Commentary: Tech Bonds Together to Support President Steger and Chief Flinchumby Kirsten Gravely
April 23, 2007
As sad a day as April 16, 2007 was, and still is, Tech is moving forward. Not, however, without supporting those who strived to protect all of us. Chief Wendell Flinchum of the Virginia Tech Police Department and Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger have done wonders for our community.
After this tragedy, many of the students were filled in on what was happening minute by minute thanks to Chief Flinchum and President Steger. I do not feel any anger at this point towards those who have put them through the ringer, however, I would like for them to understand something. Nobody could have anticipated what happened to our peaceful community.
Though some may be frustrated with the procedures used by the University and the Police, we all need to be thanking them. The parents that still have their children and loved ones can, and have, shown their undying appreciation for everything that Steger and Flinchum have done for us in protecting their loved ones. Those parents that lost children, or the friends that lost friends and loved ones; appreciation is still shown to Steger and Flinchum for doing everything they could have done, making our bond as a Hokie Nation even more united.
The media has done good reporting here, yet they have also frustrated some of the student body. Questions about security measures that the school takes, what was not done on April 16th, and questioning Steger or Flinchum’s methods angered some of the student body.
The issue at hand here, and the only issue, is that 33 lives were lost on April 16, 2007. A young man was sick and needed help, and did not receive that help, leading to this awful nightmare that fell upon our campus. I have never felt anything except safe here at Virginia Tech. That is not without saying that many of the reporters that have shown up on campus have been kind and thoughtful regarding this tragedy. Yes, many are angry towards him, myself included. It is hard to fathom that someone was capable of doing what this young man did.
As a student at Tech, I will say that I share one frustration with many, and that is that students were not notified earlier of the first shooting. That said, people are human, and they make mistakes. Our officials did everything they could, and everything they deemed necessary during the crisis. They are mourning just as we all are and need our support. I hand delivered a poster that some friends and I created for Chief Flinchum when I saw him going into Burruss Hall earlier this week. Needless to say, it made me feel an incredible sense of pride that I am a Hokie, and Flinchum’s look of appreciation when I handed it to him put both of us on the verge of tears. He gave me a great hug as he told me how much he appreciated our support, and I am happy I can say I made him smile in a time that not many smiles have been had. Posters were also made for both President Steger and the Virginia Tech staff.
President Steger has been incredibly concerned about his students, as we have all seen through our e-mails and his announcements. He has the student body’s best interests at heart, and we appreciate him more than words can say. The message here is that in this time of darkness, the only thing that can make it light is constant support from family, friends, and loved ones.
President Steger, Chief Flinchum and the staff of Virginia Tech: You are all greatly appreciated for everything you have done and the support you have given us, and we will move forward. As Nikki Giovanni said, “We are the Hokies. We will prevail, we will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.” Our hearts will mend, our tears will dry, but our memory will never be erased of what happened on April 16, 2007.