Virginia Tech: A Message from President Bridges

April 16, 2007

Dear Whitman Community and Family Members,

As a parent and a college president, my thoughts tonight are on the unimaginable tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech University. As we reflect on the horrific shooting, I would ask that each of us keep the university’s students, their families, and the faculty and staff on our minds and in our hearts. As details of this tragedy continue to unfold, we can only hope that subsequent incidents do not occur and that a period of healing will soon begin.

My thoughts are also with all of you. In the wake of this terrible crime and on an ongoing basis, we at Whitman must face the painful reality that the unexpected and tragic can happen. That’s not easy to admit, especially at a campus as idyllic as ours. No matter the surroundings, we must be prepared to respond to the needs of all of our campus community members and their families with precautionary measures, timely dissemination of information and thoughtful and effective reactions.

With your best interests in mind, we must continue to discuss how our community responds to crises of all kinds. Our safety office annually plans and implements comprehensive drills and exercises that simulate various crises, even those as unthinkable as a campus shooting. These exercises are designed to create an environment in which campus community members know what to do and feel supported, from medical attention and counseling services to transportation and communication.

Currently our counseling center is extending its service in the event that students, faculty or staff members need or want to speak with someone about the Virginia Tech incident. The Whitman College Emergency Preparedness Group will study the events of the tragedy to see if there are actions we can take that will assist in preventing such incidents, or that will help the college with our responses to such events should they occur. We hope that positive learning and growth, for individuals and our community, will result from these and other activities we undertake in the days ahead.

Please feel free to share any ideas you may have that might contribute to our ability to prevent or respond to such a tragedy. While our greatest hope is that we never face a catastrophic act like this, being mindful is critical.


George Bridges