A somber solidarity

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A somber solidarity

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Lindsey Wagner, Cavalier Daily Life Editor

University students dug through their closets to find anything maroon and orange -- two colors all Hoos had previously tried to avoid -- to demonstrate their support of Virginia Tech at the vigil held last night.

As candlelight slowly spread around the Amphitheater and flags from both universities were displayed, President John Casteen, III began his address to an overwhelmingly maroon and orange audience.

"Tonight we have come together to talk, to meditate on, to mourn the deaths of Virginia Tech students and faculty members," Casteen said to an eerily silent crowd.

Yesterday afternoon, Casteen attended a convocation held at Virginia Tech, later remarking that the somber atmosphere among students there was still "assertive of life."

"Today was for them -- tonight is also for them, but tonight is for you, too," Casteen said, addressing the many University students who suffered losses Monday.

Four of the 33 deaths hit especially close to home here at the University. Liviu Librescu, a professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech, was the father of a fourth-year University student. According to Casteen, Librescu's daughter wanted the community to think of her father "not as a part of the general description of the tragedy, but as a person dedicated" to his work.

Kevin Granata was an engineering professor at the University until 2003, when he began teaching in Tech's Engineering Science and Mechanics department. While at the University, Casteen said Granata also worked in the Kluge Children's Research Center studying human gaits in order to design therapy for children with cerebral palsy.

Second-year Nursing student Randa Samaha lost her sister, Reema Samaha, a freshman at Tech.

First-year College student Adrienne Fadoul also lost her first cousin Monday.

"What, then, shall we do?" Casteen asked, quoting the Gospel of St. Luke.

Regarding practical measures to protect the University, Casteen assured students that all current procedures were under review. He noted that other forms of instantaneous notice systems, such as text messaging, are being explored in addition to e-mail alerts.

Casteen also advised students to report any suspicious activities or persons.

"Grounds is a sanctuary for students and faculty ... a sanctuary remarkably fragile -- we know all of the boundaries, and they are all permeable," he said.

Emphasizing the close community of the University, Casteen urged students to "stay in Charlottesville and be close to friends. Reach out to one another."

Casteen also focused on more abstract lessons that Monday's events taught the world of higher education.

Ultimately, we need to "train [our] hearts to change the world with the intent to [make such events] that fracture higher education rare, rarer, rarest," Casteen said.

He recalled looking out at a gathering of Virginia Tech students yesterday afternoon on their football field, a community that "refused to be broken completely by loss," realizing that the hardest thing to reconcile was the "finality of violent, irrational death in a community of young, vibrant people ... consolation is hard to offer in that situation."

When Casteen ended his address, the Amphitheater was filled with the tangible silence of the hundreds of students in attendance. Student Council provided scrolls and posters for University students to sign, which will be sent to Virginia Tech later this week.

Once students began to gather around the banners, a quiet murmur replaced the silence.

"I thought it was great to be able to come together and think about and remember it the way that we could," third-year College student D.J. Ward said. "To sit in unison and solidarity is really all we can do."

Many students also noted the setting aside of the traditional rivalry between the two universities.

"We're all one community," third-year Commerce student Brian Edwards said. "What they go through is what we go through. It could easily have been us. I hope anything they need from us we can give to them."

Third-year College student Nina Cohen added that she thought Virginia Tech would do the same for the University "in a second."

Other students said they felt like the vigil could have been more meaningful. Second-year College students Mary Ford and Pavit Gill said they expected more from Casteen. Second-year College student Casey Furr added that he believed the vigil was "anti-climatic."

Second-year College student Nadine Natour said she was glad the University was showing its support, but she wished there could have been a more emotional element, such as something more along the lines of the poem read by Nikki Giovanni at Virginia Tech's convocation.

On the whole, though, students were satisfied with the turnout and the showing of solidarity.

"I just really appreciate that we did this, for us and for them," first-year College student Vetan Kapoor said. "It meant a lot."

The final words of Casteen's address seemed to emphasize the thoughts of all those who attended: "Let us remember the 33 human lives. Let us pray for the lives that have changed forever ... and also for those who loved them, and let us share their grief for the future as they seek solace in life."

- Shea Connelly, Stephanie Kassab and Katt Henry contributed to this article.

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.cavalierdaily.com/CVArticle.asp?ID=30191&pid=1583> The Cavalier Daily - April 18, 2007</a>

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Lindsey Wagner

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The Cavalier Daily

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2007-07-31

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Sara Hood

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Meggie Bonner <meggiebonner@gmail.com>

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eng

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Lindsey Wagner, "A somber solidarity," in The April 16 Archive, Item #875, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/875 (accessed October 22, 2014).