A Dark Day in April


A Dark Day in April


Apr 17 2007

Yesterday marked one of the darkest days in United States history, as the campus of Virginia Tech collapsed to the tune of gunshots, cries and panic. The morning's horrific aftermath was broadcast on every major news network: students sprinting across campus; SWAT teams taking cover next to their vehicles; an exasperated and exhausted police chief and university president, trying to explain how a bastion for safety and growth — a college campus — could suddenly become the setting for a nightmare of unimaginable proportions.

The event bares a shocking resemblance to the 1999 Columbine massacre and comes eight years to the week of what was once our country's worst school shooting.

Facts came in bursts; the banners of CNN.com changed right before our eyes; and the death toll seemed to double without any explanation. No one was able to affirmatively answer basic questions such as, "Who was involved?"

"What were the motives behind the shootings?" And if there was one killer, "Why was he able to roam free a second time and inflict even more harm?"

The tragedy hits home not only for Cornell students trying to reach their friends at Virginia Tech but also because of its chilling reminder that no university is immune to violence of this magnitude. At Cornell, we picture ourselves as existing in solitude and safety, removed from the harsh realities of aggression and evil that blot the world. Nearly every person that sets foot on the University has grown up in environments where such inhumane acts have never been commonplace.

But what if a lone gunman had opened fire at Kennedy Hall at 9:45 a.m. instead of Virginia Tech's Norris Hall? What if two students were dead by breakfast time at a North Campus dorm instead of at West Ambler Johnston Hall? Can the Cornell administration rationally and smoothly handle this seemingly unfathomable situation?

Evidence pouring in from Virginia Tech points to some degree of miscommunication and flawed procedure. Why were students huddled in dorm rooms and classrooms forced to scour the Internet for information about their own precarious situations? Why didn't the Virginia Tech administration lock the entire campus down until the violence was under control? What led the administration to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the killer had not only left campus, but also the state?

In the past, Cornell has had to grapple with acts of violence that seemed to spawn out of nowhere. In 1983, a 26-year old New York City man shot and killed two students and tried to take his own life in Low Rise 7. And last year's stabbing of Union student Charles Holiday is still fresh in the minds of many at C.U.

As the case of Virginia Tech has shown, a more appropriate administrative response may have prevented a cataclysmic loss of life. Cornell has proven incapable of preparing for a simple snow day — even with ample warning and preparation. We hope that Virginia Tech can self-examine its reaction to yesterday's crisis and determine if it could have improved its response. Hopefully, other universities will, in return, re-evaluate their own emergency response systems.

Our deepest thoughts, condolences and prayers go out to those affected by yesterday's events.


There But For The Grace...

This editorial asks the right questions. Most, however, are not aware of how close we came in 1983 to a tragedy nearly of yesterday&#39;s proportions. Before killing his two victims, the 1983 murderer held nearly a dozen students captive in that Low Rise 7 suite (I lived on the floor below). It was only because the man&#39;s primary target, a quiet, shy freshman girl, persuaded him to let most of the others go. Her bravery saved the lives of all but herself and her room-mate. What if she hadn&#39;t found the courage to do so? How would the University have responded? And as you&#39;ve asked, what would be the response today? Beyond the prayers and the tears, we have an obligation to those who died yesterday to make sure that this kind of horror doesn&#39;t happen again.

<i>By Joel Melby (&#39;84 at April 17, 2007 - 9:36am </i>

1983 killings

Thank you, Joel, for remembering the bravery on Yong Hee Suh &#39;87. She and her roommate, Erin Neiswand &#39;87, were the only victims that night. Many more could have died. It has been rough to watch the news today and think back to that Saturday night in 1983.

Fred Barber &#39;87
Historian and Webmaster, Class of 1987

<i>By Fred Barber &#39;87 at April 17, 2007 - 9:07pm </i>


Original Source: <a href=http://cornellsun.com/node/22937> Cornell Daily Sun - April 17, 2007</a>


Editorial Staff




Sara Hood


Jonny Lieberman <jdl46@cornell.edu>, <lieberman.jonny@gmail.com>




Editorial Staff, “A Dark Day in April,” The April 16 Archive, accessed September 28, 2023, https://april16archive.org/items/show/672.