In Support of Our Friends, Neighbors and Colleagues at Virginia Tech
Letter from President Kyle
See the text of a letter from President Kyle to the RU Community distributed Wednesday, April 25.
Students Express Emotions Through Art Class Final
For the final exam in her beginning drawing class, art instructor Kathleen Linkous had planned to give students the assignment of doing a perceptual portrait. “I wanted them to think about personalizing their drawing in some way, because many who move into advanced courses will want to become more expressive with their work.” But after Monday, April 16, she sensed a need for healing, and sometimes healing comes through expression.
Linkous has opted to give students the choice of doing a piece that expresses how they felt about the tragedy at Virginia Tech or a perceptual self-portrait. “I realized in class that students wanted to talk about what happened. One student was directly affected by the incident. She lost a family friend who was a professor and also had a friend who was shot.”
Linkous says she expects a wide variety of conceptual drawings and a few surprises. Students like the idea of being given a choice of expression.
She says, “One student is drawing the universe with bullet holes as stars.”
Friday, April 20, Statewide Day of Mourning
Friday at noon, the bells tolled 32 times across the Radford University campus as students, faculty and staff observed a moment of silence and reflection.
Governor Timothy M. Kaine declared Friday a statewide day of mourning for the victims of Monday’s tragedy at Virginia Tech. Radford, RU and communities throughout Virginia and across the nation held ceremonies and participated in prayer services, beginning with the ringing of bells at noon, eastern daylight savings time.
“As our Commonwealth begins the long and difficult healing process, I am filled with images of a Virginia Tech community that is resilient and unified,” said Governor Kaine. “I ask that everyone in Virginia pause at noon on Friday to offer prayers of support for the victims, their families, and for all those affected by this tragedy."
Burke Comments on VT Police Work
RU criminal justice professor and former police officer Tod Burke, whose areas of research and writing include school and campus violence, was interviewed by Adam Hochberg of National Public Radio about the response of Virginia Tech campus police to the shootings on April 16. Hochberg’s story, aired Saturday, April 21, can be heard at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9750905.
Burke was interviewed by reporters from a wide range of media organizations, including the Roanoke Times, CBS 6 WTVR in Richmond, USA Today and the Tokyo Broadcasting System.
Bonnie Days Support the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund
RU’s “Bonnie Days of April” is a week of special activities to promote awareness of the services and facilities available to the campus community at the Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center.
Although proceeds collected at Bonnie Days activities are normally collected to raise money for department scholarships awarded through the Student Activities Student Employees Association (SASEA), this year SASEA collected donations at the Bonnie Days Carnival and give them to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund established by the Virginia Tech Foundation. Radio station Hot 100 was also on site with a memorial banner for students to sign, which they will deliver to Virginia Tech.
Bonnie Days events took place throughout the day and night Friday. The event was sponsored by the Department of Student Activities, SASEA, Campus Activities Board/Black Awareness Programming Board, Black Student Affairs Council, International Student Affairs Council, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Phi Sigma Pi Fraternity and the Disabilities Resource Office.
Campus Community Members Grieve Together
Members of the RU community gathered at the Dedmon Center Thursday night for a candlelight vigil in support of each other and of the students, faculty and staff at Virginia Tech.
President Penelope W. Kyle, SGA President Martin Mash and Vice President for Student Affairs Norleen Pomerantz led the candlelight vigil.
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell spoke to the assembly of 500-plus people as well.
Preceding the vigil, the RU Music Therapy Club led a drum circle, an activity that in recent years has become a means for this community to deal with grief and begin healing.
RU Students Attend VT Candlelight Vigil
Many RU students drove to Blacksburg decked in orange and maroon to attend Tuesday’s candlelight vigil held on the Virginia Tech Drillfield, where thousands gathered to remember the victims of April 16.
