Tuesday, April 17, 2007
'Tremendous sense of shock'
As I talk to students, faculty, staff, and also a lot of alumni, there is a tremendous sense of shock that this could have happened to Virginia Tech.

I am sure that anyone would say that no matter where something like this happened, but it seems even more so here in Blacksburg. I graduated from VT almost a decade ago but still keep in contact with many friends and professors and I admit it, I still keep up with the news on campus as much as someone 10 years out of school and in D.C. can.

Alumni and students take great pride in and are fiercely loyal to their school (we have to spend the rest of our lives explaining what a Hokie is -- which can be done in a separate setting!) But Tech has always been such a relatively calm and quiet place.

There's usually some small controversy or talk of the campus/town, but in the grand scheme of things, nothing is that big of a deal. In recent days, there were of course the bomb threats that were serious stories but in general, the hot topics on campus have been:
  • The men's basketball team had a stellar season, (a complete rarity) making it to the second round of March Madness
  • The missing Hokie Bird statues throughout campus (artwork in the style of the party animals or pandas in D.C. or the cows in Chicago) which were apparently taken as a prank by students from another university
  • "Girls Gone Wild" was scheduled to be in town this week to tape a segment, and there was a growing movement organizing a boycott. University officials were doing everything they could to discourage any student's participation.

Of course, none of that matters anymore, but I just say all that to reiterate that this was the last thing that students expected to happen on campus in this small college town.

From everyone on campus I've been talking to, I don't think the enormity of it all has really sunk in. There is definitely a profound sense of shock in absolutely everyone I've talked to that probably won't go away anytime soon.

-- By Becky Brittain, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 6:46 AM ET
  14 Comments
When I heard the name Blacksburg VA the first thing that popped into my head was an old news segment, I think it was 60 minutes, regarding the Blacksburg Electronic Village and how proud these people were to be in the forefront of technology. However, with this recent tragedy that triumph will forever be pushed into the background. Thanks to CNN for the fantastic and tasteful coverage of this tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren Mi : 8:35 AM ET
I am disturbed about the media's role, including CNN, in immediately trying to discover or create someone else to blame for this shooting. The only person to blame for this shooting, and the deaths that resulted, is the shooter. The local police, the campus police, investigators working on the first shooting in the dorm: none of them could have known that this very disturbed man was planning to lock himself and his victims in an engineering building and start shooting.

Let all of us, especially the anchors and reporters in the 24 hour news media, stop looking for someone else to blame. Easy for me to say, I realize, as I didn't lose friends or family in this tragedy. But we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of looking for a reason where there may not be one. Then, failing to find a sufficient reason, we lash out at whomever else was nearby.

One of the students was quoted as saying that response time by the university was too slow, that students were kept in the dark too long, and they didn't know what was going on. He remarked that "someone's head was going to roll on this one." That's exactly the kind of ambulance chasing attitude that serves no purpose whatsoever. The police did not fail, the campus administration did not fail, the students and faculty who were shot did not fail.

