Virginia Tech, our thoughts are with you

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Virginia Tech, our thoughts are with you

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Editorial
Posted: 4/17/07

Horrified silence saturated campuses across the country yesterday, as the death toll at Virginia Tech climbed to at least 32 fellow students. The deadliest mass shooting in United States history can be described only as a true tragedy.

To begin, as members of the Duke community we express our sincerest condolences to families and friends of the deceased and wounded and to the entire Virginia Tech campus. Our hearts go out to all of those in the Virginia Tech community and all of the students here at Duke who have been touched by this shocking disaster in one way or another.

A tragedy like this makes us pause to reflect upon our own mortality. Days like yesterday-filled with images of bloodied young bodies, terrified faces and drawn guns-bring violence and death close to home. As young men and women now in college, we can only hope (although likely and sadly in vain) to never see a day like this past Monday again.

And during such times, there is a very human urge to point fingers-to place blame on administrators for not responding effectively or efficiently. But scenarios like those that played out yesterday are extremely hard to prepare for. Hindsight is 20/20, and we cannot judge the Virginia Tech administrators with the knowledge we now have. We trust they had students' best interests in mind and do so still as they seek to recover from the shock and horror of a day nobody can ever really anticipate.

Monday's tragedy does, however, provide an opportunity for Duke's administrators to examine their own emergency response procedures. We depend on Duke administrators to keep us informed when urgent situations arise. Although mass e-mail lists serve great informative purposes, a faster mass communication system must be devised to alert students in times of emergency. Because many students come from differing parts of the country, Duke must also devise a plan to inform families quickly or to make themselves available for inquiries in situations of mass chaos.

As members of a media publication, in the face of this tragedy we were dismayed to find that some media outlets displayed an almost-salacious interest in this story. The Washington Post ran an article titled "Virginia Tech's Reputation Had Recently Been Soaring," which inappropriately dehumanized the catastrophe as something that could have an effect on image and ranking rather than something that did have a profound effect on human lives. Similarly, a reporter at a press conference asked what sort of effect this event will have on the school's admissions. Such questions were both inappropriate and unanswerable. Subjects like Virginia Tech's reputation can be addressed during another, more appropriate period.

Although yesterday's tragedy is in no way comparable to the Duke lacrosse case, the response of some reporters to the Virginia Tech shooting is yet another example of a fact we as Duke students know all too well-how shallow the media can be. The media must remember there is a human element to every event, particularly this tragic event, and they should not rush superficial sensationalism nor dehumanize questions of status.

Even though the media has immense power in portraying events and situations, we must remember that a period of coverage does not characterize or define a school in its entirety. No matter how the media portrays a singular event, our schools are not defined by one moment. They are defined by their people, their resolve and their ability to overcome.

Virginia Tech, Duke's thoughts are with you.

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Original Source: <a href=http://media.www.dukechronicle.com/media/storage/paper884/news/2007/04/17/Editorial/Virginia.Tech.Our.Thoughts.Are.With.You-2846256.shtml> Duke Chronicle - April 17, 2007</a>

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Editorial Staff

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2007-06-24

Contributor

Sara Hood

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David Graham <david.graham@duke.edu>

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eng

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Editorial Staff, "Virginia Tech, our thoughts are with you," in The April 16 Archive, Item #600, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/600 (accessed October 1, 2014).