Kathryn Fulk, a sophomore from Stuarts Draft, attended the vigil with two cousins who go to Virginia Tech. One cousin lives in West Ambler Johnston Hall, where the first shooting occurred. “It’s unreal, and it’s unbelievable what happened,” she said. “We need to keep VT in our prayers and be thankful for our friends and families.”
Fulk’s friend, Ashley McCray, a freshman from Roanoke, also attended the vigil to support one of her best friends, who attends Virginia Tech. “Most people from RU know someone from Tech, and vice versa,” she said. “We’re like brother and sister campuses.”
Though words could never really express the shock and dismay felt at Radford University following such a tragic event, McCray and Fulk are echoing the same sentiments felt by everyone: “Our thoughts and prayers are going out to the families at Virginia Tech."
RU Choir Honors VT
Tuesday’s RU choral performance of “Carmina Burana” began with a special hymn in recognition of the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech on April 16. Wearing orange and maroon ribbons in honor of Virginia Tech, student choir members filed into Preston Hall with lit candles and began to sing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” The audience of more than 350 stood to sing the hymn with the choir.
David Castonguay, associate professor of music, said the hymn was chosen because of its theme of reflecting upon death and finding hope in the midst of darkness. Castonguay said the performance was good for the students and helped them deal with the events that happened at Virginia Tech.
“This is the best thing the students could have done,” he said. “We as musicians process emotions through music. To not participate is hurtful because it’s our way of grieving.”
Tuesday Vigil at RU
With classes canceled on Tuesday, April 17, RU held a vigil in conjunction with television broadcasts of the Convocation on the Virginia Tech campus. Students turned out “in massive numbers,” said RU Vice President for Student Affairs Norleen Pomerantz, “and we expanded the vigil to three locations.”
One RU student group created a 20-foot banner with both schools’ logos, the words “RU Cares,” and handwritten and heartfelt messages from our students. This banner, and another 11 smaller banners, were delivered to the Tech campus.
Letter from President Kyle
See the text of President Kyle's letter addressed to the RU Community and posted Tuesday, April 17.
RU counselors and campus ministers have been assisting at Virginia Tech, and counseling is available on the RU campus for our students.
The RU counseling center, located in the basement of Tyler Hall, will observe extended hours over the next several days. Call them at 540-831-5226, or call these numbers for around-the-clock counseling assistance: 888-717-3333 or 800-284-8898.
Official Donation Websites
Virginia Tech has established an official Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund for those wishing to make a donation in honor of the victims of April 16.
Donations may be made online at http://www.vt.edu/tragedy/memorial_fund.php.
The United Way of New River Valley has also established an account to provide assistance to victims’ families for funeral and burial costs, transportation costs or other immediate costs. Donations may also cover the cost for uncovered medical expenses to wounded victims and for community agencies that may incur unusual costs associated with the response to the event. Contributions may be made online at http://www.unitedwaynrv.org or by mailing gifts to UWMRF, Post Office Box 6202, Christiansburg, VA 24068. Please indicate that your donation go specifically to this fund.
Volunteers Needed by Nonprofit Health and Human Service Agencies in NRV
Volunteers are needed to shadow mental health and responding professionals on the campus of Virginia Tech in order to provide clerical, organizational and data management support. Volunteers must be able to dress in business casual attire and must be able to provide their own transportation. Volunteers are needed to work shifts of six to 18 hours for one to two weeks. For more information, please contact United Way at (540) 381-2066 and ask for Stephanie or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mental Health Association of the New River Valley is in need of volunteers to help answer phones. Good phone skills and general office skills are needed. For more information, contact Susan Nelson at (540) 951-4990 or email email@example.com.
Volunteers are needed at the United Way of Montgomery, Radford and Floyd to provided administrative and clerical support at their office located in Christiansburg. Volunteers are needed to answer phones, assist with errands, organize information and provide general office support. Volunteers should be able to dress in business casual attire and provide their own transportation. Volunteers should be available on workdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. For more information, contact United Way at (540) 381-2066 and ask for Stephanie or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media contact Rob Tucker (email@example.com; 540-831-5803)