Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: Newtown Tragedy Horrifies and Enrages Fordham Graduate Students

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown Tragedy Horrifies and Enrages Fordham Graduate Students

     When I learned on Friday afternoon about the horrifying school shooting that had taken place that morning, I was in the staff lunchroom in the high school where I work in the afternoons. I was actually writing a post for this blog, about a new dating website for graduates called "Gradhearts." I quickly scrapped that post, for obvious reasons, and began to read about the event on the internet.
      It was hard to not to be viscerally affected by the news -- with laughing students milling around in the school library just yards away from me, and having recently just practiced the shooter on the premises lockdown drill in this school, all of the teachers and staff in the lunchroom were barely able to speak, choking back tears.
      Later in the day, as information unfolded about what exactly happened, and how and why it could have happened, the GSAS community began to respond to the shooting via social media. The response was, at first, to express shock, sadness, and bewilderment. Most everyone used words like "unspeakable," "unfathomable," and "incomprehensible," in their responses on Friday. Many, including me, had an extremely physical reaction, feeling sickened, nauseous, ill, and/or shaky.
     That day, Father McShane released the following statement:

    Dear Members of the Fordham Family,
    Our hearts are broken today by the senseless killing of children and adults—we are not yet sure of how many—at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
    Words like horror and tragedy almost lose their meaning in the face of such loss. The pain and sorrow of the victims’ families is unimaginable, and must be nearly unendurable.
    I know you all join with me in prayer for the souls of those who were killed, and for their loved ones, whose mourning is only beginning. Keep the grief-struck families in your hearts, and pray, too, for the healing of their community, and this nation, from this most grievous wound.
    Joseph M. McShane, S.J.

     As the weekend wore on, more of us began to come to terms with how we felt about this massacre: enraged, furious, saddened, heartbroken, fed up, disgusted. More of us began speaking out on social media, together working through the arguments and ideas about gun control, the Second Amendment, mental illness, mental healthcare, violence, media coverage, American cultural values, and even religion, God, and faith.
     Tonight, President Obama spoke at an interfaith memorial service and prayer vigil for the victims, delivering a moving and inspiring speech calling for change. Many of us are now responding to this speech, too, searching for a way to make meaning out of the senseless horror.
     As a community, I know we will continue to discuss this, and I hope we will not only keep the conversation going but also be moved to action. I hope the GSAS family can contribute positively and constructively to this call for change in our social policies and cultural values. I give all my love, thoughts, prayers, and hope to the families and community members affected by this tragedy.
     The faces of the 6 and 7 year olds who died, and the faces of the teachers who died trying to protect them, are flashing now on my TV screen. It is too sad. I try to think about their families and I get sick again.
     I try to think about the survivors -- the children and teachers who were in the next room, or the room down the hallway, as their friends and classmates and co-workers were murdered. I am heartbroken for them, too.
    My job at the high school I mentioned above is to provide academic and behavioral support to one of my students with autism. I feel deeply, too, for him, hoping that the emerging coverage related to this tragedy about Autism Spectrum Disorder-- the disorder that makes his life so much harder than his friends' lives --  won't make people afraid of him or others who also struggle with it.
    More to say, of course... but for now, good night. -- Liza

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