Thursday, April 26, 2007

To all Virginia Tech students:

I write to thank the students of Virginia Tech for all they have done to help themselves and their university in the crisis of April 16.

There are so many examples of student heroism, sensitivity, and humanity that one could cite: members of the Rescue Squad who put the safety of others before their own; persons in Hokies United, SGA, and GSA who worked to coordinate support services for fellow students; those who constructed shrines of remembrance for the fallen; staff on the Collegiate Times who worked to keep the community informed; individuals who in numerous residence halls, clubs, and associations reached out to assist those who needed a helping hand, a kind word, or a friendly embrace. These acts of kindness clearly underline that the cruel deeds of April 16 reflect badly on one terribly deluded person but do not reflect at all on the community. Or to put it another way, these acts of kindness show that “Ut Prosim” is not just an antiquarian motto—it is part of a living code.

Let me encourage each student to continue with acts of intentional kindness and to encourage his or her friends to do the same. I am probably stating the obvious, but the following reminders may be useful:

For professional and personal reasons, a fair number of students will carry a full academic load until the end of the term, while many more will need to complete partial loads. Out of respect for their academic obligations, especially in a trying time, please be careful about excessive noise and observe quiet hours.

Excessive noise also can be painful for persons who are dealing with grief. Many times they need a degree of quiet. So again try to be respectful of that need.

If you have a friend who appears to be in serious emotional distress, please do not hesitate to seek support for him or her at the Cook Counseling Center (located in McComas Hall). If you are not quite sure how serious his/her crisis is, remember it is better to err on the side of caution.

Students from all backgrounds have stated openly that the ethnicity of the shooter had nothing to do with his cruel acts, and it has been gratifying to see students refrain from biased racial remarks. Please encourage all persons, on- and off-campus, to take the high and fair road.

Sometimes persons who grieve will attempt to self-medicate by using alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant, it tends to hurt more than help. Also if used to excess it can be life threatening. So please be restrained and thoughtful in this area, and encourage the same in others. Please be especially respectful in your behavior when you are downtown or in off-campus areas.

Continue to exhibit the qualities of a true Hokie–serving others, being considerate, looking out for each other, and protecting and helping each other.

Finally, know that we are proud of you.

With best wishes,

Zenobia Lawrence Hikes
Vice President for Student Affairs