Massacre at V.T. affects colleges across nation


Massacre at V.T. affects colleges across nation


<b>As Tulane officials rethink security policies, some Tulane students express personal grief over Monday&#39;s events
By:</b> <a href="">Marta Dehmlow</a>
<b>Posted:</b> 4/20/07

Students at Virginia Tech and all over the nation will remember April 16 as a day that shattered the security of college campuses everywhere.

"How do you have openness and accessibility and make sure the campus is as safe as possible?" Tulane University president Scott Cowen asked in an April 18 interview with the Hullabaloo. "Campuses are sacred ground."

This "sacred ground" was desecrated, however, when Cho Seung-Hui, a 22-year-old senior at Virginia Tech, shot and killed 32 students and injured 26 more before turning his gun on himself.

The largest school shooting in history has torn apart the Virginia Tech college community in Blacksburg, Va., leaving college students nationwide doubtful about the security of their own institutions.

"It can happen anywhere," senior neuroscience major Jen Velarde said. "Crazy people are out there. It can happen so easily; there&#39;s such a fine line. As much as you secure a building, if a student is going to do this, it can happen."

And it has happened a number of times before, university officials said.

"This is not really an isolated incident," Tulane University Police Department director Ken Dupaquier said, citing past shootings on college campuses. "People think that it hasn&#39;t happened before or in a long time, but it has."

Nationwide, college students empathizing with their Virginia Tech counterparts have demonstrated their solidarity. Jonathan Horner, a senior microbiology major who has several close friends at Virginia Tech, showed support for the affected school by changing his facebook picture to one saying "Today we are all Hokies," referring to Virginia Tech&#39;s mascot. He, like many other college students, also joined a facebook group memorializing the victims.

"I also called and messaged all my friends," he said. "I told them I&#39;m praying for them and their school."

Other students were more immediately affected by the massacre at Virginia Tech.

Maura Bowlin, a sophomore English major, spent her freshman year at Virginia Tech before transferring to Tulane in the fall of 2006.

"It&#39;s eerie to think I&#39;ve walked the halls of [Ambler-Johnston Residence Hall and Norris Hall]," Bowlin said about the sites of the two shootings.

Although she has many friends at the school, Bowlin said she has not quite felt the full effect of the situation.

"It hasn&#39;t really sunk in. We talk about it in every single class, which I wish we didn&#39;t," Bowlin said.

Bowlin explained that Cho was not a typical Virginia Tech student. As a senior, the gunman lived on campus, "which almost no one does after freshman year. So that was weird."

She also had a friend who was supposed to be in one of the classrooms in Norris Hall.

"She slept through the class," Bowlin said. "I knew a few people who just didn&#39;t go to class because they had a feeling."

Kerry Kraft, a sophomore communication major, spent Fall 2005 at Virginia Tech, where one-quarter of her high school class attends.

"I was distraught when I tuned on the TV. I spent all day on the phone or in front of [it]," Kraft said.

She knows a number of students at Virginia Tech, and she was very concerned, Kraft said.

"I was lucky," Kraft said. "Everyone I know was all right, but they were all affected directly or indirectly. I was lucky not to be directly affected."

The events have also caused Tulane&#39;s administration and campus police force to reiterate their security measures and emergency preparedness plan.

"All of our public safety officers are trained as police officers at the academy, like NOPD. Therefore they have at least been prepared," Cowen said.

Prior to the Virginia Tech massacre and Hurricane Katrina, a decision was made to update the emergency response system.

"We will have six different phone numbers for each student, plus e-mails will get blasted by information [in the event of an emergency]", Cowen said. The new system will also include the ability to text message students&#39; cell phones.

Dupaquier believes that with Tulane&#39;s current protocol, an event such as this one would have been avoided.

"Our protocol for dealing with students with similar traits to [Cho&#39;s] is that we would have liked to intervene," Dupaquier said. "We have a mechanism in place between Public Safety, Student Affairs, the Educational Resource Center, the student health center and the deans that would catch this, hopefully."

Tulane, like many other colleges, is also reassessing current systems. A task force is being created headed by Vice President Anne Banos. It will involve different arms of the university and several student leaders to help ensure that such a horrific event does not happen at Tulane.

"We will see what changes, if any, need to be made in our protocol," Dupaquier said. "The president expects an answer in a timely manner. Not in a matter of months, but Cowen expects recommendations in a few weeks."

While the administration and public safety department are concerned first and foremost with the well-being of Tulane students, they extend their sympathies to the Virginia Tech community.

"Obviously, we are devastated for those that were killed, and their friends and family," Cowen said. "We are not strangers to tragedy, and we can identify. We will do whatever we can to help."

Cowen said the school has offered counseling and Student Affairs personnel to offer help as students, staff and faculty at Virginia Tech cope with the tragedy.


Original Source: <a href=>The Hullabaloo - April 20, 2007</a>


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Marta Dehmlow, “Massacre at V.T. affects colleges across nation,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 16, 2024,