Virginia shooting shows need for safety awareness on college campuses


Virginia shooting shows need for safety awareness on college campuses


By: Laura Chapman
Posted: 4/17/07
The university community was stunned Monday morning when a gunman killed more than 30 people, including students, at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va.

Though more than 1,000 miles separate the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus from Virginia Tech, UNL students and faculty members felt shock as well. University Police said they have made plans for a response to similar emergencies.

David Solheim, the president of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, said the incident was almost surreal.

"I couldn't believe that something like this would happen on a college campus," said Solheim, a senior economics and international studies major. "It really makes you take your own daily life into perspective."

Ali Moeller, the president of the Academic Senate, also expressed disbelief at the shootings in an e-mail interview.

"It is difficult to find the words to describe such a monumental tragedy," she said.

Moeller also said she was angry that laws allowed the shooter to have a weapon.

"The lives of so many young men and women erased by the bullets of a madman is incomprehensible," she said.

Capt. Carl Oestmann of University Police said the department is prepared for situations such as this.

The preparation includes the ability to notify people of an emergency, plans to restrict access to academic and residence halls and investments in law enforcement equipment.

Oestmann said University Police also has working relationships with other law enforcement agencies in the city, county and state.

"It takes a combination of all of the systems to work together," he said.

Solheim said Mobile Campus, a service ASUN has looked into investing in, could be a beneficial contact tool for the university in such emergency situations as the shootings at Virginia Tech. The service would allow UNL to send text messages to students.

Though some might find the service expensive, it could be worth it, he said.

"How much value do you put on a life?" Solheim said.

Oestmann also offered his condolences to the Virginia Tech campus.

In a late afternoon statement, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said the university had already received condolences and messages of support from around the world. He said the well wishes were appreciated as the university worked to move forward in the next few days.

"I cannot begin to convey my own personal sense of loss over the senselessness of such an incomprehensible and heinous act," he said.

A convocation will be held on Virginia Tech's campus today to help students and faculty members grieve.

From her dorm room at Virginia Tech, Rachel Gicquelais, a freshman biology major, said she looks forward to attending.

"I may not know anyone personally who died," Gicquelais said, "but I know all of us are going to be affected by the fact that part of our student body is gone."

Gicquelais said she was in class when she found out about the first shooting, which took place in a residence hall around 7 a.m., leaving two dead. While the students in her class discussed the rumors behind that shooting, her building went into lockdown, she said.

After waiting in the classroom for a couple hours, where her teaching assistant let the students go online to look for updates, Gicquelais was allowed to walk back to her dorm.

Gicquelais had to take an alternative route back to her dorm, as the normal path would have taken her by Norris Hall, where 31 people were killed, including the gunman.

Gicquelais said university officials kept students informed with frequent e-mails. Despite the shootings earlier in the day, she said the university did its best to ensure the safety of students.

For the rest of the day, Gicquelais was glued to the television and Internet for updates. Watching the video footage of the campus has been strange for her, she said.

"I know exactly where the videos are taken," she said. "I've walked where they are."


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


Laura Chapman


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Laura Chapman, “Virginia shooting shows need for safety awareness on college campuses,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 25, 2024,