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Virginia Tech Remarks April 2007

At noon Friday, April 20, a brief memorial service and program was held on the Maucker Union plaza to remember and honor the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting. There were brief remarks from President Ben Allen and Northern Iowa Student Government President Andrew Morse. Following a period of silence, the Campanile bell tolled 32 times in honor of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.

UNI President Ben Allen

On Monday of this week, we all experienced shock, horror and disbelief at the senseless loss of life at Virginia Tech.

It is a national tragedy of the greatest magnitude.

Now, four days later, we have moved beyond shock.

We share an overwhelming sorrow in our hearts for the victims and their families.

As thinking, feeling human beings, we must allow ourselves time to grieve.

I know you join me in expressing that the family of students, teachers and administrators across the country feel as if we all have experienced a deep personal loss.   

The grief in our hearts is accompanied by a distress in our minds.

UNI wants to help all who are suffering through this difficult time.

Dave Towle and his staff from the UNI Counseling Center are available to all individuals needing to discuss these tragic events.

It is a distress that occurs when the sanctity of our nations’ institutions is threatened.

Let us each take a moment to remember those who have lost their lives in this terrible tragedy with a moment of silence, followed by the ringing of the Campanile 32 times to remember each victim at Virginia Tech.

--Ringing of Campanile Bells --

As we work through the complexities of our emotions, it is necessary for many of us in the educational community to engage in examination of our own institutions’ systems of preparedness and prevention.

The safety, security and well-being of the university community are facets of every consideration and every decision made by administration and faculty on every campus in this country.

Our job is to ensure that systems are in place that allow for the most free and open environment possible for the facilitation of learning, growing and living.  

The need for vigilance is a condition of the times in which we live.  We are naïve to think otherwise.  

There will always be events that cause us to assess, redefine and refine.

I assure you that this national tragedy strengthens our resolve to protect and preserve the sanctity of UNI and to work with the entire educational community as it engages in this process.

Most of all, I urge you—as you allow yourself to take time to process this event—to strengthen your resolve as well.

We all have a role in the solution.

Let us mark this point in history, and promise to each other that the losses and sacrifices endured this week will not be without meaning.

Let us move forward and be kind to each other while addressing difficult issues.  

We will ultimately be stronger for our commitment to the right mix of compassion, vigilance and the preservation of our free and open educational communities.

Thank you for coming to this memorial ceremony for Virginia Tech. 

May each one of you have the ability to move forward through this difficult time.

In closing, President Allen read an e-mail from Guy Sims, former assistant director of Maucker Union at UNI, now assistant vice president of student affairs at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Allen,

If you would allow me to speak on behalf of the community members of Virginia Tech, I have to offer a collective “Thank You” for all of the expressions of condolences during these dark day at our institution. As we work to see ourselves through each new day, please know your prayers lift and support us in ways that are needed most.

On a more personal note, everyday since the tragic and horrific events of April 16th , I walk from our student union, to our main administration building, to the Inn @ Virginia Tech to meet with families, student groups, and various other gatherings. There is a section of sidewalk in the path of my travels that has very large and visible streaks of blood. I cross this blood stained sidewalk about 4 or 5 times a day and each time I ask myself if I should change my route. Of course, as you can guess, my route stays the same.

The same goes for us here in the Virginia Tech community. We cannot and will not allow these events to change the course of our core mission of education of our students and being servants to the world.

Your continued prayers and words of support will help us to do so.

Go Panthers

Go Hokies

Dr. Guy A. Sims

Assistant Vice President

Division of Student Affairs

Virginia Tech