Dear Northern Illinois University,<br/>From one campus to another, we offer our condolences.
We are sorry for the pain that your campus feels, and for the violence and fear that permeated your institution of learning when you lost five of your students: Daniel Parmenter, Catalina Garcia, Ryanne Mace, Julianna Gehant and Gayle Dubowski.
In the aftermath of this catastrophe, information about the shooting has spread like wildfire through different lines of communication, but it has lead to many unanswered questions. Who was Stephen Kazmierczak, and what made him commit this terrible act? Could it have been stopped? And perhaps most pressing of all – why has this happened again?
While the important thing is to remember the spirit of these five individuals, one cannot help but feel like this story is all too familiar. These students have are now part of a larger list of violent deaths. Not even a year ago we mourned the massacre at Virginia Tech. Two months ago a gunman killed eight people before turning the gun on himself at a mall in Omaha. Feb. 4 a gunman killed five women in an Illinois strip mall. Less than a week ago a middle school student from Oxnard died after his classmate shot him twice. These four shootings amount to 54 deaths. Nine years have passed since Columbine.
These incidents are not isolated. Our nation is ill.
This sickness is dark and intangible. It’s not just our gun control laws, which must be changed (as it turns out, the same online gun dealer who sold Virginia Tech student Cho Heung-Si his weapons, Eric Thompson of topglock.com, also sold accessories to Kazmierczak). It’s not just the extreme amount of TV violence. In his documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” Michael Moore speaks of a “climate of fear,” criticizing th country for how obsessed Americans are with security. There is no one reason for it all, but clearly something is wrong in our culture.
But because it is born of our culture, we have the power to change it.
For the students at both our universities, as well as universities, schools, workplaces and homes around the country: don’t let these deaths be remembered in vain. Something has to change. Before any violent act is ever committed, someone, somewhere, has the power to do something to stop it.
The responsibility to change falls on all of us. Reach out to someone who seems to be suffering, or notify someone who can help. And listen to others. Remember that your actions matter, always.
In time we know you will recover; professors will continue to teach, and you will continue to learn. These deaths will never be forgotten, and in time they will weave themselves into the fabric of your university’s history. We will bear this burden too, in some way everyone in our nation will. And we don’t need to let this drag us down, just let it remind us of our duty to each other.
Sincerely,<br/>City on a Hill Press<br/>UC Santa Cruz