Students, leaders remember victims

Vadim Lavrusik

In a moment of silence, interrupted by faint weeping, students paused to reflect on the Virginia Tech tragedy.

More than a hundred students, joined by campus leaders, gathered on Thursday morning behind Coffman Union to pay tribute to victims and families grieving for the Virginia Tech massacre.

University leaders gave speeches, offering their support for those at Virginia Tech, while students listened and signed large banners that read, “Today We Are All Hokies,” a reference to Virginia Tech’s nickname.

Students wrote supportive comments such as, “Our hearts are with yours, VT. Peace to you.”

The banner will be sent to Virginia Tech to show support from University students, said Max Page, the Minnesota Student Association president, who spoke at the vigil.

Jerry Rinehart, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, said yesterday’s bomb threat showed how much everyone in higher education has in common.

“We’re open communities, vulnerable to violence,” Rinehart said.

He said such events remind people we are all human, and now is a time for students to show support for one another and especially for those impacted by the shootings.

“Today we send them our thoughts and our support as they heal,” he said. “Go Hokies, go Gophers.” Rinehart also asked students to wear maroon and orange, Virginia Tech’s school colors, Friday.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness, reflecting on the week’s events, said they are a reminder of the necessity for students and faculty to be alert.

“The events remind us of what is at risk on our campus, and that we can’t be at all complacent,” he said.

Although most students who came to show their support weren’t linked to anyone at Virginia Tech, some students were impacted indirectly.

First-year student Kait Dougherty couldn’t hold back her tears.

Dougherty’s brother graduated from Virginia Tech, and her sister attended the school for two years before transferring.

Although everyone she knows at Virginia Tech is all right, friends of hers lost their friends in the shooting, she said.

“I still can’t believe it,” she said. “My heart goes out to all of them.”

Dougherty who is from Hershey, Pa., said she has been disappointed because people keep pointing fingers, trying to blame someone for not preventing the incident.

“There’s nothing that can be done anymore,” she said. “We just need to come together to support one another.”

Kelly Costello, mechanical engineering junior, said one of her neighbors is a student at Virginia Tech, and so she came out to offer her support.

Her neighbor is OK, but it’s still hard to imagine what the students there must be going through, she said.

Costello felt uneasy on campus after yesterday’s bomb threat. She was in Appleby Hall when it was evacuated.

“It was upsetting, I left campus right away. I couldn’t handle it,” she said.

What upset her most was that students weren’t notified about the bomb threat quicker, after everything that happened in Virginia, she said.

She said when she was evacuated her professor didn’t tell her why, and she didn’t get an e-mail in her inbox until after 4 p.m.