Forum looks at current issues


Forum looks at current issues


<b>Media&#39;s responses to Virginia Tech shootings spur discussion about ethnicity, mental health, violence</b>

By Eli Rosenberg
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The issues of ethnicity, mental health, and violence in American society were some of the key topics addressed yesterday at a forum organized in response to the shootings at Virginia Tech.

The talk, titled "Media, Ethnicity and Public Response," was sponsored by both Student Psychological Services and the Dashew International Center, and was moderated by Elizabeth Gong-Guy and Bob Erickson, the directors of each organization, respectively.

"International students and scholars have great concern about issues of violence in American society, and this event gives them opportunity to participate in the discussion of this issue at UCLA," Erickson said.

He said Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16 before taking his own life, was originally reported erroneously to be an international student.

A few people expressed surprise that the issue of Cho&#39;s Korean ethnicity was such a focal point of debates that took place after the issue.

Gong-Guy described how she was brought to tears after listening to the apology of Cho&#39;s sister on the radio.

"(It was) the idea that she was apologizing not for herself or her brother, but for all Koreans and Asians on the whole," Gong-Guy said.

The discussion, which covered questions of violence, mental health and racial relations in American culture, highlighted some of the issues brought up in the media after the shootings.

Most of the seven participants seemed critical of the media&#39;s handling of the shootings, particularly in the early stages of the crisis.

"Media seeks to take the most sensationalized portrayal of issues in this era of 24-hour news," Erickson said.

The talk also touched on the changes and debates that UCLA has experienced in the aftermath of the attack.

"One of my first reactions is that it could have happened here," Erickson said.

The issue of mental health particularly was presented as a problem that affects college campuses nationwide.

"When something of this nature happens, it creates a ripple effect across the whole nation," Gong-Guy said.

Gong-Guy also spoke about the importance of simple mental health techniques for the prevention of such events.

"A lot of our efforts are focused on prevention - training students to use stress training techniques so resilience is higher, getting people to sleep better," Gong-Guy said.

Erickson spoke about how the university has tried to come up with a mass communication system to alert students, workers and faculty in the event of such a disaster.

Erickson also said universities have a responsibility to shift focus from students&#39; individual accomplishments to social and community involvement.

"Maybe we need to look more at community involvement (in admissions)," he said, adding that UCLA&#39;s new holistic admissions process was a step in that direction.

The talk, attended by a handful of people, lasted for about an hour. No undergraduate students were in attendance. While the numbers fell short of the organizer&#39;s expectations, a few people saw this lack of attendees as a positive sign.

"I&#39;m really happy that there&#39;s not that many people here" because high attendance would have been a sign of grief and anxiety in the student body, said local resident Hsuan-Shiang Wu.


Original Source: <a href=>The Daily Bruin - May 1, 2007</a>


Eli Rosenberg




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Eli Rosenberg, “Forum looks at current issues,” The April 16 Archive, accessed April 15, 2024,