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Campus Life

BU Responds to Virginia Tech Tragedy

Vigil held at noon today

A vigil for the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting was held on Marsh Plaza on Tuesday. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Boston University officials reached out yesterday to those affected by Monday’s deadly shootings at Virginia Tech, offering support and sympathy to the college’s community and providing on-campus resources to anyone in need at BU.

“This is a horrible and senseless tragedy at an American university,” said BU President Robert A. Brown. “We and the higher-education community stand in solidarity with the students, faculty, staff, and parents of Virginia Tech in their time of great pain and sorrow.”

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said that a vigil for the victims will be held on Marsh Plaza today at noon. In addition, counseling is available at various venues on the BU campus. “Our hearts go out to the community,” he said, “and we have people available to assist those who have friends and loved ones affected, as well as those who want to process and give some thought to this tragedy.”

At least 32 people were killed and 30 others were wounded in Monday’s shootings on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va., described by the New York Times as the deadliest shooting rampage in American history. The apparent lone shooter is believed to be among the dead.

Any member of the BU community concerned by the incident is encouraged to take advantage of various counseling resources on campus, Elmore said, including resident assistants and the Office of Residence Life, the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at Student Health Services, and the University chaplains at Marsh Chapel. 

“We are trying to figure out what people’s concerns are and see how best to deal with them,” Elmore said.

University officials stressed that campus security, both in the residence halls and throughout the Charles River and MED campuses, is a top priority at BU. Thomas Robbins, chief of the Boston University Police Department, said that while a situation such as the Virginia Tech incident is rare and “very isolated,” it is the type of event that municipal police departments — including the BUPD — are trained for. Most departments, Robbins said, have had a planned response to such incidents since the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.

“We train alongside the Boston Police Department in our academies, and we are trained specifically for eventualities such as this,” Robbins said. “There are certain methodologies used, in terms of using firearms, developing formations, and clearing rooms and getting people to safety.”

When any threat to public safety occurs, surveillance and communication are critical, Robbins said, and Boston University is well-positioned in both areas.

“We have security officers at the desks of the high-rise dormitories and security cameras in locations across the University,” Robbins said. “We have the ability to get a police officer anywhere on campus within two minutes of an incident report.”

Robbins reminded students, faculty, and staff that any suspicious events or people on campus should immediately be reported to the BUPD so that the department can investigate and respond.

Counseling services are available through the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at Student Health Services. Students may speak with a member of the counseling staff by calling 617-353-3569 or by going to 881 Commonwealth Ave. University chaplains can be reached at 617-353-3560. Residence hall directors and resident assistants from the Office of Residence Life are also available at our campus residences and can be contacted by calling or visiting a residence hall office.

Jessica Ullian can be reached at jullian@bu.edu