The senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech

by Beacon Staff • April 18, 2007

The shooting massacre in Virginia that left over 30 dead.

Our View:

We must be able to feel safe on our campuses.,There are those moments that, if only for a brief period, trivialize all else. The issues that were important the day before are temporarily made insignificant. The things that divided us are frivolous in the face of this new event, whose tragedy outlines what we all have in common.

On Monday, more than 30 people were killed and at least 15 injured in a brutal mass killing at Virginia Tech. By now, we all know the details: the killer was a deeply disturbed 23-year-old English major who wrote violent fiction in his classes and alienated those around him.

It is also the worst shooting rampage in United States history.

We have also seen the images of heavily armed SWAT teams racing to the scene and pulling terrified students out of windows. We can picture the locked classrooms of huddled, crying students as they listened to the cracking of gunshots grow louder. We know a number of students were injured jumping from fourth-floor dormitory windows in a desperate act disturbingly reminiscent of 9/11.

And in the days that followed, we saw the candlelight vigils at campuses around the country and the mourning faces of students who had no personal connection to the tragedy.

Completely faded from memory is the story from last week about the colleges and universities angry at the perceived bias of the U.S. News and World Report's annual college rankings. Gone are any of the petty arguments and rivalries between schools.

Now we are all just students.

College dorms are most students' first exposure to a world outside their parents' houses. It is a scary enough experience without the threat of physical violence-a threat that became a lot more real as the news unfolded Monday. If there is one place a student must be able to feel safe, it is on campus, their home away from home.

Events like the Virginia Tech shooting create a chilling ripple effect that extends far beyond the confines of that university. Safety on campus is no longer a platitude to be heralded on open house visits for worrying parents. It is something that must be guaranteed in a tangible way, both in college policies and in Washington, where we hope this event sparks a new debate about gun laws.

As seen by the vigils around the country, these tragedies create a ripple effect not only of fear but of compassion and solidarity with the victims and their families. Our generation is criticized for its apathy and lack of perspective. But throughout the country, we have shown that we are capable of caring, that we know evil when we see it and we know what's important.

We at The Beacon and at Emerson College extend our condolences to those directly affected by the Virginia Tech massacre.

The sentiment is the same for those on campuses all around the country who now feel afraid at the one place they never should.