I am troubled by the recent events in Virginia Tech, but I think there is a great social change that VT caused in this generation that is worthy of note and support. I will not comment on the event itself, rather the response to the event.
"It is a sad comment on the human condition when the most notable place-markers in time are the ones of greatest tragedy."
As we all know, the current college generation (those born from 1983-1988) have grown up through plenty of fear and violence in schools across the country. I dont mean to be morbid, but just a reminder of where this generation is coming from.
It stunned me to find that we were the first generation in history to have a televised school massacre at least once per school level we attended (elementary, junior, and high school). That should say something about the culture we have matured in; the culture that we have been shown as a model for our future.
I remember hearing stories of the Frontier Junior High massacre of 1992, the Heath Highschool Shootings of 1997, the Jonesboro Massacre of 1998, the Columbine High School massacre of 1999, and the Amish School Massacre of 2006, just to name a few.
A few days ago I took out another mental index card and wrote down "Virginia Tech, 2007."
Yet, in spite of the brutal violence and instability, it would appear that our generation has grown up stronger. We have learned that there is no gain from that violence, and we have learned not to repeat it. We have grown a weather-worn shell that is used to battering.
We are strong because we were taught from an early age that we have to be. It was a necessity for survival in the wild, and now it's making a comeback. It seems to reappear at times after some tragedies, but not others. I find myself with the same feelings I felt after 9/11... that yearn to selflessly contribute to help close the suffering and grief of others that I have never known and probably will never meet.
And I am happy to say I'm not alone.
In my recent wanderings of the web, I found so many outpourings of support from every corner of the country that I felt the need to document this for the future.
The first place that college students began to band together was Facebook, the infamous social networking site. From Facebook alone, there have been over 9,400 groups started in memorial of the VT massacre. That's at least 120,000 students that have raised their voices to show support. In particular, there is one group called "A tribute to those who passed in the Virginia Tech shootings." that has collected over 310,000 members and is growing rapidly. No where else have I ever seen 310,000 people that have raised their voices to agree on the same idea.
From their photo gallery in the group, one student submitted the following photo that I think sumarizes the university-wide sentiment quite elegantly:
I dont even have to look to see if RIT has their logo in there. Whether or not it is actually shown, it should be there.
From there, I moved on to another one of my favorite sites, CollegeHumor.com. Now I can't recommend wandering that site as some of the content may be inapropriate, but there is one page that caught my attention. (click) Here, the masters of inane college humor take a moment to sober up and comment on the recent events in an elegant and simple manner. Over 4,000 students have paid their respects to VT so far, and every one of them have been mature and honest in their posts.
Everywhere I look, I see an outpouring of support in creative ways from normal students with no relation to the tragedy; students that though "it could have been at my university" and "that should never have happened." With most major tragedies, the news sensationalizes them and we all gasp, but then life goes back to normal. For Virginia Tech, it seems that every college student in the United States (and many abroad) have taken action for themselves and become symbolic brothers of VT. In the end, the only difference between Virginia Tech and any other college in the country is the choice of mascott and a couple of miles. We are all the same students studying the same things, just in different places.
Students have gone as far as raising money, worn maroon and orange (VT's colors) in memorial, and some just stood up and held a candle in the night sky. But together, we acted. Together, we supported. Together, we huddled with our college brothers for a moment of silence.
We weren't even there, but we may as well have been from the reaction.
Students care. I see it, they see it, and we all hope Virginia Tech students see it, too.