Like much of the higher ed world (And likely much of the rest of the country), I was transfixed on surrounding TVs and my computer with word that a gunman had been spotted on the campus of Virginia Tech this morning. While we had so much fear the first time such a notice was published, today was no less scary, despite my knowledge and immense respect for their clearly improved emergency notification system.
I remember being in the car with my roommate on the way to Panera Bread in Wickford, RI when we started hearing on the radio about a shooting that occurred on Virginia Tech’s campus. I called my dad to have him turn on the news and update me. Like the religious CNN watcher I know he is, he already knew. And he was sobbing. I’ve only ever seen my dad cry once, and to hear him so overcome with emotion, being so far from home, absolutely broke my heart.
But the best thing about it was, the next call I received was from a friend of mine, reporting the whereabouts of our one friend who had gone to Tech for school. The friend was off campus that day, and thankfully was in no danger. I had been in a quiet state of terror thinking about this friend, but had no way of reaching him. It amazed me that our high school network was so strong that I got a phone call within 30 minutes of the announcement, letting me know that my friend was okay.
I thought about that connection today as I was glued to my computer, trying to find news about the goings-on at VT. Sprinkled among the concerns of my friends about the campus community, were well wishes and notes wishing to catch up from members of my grad school class. We’ve had an amazing and incredibly strong bond from the beginning of our journey together, and I’m heartened to know that we’re still taking care of each other, despite the distance. While I hope to never have to get that call about any of my friends or colleagues, I’m encouraged to know that I have friends and colleagues that will go out of their way to stay connected, to think of each other with the care and concern that we all had for the VT community this morning.