possibility of more than one shooter.

Wolfe is also co-chair of the Critical Incident Management Team. The group touched base this morning after hearing about the shootings. The team, which focuses on human response in tragic events, encouraged contacting the counseling center and reflecting in Hendricks for students who may have been affected emotionally by the shooting.

"When something like this happens," he said, "the whole university community feels it."

Chancellor Nancy Cantor sent a letter to the president of Virginia Tech, extending Syracuse University's sympathies. Wolfe described the letter as "a very genuine gesture."

"The higher education world is a very connected world," he said.

Interim Chief of Public Safety Tony Callisto said SU is prepared for unexpected violent incidents like Monday's events at Virginia Tech as best as it can be.

"Every incident results in learning for the next time," he said.

Public Safety officers are trained in active shooting scenarios in case they would ever need to go after an armed suspect, Callisto said. They are also all trained as peace officers, meaning they are armed.

Active shooting scenario training was created a year after the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., which resulted in 15 fatalities.

"Officers are very proactive," Callisto said. "There are eight to 10 officers that patrol Syracuse University grounds 24 hours a day."

SU has close ties with the Syracuse Police Department, he said.

"Response is relatively immediate," said Callisto about reaction in a crisis situation.

Public Safety also has in-service training with the Office of Residence Life in the case of an assailant entering a dorm. On-duty resident advisers and residential security aides (RSAs) are instructed to call Public Safety if they see anything suspicious.

RSAs have hand-held radios that are connected to Public Safety and Syracuse police lines.

"Prevention is the best tool," Callisto said. "If you see something that's unusual, call us. If you see something that doesn't look right, call us. If something looks suspicious in any way, call us."

Student response to the event is widespread. The constant television news coverage and Internet postings let the word spread about the event as updates came in.

Anna Hadingham, president of the Student Peace Action Network at SU, expressed her concern about the recent violence.

"It worries me that a student would have a reason or feel a need to unleash that," she said. "We are looking and exposing ourselves to chaos and carnage."


Original Source:<a href=>The Daily Orange - April 17, 2007</a>


Melissa Daniels


The Daily Orange




Sara Hood


Peter Waack <>




Melissa Daniels, “SU community reacts to Virginia Tech massacre,” The April 16 Archive, accessed March 2, 2024,