University shows care after tragedy

In wake of the tragic loss of human resource management student Trevor Wehner and College of Business alumnus Clayton Parks, the university reacted in a way that allowed students to feel safe and come together rather than growing divisive in fear.

Wehner and Parks were killed Feb. 15 in the shooting at Henry Pratt Co., 401 S. Highland Ave., Aurora, and the university did not wait to respond. The following morning, students and faculty received an email from NIU President Lisa Freeman, the first of many hands extended by the university to grieving students.

“It’s important that we also support one another during this time of grief and sadness,” Freeman wrote in her email, providing multiple support options for students to take advantage of.

Freeman’s initial outreach to students was poignant and heartfelt, allowing students to find comfort in the community in which they reside. What’s more — that was not the last of the university’s attempts to reach out to students, thus allowing students to grieve in a safe space.

Following the email, the university and College of Business put on several events to honor Wehner’s and Parks’ lives, including a vigil held Feb. 21 in the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center. Students attest that the vigil and other support provided by the university helped them during the grieving process.

“Coming back to class on Tuesday was an obstacle,” senior management major Yousef Judeh, who attended the vigil, said, according to a Feb. 25 Northern Star article. “With the support of our NIU counseling services and our professors, we did not have to go through the grief alone.”

Though not everyone knew Parks and Wehner personally, the university has made a point to let all students know it is okay to be grieving in this time of loss. Students should not feel uncomfortable being emotionally affected by the Aurora shooting, and Freeman and other university officials have made this difficult time just a little bit easier for students to get through.