Prager Addresses Virginia Tech Tragedy
Dear Members of the Occidental Community:
I sent the following condolence message today to President Charles Steger, expressing our deepest sympathy to the students, faculty, staff, alumni and families of Virginia Tech in the wake of yesterday’s tragedy.
On behalf of the Occidental College community, I write with enormous sadness to the families, friends and to the entire Virginia Tech community. Yesterday’s events remind us all of the fragility of life, and of the need to reinforce a strong and positive spirit of support and collaboration on each of our campuses. In an unspeakably difficult situation, members of the Virginia Tech student body have evidenced courage, resilience and a strong love of their school as they cope with yesterday’s tragedy and its aftermath. Our thoughts are very much with all of you.”
Our colleagues and friends at Virginia Tech are facing the most horrific of events and our thoughts will be with them as they continue to deal with this tragedy. Many of you could reasonably be thinking about your own safety in the light of these events. I want to assure the campus community and the parents and families of our students, faculty and staff that we continue to focus on being as prepared as we can be for such an unthinkable circumstance. Our campus-wide emergency management effort focuses on both prevention and response, continually assesses the campus’s readiness and depends on all of us being vigilant.
Safety measures at Occidental include keeping residence hall doors locked 24 hours a day, residence life staff in each hall, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week patrols by Campus Safety, emergency phones at various locations on campus, requiring the display of a College ID for entrance to the library, and an excellent working relationship with the LAPD. For students’ safety and security, two or more persons are required to be present in any classroom, lab, or reading reference room after 10 p.m.
Occidental’s location in Southern California, an area susceptible to earthquakes, keeps us ever vigilant with an emergency preparedness plan in place and regular drills. Yesterday’s tragedy also causes us to review Occidental’s emergency operations. As we learn more about what occurred at Virginia Tech, we will apply the lessons learned to our own disaster preparedness planning. (An overview of the current plan can be found here.)
Although these events are a continent away, their impact here can be very real. Counseling and other support services are available at Emmons Health Center, from the staff of the Dean of Students, and from the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. Campus flags will fly at half-mast this week, in respect for the lives lost at Virginia Tech.
Tomorrow (Wednesday, Apr. 18) at 12:45 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. the Occidental community will gather for a memorial reflection in the north-east Johnson student Center quad.
With great sadness,