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University of South Carolina grieves

  • Story Highlights
  • University to hold ceremony honoring the six USC students
  • Sorority to have ministers and other counselors available
  • Group urges members to make sure families know they're OK
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By Brandon Gates
Special to CNN
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CNNU campus correspondent Brandon Gates is a junior at University of South Carolina. CNNU is a feature that provides student perspectives on news and trends from colleges across the United States. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of CNN, its affiliates or the schools where the campus correspondents are based.

art.trideltahouse.jpg

Some of the students killed were affiliated with the Delta Delta Delta sorority, whose house is pictured above.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) -- At the University of South Carolina, the campus is quiet, but students were still heading to their classes after six students were killed in a beach house fire during the weekend.

The school is planning a short ceremony Monday evening to honor the six students who were killed Sunday morning in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.

A seventh person killed is believed to be a student at Clemson University. Their identities had not yet been released Monday afternoon.

The USC students were affiliated with the Delta Delta Delta sorority and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

"The fraternities are praying for them and their families for the loss. It's something we're all affected by," Jay Laura, student president of the USC chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

In a later news conference, Laura said the outpouring of condolences was a testament to the character of the fraternity brothers who died. He also said he was proud of the way the university was coming together to support each other.

Lauren Hodge, the chapter president of Delta Delta Delta, said the sorority would have ministers and counselors at the sorority house to help USC students.

"We're trying to everything we can right now to help people cope," she said.

"We've spent a lot of time (counseling) with the students from the sorority and fraternity," said Dennis A. Pruitt, the vice president for student affairs. "We encourage any student who is just learning of the situation and is a member of Tri-Delta or SAE to contact their parents and let them know they're OK."

The school decided against canceling classed on Monday.

"Going back to normal, everyday activities may be the best way for some to mourn and grieve," Pruitt said.

A weekly concert that is typically a well-attended event failed to bring out students on Monday. Most students appeared to be spending time in their dorm rooms where counseling was offered.

"I feel shocked that something like that could happen here. You always see stuff like that happening at other schools, but you never it can happen to your school," said Artifa Ricks, a sophomore majoring in broadcasting.

Six other University of South Carolina students were treated for injuries at a local hospital and released, the school said. The university is providing counseling and assistance to students who have requested it.

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"When any one member of our family is lost, every one of us is diminished. I'm profoundly saddened, as are all members of Gamecock Nation, by these tragic deaths," said Dr. Andrew Sorensen, the university president.

The students were on a weekend getaway at Ocean Isle Beach, a popular resort destination along the southern coast of North Carolina. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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