During the Fall/Winter 2016-2017, Virginia Tech planned the program for the ten year anniversary of the 2007 shooting. The university provided two nights lodging for immediate family members of those who lost loved ones and physically injured students. Unfortunately, they didn’t offer lodging to uninjured survivors. They also did not be reserve rooms for uninjured survivors who want to pay for the room at their own expense. In September 2016, I wrote this letter to Virginia Tech to express my feelings.
Dear Virginia Tech,
I want to express my dissatisfaction with how you’ve treated the uninjured survivors from the 2007 Norris Hall shooting.
For the past ten years, I feel like you have ignored the uninjured survivors of Norris Hall classroom 205. There were eleven survivors in my classroom during the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. We were sitting in class when the gunman tried to enter our classroom, and shot at the door while we laid on the floor pushing against it. Yet, you treat us like we didn’t experience a traumatic event.
For the ten year anniversary, I believe that offering us the same remembrance events that are available to the entire Hokie nation is not enough. I recently asked you to organize a reunion for my classroom for the ten year anniversary. Isn’t this backwards? Why is the survivor asking the university for a reunion? Shouldn’t the university be asking the survivor if we are interested in a reunion? Although you may not realize it, the uninjured survivors are yearning for a feeling of connectedness. I am exhausted from feeling lonely.
For almost ten years, I minimized the event because you minimized the effect the shooting had on physically uninjured survivors. Throughout the 2007-2008 academic year, you organized gatherings for students in the other classrooms, but not for us. We weren’t shot, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t injured. Health is a combination of physical health and mental health. The shooting damaged my mental health for eight years. I want to be the voice for the “uninjured” survivors in my classroom and tell you that we were affected too!
At the end of the day, it isn’t about the cost of the two nights lodging. It’s that I would like to feel included. It is the principle. I want you to know that I feel left out. I wish you did a better job looking after the uninjured survivors.