NIU has lost members of family


On Thursday afternoon NIU was attacked by a gunman who selfishly killed himself after reaping the kind of terror we could only have hoped we would never know.

But now we do know that terror, and the pain and questions wrought from it are as perplexing as trying to figure out how or why someone could ever do such a thing in the first place. The range of emotions the NIU community will experience and will continue to cycle through is difficult to control, but a few come to mind before anything else.

Anger, pain, fear, frustration and disbelief were all in abundance among the NIU family on Thursday as news of the tragedy spread. As the police took control of the situation, students, faculty members, parents and spouses were left to begin the overwhelming process of coping with this attack on our community, on our family.

It isn’t fair that someone should die for going to class, and that makes it all the more difficult to understand and deal with. It isn’t fair that loved ones and friends are forced to deal with the reality that the lives of those close to them have been taken away long before their time. And it isn’t fair that no one had or took advantage of a chance to stop this from happening in the first place.

But we can’t do anything about that, and as we continue to cycle through emotions, there is something we can all keep in our minds as we cope with the tragedy.

As a family, NIU can and needs to come together in a way most of us here today have probably never experienced. At least five members of our family were forever taken from us, and there is no one who belongs to NIU who is not affected by this. This is why we need to come together. When family members die, those who live must grow stronger through the consolation and understanding of one another.

There were shining examples of this Thursday, and I know they will continue for some time. Students who knew each other in no way besides the terror they shared Thursday hugged each other, consoled each other and came together. In late-night vigils on and around campus Thursday night, people shared a pain in a way they never imagined they would. We do this because the presence of one another makes us feel better, reminds us we still have family and friends – at NIU and back home and everywhere in between – to fall back on.

It will be difficult and even unbearable for many, but we will do it and we will be stronger as a family for it. To the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones, NIU shares this pain as a family.

NIU will never be the same, but we will NEVER forget those family members we must now live without. They will live on forever in our memories and in our hearts.