I am sure everyone is aware by now that last week, the worst campus shooting in the history of the United States occurred at Virginia Tech.
Throughout this past week, I have listened to and watched reports of the shooting. I am beside myself in both anger and sadness for the events that took place.
Cho Seung-Hui fired shots into a dorm hall and proceeded into an engineering building two hours later. In his rampage, he killed 32 people and then killed himself. There are still more in the hospital, some in serious conditions from gunshot wounds.
This killer not only went into classrooms and dorm rooms and flat-out opened fire, but he chain-locked the front doors so people could not escape. Students were jumping out of windows to get away, some seriously injuring themselves just for the chance to live.
After listening to interviews with students who witnessed this horrific event, I have to admit that I was in tears over what happened.
Erin Sheehan, a student and witness, told CNN about her experience.
“He just stepped within five feet of the door and just started firing . He seemed thorough about it – (shooting) almost everyone down – I pretended to be dead.”
Another student was in class when the gunman walked in, shot the professor and continued to fire rounds around the room. After Cho left, students crawled to the door and held it shut with their feet in case the gunman returned. This was wise thinking, as he did return but could not get through the door.
This could have been any one of us in those classrooms. In fact, I was in class when I found out about it from my laptop. Sitting there, in a classroom, I heard about other students who were sitting in their classrooms just as I was, students who would never get the chance to walk back out alive.
This could have been any campus. This could have been UAA.
Something that truly disturbs me in the aftermath of this tragedy is the concern some have been raising that they are soon going to face retaliation. Cho was from South Korea. Based on actions that Americans have taken within the last few years, some fear retaliation from this incident.
I’m sorry, but if a group of people hijack American planes, fly them into U.S. buildings, kill thousands of innocent people, and do it all in the name of terrorism, then yes – you can look forward to retaliation.
If someone who happens to be of an ethnic background, who should have been institutionalized years ago, walks into a school building and kills 32 peers, it is a different situation. We are all grieving for the loss that Virginia Tech has experienced. Seeking retaliation will solve nothing.
Another issue I feel people need to reconsider is that of school security. Many have expressed that they feel university officials did not respond adequately to the shootings. According to a poll conducted by The Northern Light, one-third of responders think officials did not respond at all as they should have.
You can have a crisis plan completely planned out. You could even practice this crisis plan 100 times. And while this is beneficial to do no matter your business, nothing can completely prepare you for a crazed gunman patrolling your campus.
We all agree that the campus should have been locked down the minute the first shots were fired. We all agree that everyone should have gotten an informative e-mail about the events that had happened that morning.
But they didn’t.
These officials have 33 people’s blood on their hands. They will remember this day for the rest of their lives. I guarantee they know the problems that happened and will make as sure as they can that it does not happen again. We cannot ask for more; they cannot change what happened.
How suddenly someone’s life can change. How quickly someone’s life can end. In a matter of two hours, more than 30 people died in this tragic incident. It makes you think about what truly is, and should be, important in life.