April 16, 2007
To the University Community:
The shootings this morning at Virginia Tech have turned a seemingly normal day into one filled with grief and disbelief. For U.Va., especially on this day, Virginia Tech is family. Many of us have parents, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, and friends who study, teach, or work in Blacksburg. Many of us are Tech alumni.
Our hearts are with Virginia Tech and its many families today, and they will be so long into the future as we remember this awful day. Our thoughts and prayers belong to those who must deal tonight and in future days with a grief that must seem almost more than mind and spirit can bear.
Together, we extend our sympathy, concern, and fellow feeling for lives destroyed and bodies broken today and for families and classmates and faculty members who must go on despite these losses.
In the course of this day, we have offered support and assistance as
Virginia Tech may need them from us. This offer includes providing
psychological support services, other medical assistance, and any other support that may be useful to Virginia Tech.
We will stay in close touch with President Steger and those who must now work with him to restore the Tech community. Members of our own community will be affected directly and indirectly by the senselessness and magnitude of what has happened, perhaps
more so in coming days as victims' names and attachments become known. We look forward to serving those persons as well.
However near to or far from Virginia Tech and its people each of us may be in kinship or other attachments, today's events take enormous emotional tolls, and not all of these costs are obvious immediately.
Faculty members and staff members know this from prior experience. They want to help. They are themselves as mindful of human loss and grief-struck as students and their families are. Their common commitment to the University is first and foremost to our students.
Some additional information for students and their families:
Few deal easily with shock and grief in isolation. Talk together.
Students, call home. Parents, call your daughters and your sons. Listen
and talk to one another, and in that contact seek the beginnings of solace and comfort.
Especially in times of crisis, students benefit when they make use of the
supportive services that are available. The number for Counseling and
Psychological Services is 924-5556. After hours, call 972-7004. The
professionals can help, and they want to help. If you want to talk with one
of them, call.
Students living in residence halls have access to members of the Resident Staff. Generally, students know who and where these staff members are, but if confusion exists, the Dean of Students and her assistants are available around the clock.
The numbers are 924-7133 during business hours. After hours, call 979-6522 and enter your phone number at the beep.
We will post additional information as it becomes available on the
University's homepage. Students, parents, and others may want to seek out a link that will go up overnight or early tomorrow, and that will be kept up to date.
At 2 p.m. tomorrow in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech will hold its convocation. Along with student leaders and members of our Board of Visitors, I will attend to express our common respect and concern.
Also at 2 p.m., the Chapel bells here on the Grounds will toll for five minutes. I urge all within the sound of the bells to pause, reflect, and each in her or his own way express sorrow for the losses that so many families are now discovering.
Again, at 7 p.m. tomorrow night, the Chapel bells will toll for five minutes
as students, faculty members and staff, and I gather in the McIntire
Amphitheatre in a candlelight vigil to honor the memories and lives of
those killed and injured this morning and to express our support for our
counterparts at Virginia Tech, for their families, and for their friends.
Caleb Euhus, a student from Lynchburg, wrote a poem today entitled "Tech Wind." He sent a copy this afternoon, and he agreed to my sharing its argument and some words from it with you.
He invokes today's fierce winds to combat and assuage the horror and anger that all thoughtful women and men must feel about today's catastrophe in Blacksburg. Echoing sentiments as old as Lamentations, Mr. Euhus calls on nature itself -- the very wind -- to share this grief. The poem ends with the lines "Make haughty grass bow down its stalk
And mourn for all those killed." Mr. Euhus speaks for all of us.