Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

It's been really hard for me to decide if I should say something about the shootings at Virginia Tech. Mostly because the media will inevitably (and already is) inundating the students, professors and administration with stupid questions, and the finger pointing is in full force. However, I suppose that's ultimately why I have decided to say something about the incident.

As a long-time student and teacher (8 years, I realized today) in higher education, a member and lover of the academic community through and through, my biggest response at this point, a few days after, is anger. Anger for the parents who lost their children, the wives who lost husbands, the brothers who lost sisters, all the people who lost their friends. I'm angry that one student was so arrogant that he thought his problems justified the taking of 32 lives.

I walk into classrooms every day for my work and my own education, and the thought of having that safe space destroyed makes me angry. I stand in front of a class of 6 and a class of 22 and a class of 18 four times a week, and I look at their faces, and while I often get really irritated at their laziness or their apathy, just as much of the time, I'm proud of them and see their potential. For someone to take that away makes me angry.

I'm proud of the students and faculty who risked--and lost--their lives trying to protect others. As a teacher, I have to wonder if I would do the same? And quite honestly, I know very few teachers and students who wouldn't do the same. For that, I'm proud.

I'll walk into my classrooms today, and I'll have to decide what to say to them, if anything, about this event. And while I've been sitting the fence about it since Monday, I've decided that I will say something to them. To pretend like it didn't happen, especially on a university campus, feels wrong to me. I'll tell them that they are a part of a very large community that stretches far beyond the boundaries of this university. They are part of the academic community at large. They're a part of the community of our classroom. And, while I might be a hardass most of the time, I enjoy knowing them. They're good people with lots of potential, and sometimes they need to be reminded that they're appreciated.


  1. Hey Andi. Nicely put. This is just a senseless tragedy and the whole thing makes me queasy. As a parent, I like to think that, when I drop my children off in the morning and watch them set foot inside that brick building, they are going to be safe. And for the most part, they are.

    I have a feeling that you would do the same as the professors in Virginia did. You would go to any length to try and protect your students.

  2. This is an excellent piece of writing on the tragedy. I'm sure your short speech/discussion in class will be as eloquent.

  3. Thank you for addressing this, Andi. I was shocked when Rod told me that nobody in his two night classes (he teaches on Mondays and Wednesdays) mentioned this horrific tragedy. I can understand his personal reluctance to talk about it, but I was surprised none of the students brought it up. It's been weighing very heavily on my mind these past three days. I've wanted to blog about it, but I hate to continue to bring my own grief about Rach into the blogosphere. This incident has brought back a lot of painful thoughts and memories -- the biggest is that I can honestly say I know how those parents are feeling. And my heart just breaks for each one. They're in shock right now, and it's only going to get worse in the months to come. I suppose the only good thing to come of all of it is that this maniac took his own life and that the families don't have to re-live and endure the painful experience during trials and the appeal process. Sigh. My heart is so heavy right now.

  4. It's hard to write about, but I'm glad you addressed it, Andi. I felt empty and sad and . . . yeah, angry. Arrogance to take 32 lives - that's not a way I'd thought of it, but I think you're so right. I also liked the way one person said, "We're looking into the face of evil." Yeah. I'd say so. I thought of my own son, an RA for two years who would have definitely stepped forward to try to calm someone threatening a girl in his dorm. And, I thought of Les and how it must have brought back the horrible memories. It's so senseless. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

  5. Good insights and perspective Andi, the whole thing is just horrible.

  6. I think it would be negligent not to address it. I think you are absolutely correct. Until it is addressed and discussed in a safe place students will struggle with moving forward, I think. It will be hard for you but I think you are more than up to the task.

  7. Thanks, Stephanie. We had a pretty good talk about it in my class.

    Soj, thank you. While I don't think the classroom talk was quite as succinctly put, we did have a good discussion.

    Todd, thank ya.

    Les, I did think about you and Rod when I heard. I know it must bring a lot of memories roaring back. I am very thankful that all the families don't have to go through the painful trial/appeals process that you all have endured.

    Thanks, Nancy. I dunno why arrogance came immediately to mind, but I definitely had a "who the hell did he think he was" reaction to the whole situation.

    Thanks, Dale.

    Courtney, surprisingly enough my students--while we had a good discussion--didn't seem terribly disturbed by the whole thing. I don't know if that's an "it could never happen here" reaction or youth or what. But, I think it's very important for them to ponder world events, and this one is certainly something they should be aware of and think about.

  8. Well said Andi. These things always send shockwaves and it was interesting to hear your perspective on it and for addressing a very sensitive subject.


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