In response to the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech a week ago, PLU student leaders organized a Day of Solidarity last Wednesday to let the PLU community their express grief and support.
As the events began to unfold last Monday and the death toll continued to rise, student leaders decided to organize a candlelight vigil on Red Square to mourn and honor the victims. Another vigil on Tuesday evening and the Day of Solidarity on Wednesday followed.
“I was in the ASPLU office on Monday and heard about what happened,” said ASPLU president Carl Pierce. “It didn’t hit me at first … then it started to set in more.”
As the reality of the situation set in, Pierce and ASPLU vice president Tamara Power-Drutis both felt PLU needed to respond in some way, to offer support to the students, faculty, staff and families of Virginia Tech.
“There’s something that bonds college students,” Pierce said. “We have similar drives, similar passions, similar lifestyles.”
Their initial plan to hold a letter-writing campaign branched into a series of activities that began with Wednesday’s chapel service, which was dedicated to the victims. Top PLU administrators, including President Loren Anderson, Provost Patricia O’Connell Killen and Vice President for Student Life and Admissions Laura Majovski, participated in the service.
Anderson said it was important for the PLU community to mourn, and to honor and give value to those sacrificed. The tragedy brought into sharp relief the frailty of life and the importance of those people around us, he said.
The Day of Solidarity continued on Red Square throughout the day. The campus community was invited to write letter of condolence to the people of Virginia Tech, and they could also write a note, create a drawing or place a hand print on a banner that was sent to the Virginia Tech as a token of PLU’s thoughts and prayers.
“It’s cool to see the campus come together and really unite. Not just the students, but also campus organizations, the staff and faculty,” Pierce said.
Senior Christy Olsen hails from Virginia, and lives four hours north of Blacksburg, Va. She learned of the shooting in a text message from her mom, and said one of her family’s neighbors lost a loved one to the violence.
“It really hit home for me,” she said of last week’s events. “It’s just such a normal place. It’s so tragic to have something happen to students just like us.”
The Day of Solidarity closed with a hymn and prayer on Red Square.
Support programs are available for PLU students, faculty and staff. Students are encouraged to call Counseling and Testing at ext. 7206 or Campus Ministry at ext. 7467, while faculty and staff are encouraged to take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-777-4114.
For more links to useful information, review the president’s message at http://news.plu.edu/virginatech.