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 Tuesday, April 10, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


A Reflection on the Virginia Tech tragedy
Ron Stump, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

The April 16 tragedy at Virginia Tech has caused all of us to reflect on what happened and attempt to make meaning of this tragedy.

Some of us may have lost a friend or a family member, or know of a friend or a family member who experienced the trauma of the killings. Some of us may also know very vividly the buildings within which the shootings occurred.

You are in our thoughts, as are all Hokies.

As much impact as this tragedy has had on us, and how we all recoiled in shock and grief, my fear is that this campus and the world outside of the Hokie nation will soon compartmentalize this tragedy and move on once it is out of the news.

At best, some of us will think of policies and ways to prevent such occurrences from happening again, or ways to respond if such an unthinkable tragedy was to happen here. At worst, some of us will do nothing at all.

My aspiration is that we reflect on this ultimate act of violence in the context of other acts of violence that are too common on this campus and in our society.

In Blacksburg, defenseless students and faculty were shot, 32 killed and many wounded because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their only defense was to hide, jump out of windows, block doors, and feign death. The perpetrator had the power to methodically shoot to harm anyone who came into his path.

How often have we seen and/or experienced acts of violence on a person or a group who was likewise powerless and defenseless?

Affirmative Action bake sales, while said to be parodies, are demeaning to the social justice values of our society and campus. They diminish the sponsors, as well as the groups to whom the parody is directed. Such acts are hurtful and undercut the opportunity to responsibly consider equity within our community and within our country.

Campus and national government bodies commit acts of violence when they advocate for the special interests of one group over the common good. Too often today, we see decisions made by those in power that are made on behalf of the personal gain of a special interest rather than on behalf of what is good for our community or society.

Violence, as you can see, comes in acts that kill the spirit and hopes of a person as well as the body. Sexual assaults, homophobic slurs, racist acts, are acts of violence that cannot be explained away by any means.

Today, Virginia Tech is gathering itself. The Hokies will rise from this awful blow. Their spirit, pride, and grit will bring them back and beyond where they were as a community prior to April 16.

As Buffs, let us also rise. Let us join together to rid our campus and our society of all acts of violence. Each of you know what I mean by acts of violence—acts that harm the spirit of a person and the soul of a community.

In solidarity with Virginia Tech, let's raise ourselves to a new level of respect and support of each other that nurtures each of us. As Buffs, we hold this opportunity in our hands. Let's not allow it to slip from our grasp.

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