A young man was deeply disturbed and sought to end his life while taking apparent revenge on those he held responsible for his problems. The only person responsible for this shooting is the man who pulled the trigger. Let us allow the families, friends, and colleagues of the dead to grieve in peace, without the added burden of being asked to lash out at others in order to lay blame.
Posted By Anonymous Ron Vanderveer, Melbourne, Florida : 8:48 AM ET
I watched the CNN coverage on this into late last night in disblief that this could happen. Today, I woke with the realization that no one is safe...anywhere...at any time. God bless the families and friends of the victims and the rest of the student body. I hope they find a way to heal.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 9:14 AM ET
I have a feeling that "school spirit" and tradition didn't rank very high on the shooter's list of values. The fact of the matter is that this world is a crazy place with a lot of lunatics roaming freely. This type of thing can and will happen anywhere, at anytime and to anybody. We can't possibly contain every individual from acting out the absurd thoughts that run through their minds'. We need to start preparing for these events so we're ready for the next one; because unfortunately, this is probably not the last time something like this will happen.
Posted By Anonymous Todd, Malvern PA : 9:36 AM ET
It is a shame that the media wants to blame Virginia Tech for this tragedy. The first shooting took place on the other side of campus. If I were a student, even if a warning had gone out I would still have attended a class on the other side of campus not believing that a mad man was going to go to another building and shoot anything and anyone.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Houston Tx. : 11:05 AM ET
It is a shame that the media wants to blame Virginia Tech for this tragedy. The first shooting took place on the other side of campus. If I were a student, even if a warning had gone out I would still have attended a class on the other side of campus not believing that a mad man was going to go to another building and shoot anything and anyone.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Houston Tx. : 11:06 AM ET
I am a college student at a school much smaller than VT. Trying to lock down a place the size of VT because of a supposed domestic murder makes no sense. There was no reason for the police or the VT president to think of the possibility for another shooting. I would also like to know what exactly people think should have been done to lock down the campus and inform each student coming and going between class, work, or home. I feel that those in charge did what they thought was best at the time. It is too easy for us to say now that they made a horrible mistake. I support their decisions. I feel the deepest sorrow for those whose lives were lost and wish that this could have been prevented, but I don't see how it could have been done with the information available between the two incidents.
Posted By Anonymous megan lawrence, ks : 11:17 AM ET
Its heinous. No question. What I wish to know is, if, as I have heard repeatedly, Virginia Tech is a safe, prestigious, student based institution, and if Blacksberg is such a wonderful, tight nit community, where things like this dont happen, why wasnt the shooting murders of the first two students at AJ at 7;15am, (one of those students an RA & triple major!) heinous enough, shocking enough, disturbing enough in its own right, to put the school on lockdown immediately, even for a few hours whether or not they had the shooter in custody? (which as authorities admit themselves THEY DID NOT). What message is the VA Tech administration sending to their students about the value of human life, regardless of whether they felt they had the situation in hand, if, in their infinite wisdom, the MURDER of two of their students did not justify, (even out of RESPECT! for those students), the school being locked down immediately even for a short time? Are we really so numbed to gun violence that the taking of two young lives, never mind 30, can be dealt with in such a casual, "run of the mill" way by what is supposed to be an institute of HIGHER LEARNING? This situation has shaken me to the very core!
Posted By Anonymous Tracey, NY, NY : 12:02 PM ET
I'm concerned about the two bomb threats that occurred this month before the shootings took place. Was it a stupid college prank or was it really a serious threat of what to come? Was the shooter involved with the bomb threats or is it someone else doing it?
Posted By Anonymous Missy, Los Angeles, CA : 12:10 PM ET
Becky: I agree that the extent of this tragedy has not really sunk in yet. Not only for those on the campus, but also for those of us who are following this story. I believe the shock of it all will soon pass and then more questions will be raised which I hope lead to some clearer answers. Thanks for blogging. It's obvious through your comments, that VT holds a special part in your heart and I would also, some day, appreciate knowing what a Hokie is....
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 12:28 PM ET
My heart and prayers go out to all whom are effected by this and to the famlies and friends who are waiting still to hear news as a parent to a daughter going to a college in Virgina Beach area where there are several colleges in the area and I did not where Virginia Tech was located at the time I recieved the news by friends and family calling me asking where in Virginia was chrissy going to school, I was in tears and in fear when I couldn't reach my daughter for that few hours I know what friends and family were feeling and continue to go through so again our prayers are with you
Posted By Anonymous Cindy Scarber , Dallas Tx. : 12:38 PM ET
The media seems determined to find organizational failures in every tragedy. Did the school adminstration make the right choices after the first shooting? In retrospect, maybe not. But we should remember that they did not have the luxury of retrospect. Most of us have no idea what "locking down" a university entails or what other facts came into play. If there were mistakes, there is a future time to examine and learn from them. For now, we should remember that these adminstrators are grieving and show some respect and compassion instead of blame. I pray most of us are never faced with the kind of choices or tragedy that these officials have endured.
Posted By Anonymous Rebekah Abel Lamar, Decatur, GA : 1:01 PM ET
Yesterday I watched CNN as my Alma Mater was center stage not for it's academic achievements or it's athletic prowess but because another mad man was terrorizing a school.
The drill field and the campus that in my happy memories were once inviolate became as scene of police, panic and pandemonium.
Professors that I had known were massacred and students that held the promise of our future were slain in a senseless rampage.
In this Appalachian spring of sorrow as I watch far from the shadow of the Shenandoah and the beauty of the Blue Ridge my heart and soul cry out this can not be so. Our community is grieving an immeasurable loss.
Mad man are ever where or so it seems, what perplexes me most is how could the lessons of 9-11 and Columbine be forgotten? In these times of mass murder where mad men are not content with blowing up just one tower ever seeking higher body counts to express their angst why was the chance taken with a "person of interest". No President Steger you don't have "hours to reflect on it" you have seconds to act, to embrace caution temper disaster with the wisdom of experience.
Posted By Anonymous EllenMarie Maier Rockwell : 4:01 PM ET
Now that we are getting information about Cho Seung-Hui and who he was as a person it is becoming evident that he was a person who clearly chose his own path to destruction. Cho wanted to blame everybody else in the world thinking all his problems where someone else’s fault, not his own (“You backed me into a corner and gave me no other choice”). He believed that his own brand of suffering was worse than everyone else, that no one else felt pain except him. He chose isolation over inclusion; he walled himself off from people and then acted in self pity that no one cared about him (which was not true). Cho chose to bury himself in hatred and resentment and tried not to find understanding and value in others. He believed that he was the victim and not the bully and therefore rationalized his extreme, selfish rampage as not his doing but ours. In the end he was a selfish coward who chose to destroy himself and those around him instead of giving life and people a chance.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families.
Posted By Anonymous Chris Las Vegas, NV. : 1:39 PM ET
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