Editor's Note: It seems like The DailyPress pulled her article so think below won't work. For anyone who wants to read it, I pulled it from Google Cache. Also, these are beautiful words. -- Joe
Required reading: Another shooting at Virginia Tech - a snake-bit college by Tamara Dietrich.
This is garbage. This is drivel. This does not enrage me; it saddens me. This is misinformation disguised as journalism – and as such – deserves the amount of criticism that follows.
Virginia Tech is not, as Tamara Dietrich proclaims, a “snake-bit community.” If a truly unfortunate string of occurrences has led her to such a conclusion, that Virginia Tech’s reputation has predominantly become “the school where you’re most likely to get shot,” demonstrates the highest display of ignorance. Virginia Tech is not – and should not – be defined by the individual actions of a handful of people that, mostly, are not affiliated with the university.
In her efforts to provide a timeline of sorrow detailing the recent heartache experienced by the Tech community, Ms. Dietrich illustrates the pitfalls of generalization to an extreme. Her suggestion that “Crisis Management 101 should be mandatory for incoming freshman” – an incredibly insensitive comment towards a grieving community – is absurd. The matriarch of our University, Nikki Giovanni, succintly provided a counter argument to Ms. Dietrich’s logic four years ago when she stated the obvious during a convocation on 17 April, 2007: “No one deserves a tragedy.” Virginia Tech surely did not ask to become the center of attention yet again. Nor does Pennsylvania State University ask for the attention and criticism brought about by child abuse allegations. Not did Rutgers University ask for the attention and criticism brought about by bullying and homophobic rhetoric. Yet unfortunate things happen, and these institutions of higher education have responded in the only appropriate way: to remain emotionally strong, be supportive of fellow community members, and (although it may be difficult) act calm and mature. Ms. Dietrich, with her words, has failed to achieve any of those three aims.
I have had the immense pleasure of being both a student and an educator at Virginia Tech. One of my charges as a Teaching Assistant was to aid in the development of undergraduate research projects; over the sources of two semesters, I would estimate that I critiqued roughly 55-60 individuals’ projects. In their drafts, NOT ONE of my students ever came close to making the types of unfounded statements that Ms. Dietrich has dispensed throughout her article. Her willingness to ignore even the blatant contradictions made in her argument demonstrate the amount of journalistic integrity (not to mention common sense) that she sacrificed for the sake of sensationalism:
- She seemingly casts blame on the tragic disappearance and death of Morgan Harrington on the university. This happened in Charlottesville, on the grounds of another institution with a sterling academic reputation. Ms. Dietrich ignores the fact that the University of Virginia is 150 miles northeast of Blacksburg.
- She fails to note that the gunman, Ross Truett Ashley, was not a Virginia Tech student, but a student of neighboring Radford University.
- She states with conviction the presence of a gunman on campus in August 2011, although both university and law enforcement officials described the situation as nothing more concrete than a “possibility.” The alert issued was an effort of transparency, a demonstration by university officials that regardless of hard evidence, the allegations of high school summer camp attendees were being taken seriously with the safety of faculty and students in mind.
- Despite her effort to be comprehensive, she failed to remember the jailbreak and murder of a Montgomery Country Sheriff’s officer by William Morva in August 2006. Morva, like Ashley, was not a member of the Virginia Tech community. It is surprising that Ms. Dietrich overlooked the situation most similar to what unfolded on 8 December 2011.
- She took a football player’s tweet out of context, ignoring the fact that that he also posted the following: “People need to stop calling out Virginia Tech…people are crazy everywhere.”
Most importantly, Ms. Dietrich failed to recognize the fact that, by the time her article was posted at 8:07 pm, 9 December 2011, a group called Hokies for Crouse had raised more than $25,000 in support of the family of our fallen guardian. By midnight, donations exceeded $30,000. (To donate, please visit here). This last point – more than anything – accurately describes the Virginia Tech community. We are not masochists, as her words suggest; we are not willing participants in tragedies that defy description. But we ARE a community of selfless individuals, of people that display incredible resiliency and support in the face of adversity. There is no “drumbeat of doom” that permeates our campus, contrary to Ms. Dietrich’s allegations, the only thing one finds in our classrooms is the continued effort to improve the world we live in, to “invent the future” as the official discourse goes. We are a vibrant, intelligent, and passionate community - more than, as Ms. Dietrich suggests, a bunch of “quality football” fans. We are educators and students. We are cadets and civilians. We are engineers and aggies. We are sad that that we lost one of our own. We are Virginia Tech.
Copyright. Photography by Ivan Morozov - source