Campus community reacts to massacre

On Tuesday, staff and students reflected on the Virginia Tech shooting.

by Elizabeth Cook

The School of Nursing held a moment of silence Tuesday to remember the 33 people killed Monday after a student opened fire at Virginia Tech before taking his own life.

Students, staff and faculty also had the option of meeting in Weaver-Densford Hall to join “hearts, hands and energy,” said Carolyn Garcia, an assistant professor.

After Monday’s massacre, many spent Tuesday considering the loss families are experiencing, along with reacting to the events. The tragedy also brought up questions about how the University would handle a similar situation.

Even though a large-scale shooting has never happened here, the University has an emergency plan in place, said University police chief Greg Hestness.

University police are trained on different “active-shooter” techniques and how to use high-powered weapons, he said.

E-mails would also be sent to inform students, Hestness said, and depending on the situation, an automated phone system could also be used.

Many of the “high-traffic” buildings on campus also have tone-alert radios, which would inform students on what they should do in an emergency, with the goal of reaching as many people as possible.

“Even doing all these things, you might miss someone,” Hestness said.

Police would be able to monitor the campus using the 871 surveillance cameras that are mostly on the Minneapolis campus, he said. The 101 electric access buildings on campus could also be immediately put into lockdown.

These ideas all sound good to Nicole Fritter, a first-year student, but she said if there were a similar situation, there isn’t much police would be able to do.

“I think if someone wanted to (hurt others) they’re going to find a way, regardless of how good the system is,” she said.

Edward Taylor, a professor of social work, said the University needs a better plan to inform students.

Students could be confused if they weren’t informed not to use their cell phones, he said, as a way to free up the lines for emergency personal.

Paula Nivala, a communications senior, said the entire incident made her think about the “loner” students on campus.

Her professor in a morning French department class sparked her curiosity after mentioning that people are often left out, especially when students break into groups to work together.

“People tend to always sit with the people they know,” she said.

But if students tried to be more inclusive, the “loners” wouldn’t feel as left out, Nivala said.

“Don’t stray away from people just because they’re different or shy,” she said.

Feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment could also be factors why someone would kill others, Taylor said, “when you keep thinking about it and obsessing about getting even.”

Sociopaths, those who “fail to develop a moral compass,” also make up a small percentage of school shooters, Taylor said.

If any students hear anyone talk about revenge and violence, they are encouraged to immediately call police.

“We need to be more on our guard,” Taylor said.

Taylor also stressed that even though the Virginia shooting was devastating and frightening, students should remember that colleges are still safe.

“You are safer at public school and colleges than most locations,” he said.