NU mourns with VA Tech

NU mourns with VA Tech

By Nick Mendez

While perusing the Internet Tuesday afternoon, freshman Jeremy Gross learned his friend Ross had been killed.

Gross’ friend, Ross Abdallah Alameddine, was one of 32 students killed during the massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Monday morning. The tragedy was the bloodiest civilian shooting in American history and has captivated media and university campuses nationwide.

“I just thought about him yesterday,” Gross said. “I found out about it just four hours ago.”

Gross knew Alameddine, a 20-year-old sophomore from Saugus, in high school, where the two developed a friendship through music, compassion and mutual support.

“In high school I wasn’t one of the most popular of kids, and he really did a lot to help me,” Gross said, visibly shaken. “The last thing I said to Ross was that we should hang out again sometime.”

The university’s counseling and support services, Gross said, had been useful in helping him grieve. He was unsure if such support services could have prevented Cho Seung-Hui, the 23-year-old gunman, from erupting in violence.

“[Seung-Hui] was in counseling services; you can’t predict the future,” he said. “The fact that he had a couple of guns in his dorm room and the fact that he was in counseling and he was able to have guns, that was shocking.”

For those not directly affected by the tragedy in Blacksburg, Gross offered some advice.

“Always make sure to stay in touch with people who meant a lot to you,” he said. “Let people know how you feel. I never got to thank him for how he helped me.”

Gross said he was unsure what he’s supposed to do next.

“[I’m] just [going] to try to live my life. I have a bit of a sense of regret for not doing more when he was alive. Oh god,” he said, pausing for a moment. “Celebrate his life.”

Northeastern Director of Communications Fred McGrail acknowledged the tragedy’s reverberations and expressed confidence in university security measures.

“We will review our policies and procedures in the light of what has happened,” he said. “We’ve got significant security measures in place: 24-hour identity checks in residence halls, a well-trained security force.”

In addition to well-prepared security measures, McGrail reiterated the university’s emotional support offerings.

“There’s counseling available at University Health and Counseling Services and there are people at the Spiritual Life Office,” he said. “We encourage students to take advantage of those services. Our thoughts are with the people who died in this tragedy.”

In an address on the myNEU student web portal, President Joseph Aoun encouraged a pro-active approach to campus safety.

“You can help in this preventative effort,” he said. “Should you ever see anyone behaving in a manner that you deem suspicious, trust your instinct and call the Northeastern Police Department at 617-373-3333. They are there to help.”

President Aoun also offered his sympathy to those affected by the tragedy.

“Today we are reminded in a very sad and vivid way of just how precarious life is,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the Virginia Tech community.”

Freshman Collin Buesser, who attended a grief service Tuesday afternoon in the Sacred Space, said despite the tragedy he thinks campus is secure.

“I feel safe here,” he said. “But I think it could just as easily happen here.”

Freshman Paul Dranginis, another attendee, also noted the university’s multiple levels of security.

“I feel safe,” he said. “On this campus I feel like since it’s in the city, we have NUPD and Boston PD.”

Dranginis thought back to another tragedy, when freshman Adrienne Devino died in a snow tubing accident March 31.

“When that happened, the RAs [Resident Assistants] were open to talk to people, they were a shoulder to cry on,” he said. He said he hoped they would be equally available after this incident.

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