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“Sanctuaries” Appear In Departments Across Campus In Wake Of Shootings

by Tricia Sangalang
News Staff Writer
April 21, 2007

A picture of Reema Samaha performing in a high school theater production hung on one of the walls of room 105 in the Performing Arts Building; her teacher from Westfield High School shared some memories of Samaha, and also expressed sympathies for her family and friends and the Virginia Tech community.

Samaha was among the 32 students killed Monday in a shooter’s rampage on campus.

In the aftermath, the Theatre Arts Department received e-mails from people all over the world sending their condolences. The department made the e-mails a central part of the memorial in Room 105.

Instructor Patricia Lavender said the faculty had set up the “sanctuary” for students to use as they like.

“This is intended as an open space for us to simply be together, to share writing, read aloud, sing, cry - whatever the Spirit moves us to do,” Lavender explained in an e-mail she sent to her arts marketing students.

Thirty-two panels hung in the sunlit room, in honor of those who died in Monday’s shootings. Students pinned notes, pictures and poems expressing their thoughts, feelings and memories of the victims.

Notecards, posters, paper and markers lay on the floor in the back of the room, providing students an area to write a message.

One female student used the space to write her message with a blue marker, while two other students sat in the windowsills looking out of the windows that face the grounds in front of McBryde Hall.

Room 105 is typical of various makeshift memorials appearing across campus as other academic departments seek to provide a time or place for their students to mourn.

A staff member in the office of mechanical engineering indicated there will be a gathering for civil, mechanical and electrical and computer engineering students on Monday April 23 in 340 Whittemore Hall from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Food will be provided by Dominion Power.

“It’s a place to get together, to meet with and spend time with fellow students and faculty,” said the staff member, who did not want to be identified.

The foreign language department will hold a ceremony to honor professors Jocelyne Couture-Nowak and Jamie Bishop on April 25, at 5 p.m. The department faculty members find the “...need to offer each other mutual support,” as stated in an e-mail sent to students. The faculty is sponsoring gatherings held at homes off-campus with students from Russian, German and French classes.

German and French classes in Norris Hall were among those attacked by the killer.

“With more than 1,600 students enrolled in foreign language classes, (we) prefer things to be done this way,” Department Chair Richard Shryock said. “It’s more intimate.”

In addition, the College of Architecture and Urban studies will have a memorial in the Cowgill Hall lobby “...for students to leave messages for the families of our two students,” Interim Dean Jack Davis said.

The English Department plans to have a memorial service for students and faculty on April 23. Additional details were not available Friday afternoon.

All departments will notify their students by e-mail as plans for similar events are finalized.

Comments (2)

*Reema Samaha*
She was a beautiful dancer and She was gorgeous*
*unique, talented, and irreplaceable
"She was so sweet, such a nice and lively young girl"
Rest In Peace..***Reema Samaha***Forever In Our Hearts*We will always love and remember Our prayers

aziz fain | April 22, 2007 7:58 AM

I am deeply saddened by your tragic loss. You are the future and when all the potential of life is ripped away from the young it is heartbreaking. But Hokie Nation. and these days we are all Hokie Nation, will pull together and survive. And never forget. You are in my prayers and the prayers of my community. Peace be with you...Jes

Jes Sauer, S.J. | April 22, 2007 10:02 AM