Two University of Southern California (USC) graduate students were shot and killed while sitting in their vehicle early Wednesday morning. This is one of the latest tragedies to hit college campuses.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) community was shaken up four times in four months when it lost three students and a 2010 alumnus — two from suicide, one from a drug overdose and one from an unfortunate bike collision with a truck.
Last May a week after spring finals, the community of Joplin was hit with a tornado that killed a Spanish professor, one student and a spouse of a staff member at Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) and affected nearly everyone in some way in the school.
Every university deals with traumatic incidents on campus a little differently, but each of these incidents has brought the school closer together and reminded students of the support structure that the school provides.
A memorial for the two graduate students at USC was held on Wednesday. “The most powerful source of healing comes from the student community itself,” said USC Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni. “Since the tragedy, USC students have come together in sadness and solidarity — they’ve prayed together, embraced each other, comforted one another and wept together.”
Markos Generales, a sophomore in narrative studies at USC, said that as an undergraduate who wasn’t part of the international student community, he didn’t feel the effects of the shooting quite as much as those who were more involved with the international student community.
However, he said that USC kept all students in the loop with breaking news and also reminded everyone of their existing support services. “We were told about [these services] during orientation just prior to freshman year, but we are being reminded about their presence and usefulness after the shooting,” Generales said.
Generales said that he hasn’t heard of any new support services particular to this shooting yet.
After MIT lost two students to suicide in less than three months earlier in the school year, MIT Chancellor Eric Grimson put together a mental health working group to investigate health and support services.
“MITs response to the student deaths has been dramatic, but positive. For the first time in three years, I saw a push from students to talk about support services,” said Divya Srinivasan, a junior who is on the Chancellor’s mental health working group and is the president of Active Minds, a student group that raises awareness of mental health issues and resources on campus.
Even though MIT began working on looking into mental health on campus, “statistics have shown that students seek out other students for support as a first level of contact,” Srinivasan said.
As was the case in the aftermath of tornadoes that hit Joplin, Miss. at MSSU. When the infamous tornadoes hit Joplin on May 22, 2011, MSSU had just wrapped up finals and most students had left for the summer. The tornado killed over 150 people and flattened out a lot of the community.
Even though school wasn’t in session, MSSU sent out surveys to make sure they had accounted for all their students and staff. MSSU also created group therapy sessions over the summer that were geared towards tornado counseling and provided financial assistance to families who had big losses after the tornado.
Gabi Markovich, a current senior and junior in communications at the time, said while MSSU always encourages students to build community with each other, students at MSSU naturally care for each other and look out for each other when tragedy strikes.
“I think the students care about Missouri Southern enough to look out for one another,” Markovich said.
With the Joplin tornados from a little less than a year ago, Markovich found that the natural disaster had greatly affected not just their school, but it reached throughout the entire community and brought more than just their school together.
“It wasn’t really about the school at that point. It was about the whole community of Joplin,” Markovich said.
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