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Statements of Support
University of Virginia Holds Candlelight Vigil to Honor Virginia Tech Victims
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
At a candlelight vigil honoring those who were killed and injured at Virginia Tech in Monday's shootings, University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III told members of the U.Va. community Tuesday night that the world can be unpredictable and inscrutable. But Casteen also exhorted the students to continue moving forward to change the world.
Tonight we come together as a community to talk, meditate and mourn," Casteen told the crowd that overflowed McIntire Amphitheatre. Students, many of them dressed in Virginia Tech's maroon and orange colors, carefully held candles that were guttering in the evening breeze.
While the deadly shootings occurred in Blacksburg, Casteen said the event affected the U.Va. community in profound ways. One of the slain Tech professors has a daughter attending U.Va., Casteen said. A professor who had moved from U.Va. to Tech in 2003 was among the dead. One U.Va. student lost her sister, while another lost a cousin.
Universities are protected places with a commitment to openness, he said, and because of the permeability of their borders, they are virtually impossible to seal off, especially if they value open inquiry, discovery, teaching and learning.
Despite the grief the U.Va. community is feeling, Casteen said there are practical matters to address. While university populations are inevitably vulnerable, U.Va. and many other institutions around the country will re-assess their procedures in light of the Tech situation. U.Va., he said, has been exploring ways to notify the University community in times of emergency.
Casteen urged students to talk to one another, as well as faculty, staff and parents. He told students to stay in touch with loved ones and not to be embarrassed by their grief.
And he urged then to report anybody they thought to be suspicious, irrational or threatening.
Casteen had attended a convocation at Virginia Tech earlier in the day, a gathering he described as "somber but assertive of life." He told the students the Virginia Tech community "faced loss but continued to work together."
Apart from accepting the irrationality of life, Casteen said students need to train their minds to change the world and make events such as this shooting rarer and rarer.
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