President's Message to Community, 4-16-07

Whittier College Responds to the
 Tragedy at Virginia Tech


Today, Poets are Hokies.
-ASWC President Adam Steinbaugh '08

On April 20th more than 200 Whittier College students, faculty, and staff gathered for a candlelight vigil on the Lower Quad to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy.

The vigil took place at the Rock, Whittier's campus icon, which was specially painted orange and maroon, the colors of Virginia Tech.

Photo by Paul Gallaher '07


Whittier Student Government Coordinates
Candlelight Vigil & Memorial for Virginia Tech Victims
 April 18, 2007
2:10 p.m. PDT

To all Members of the Whittier Community:

A candlelight vigil and memorial service for those lost and affected at Virginia Tech will be held at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at the Rock. Students, faculty, and staff will have an opportunity to speak or share their thoughts. If you'd like to speak formally, please contact the organizers of this vigil as soon as possible and meet at 8:45 p.m. to review speaking order.

There will be an additional opportunity for anyone to share their thoughts on an informal basis, as well.

Ribbons will also be available in the Campus Inn Hallway during lunch and dinner.

A message board will be outside the CI on which students can share their messages to Virginia Tech students. The board, along with any letters that students, faculty, or staff wish to send (please drop those by the COR office by Monday at lunch), will be forwarded to the Virginia Tech student government.

If you wish to help organize this effort, please contact Adam Steinbaugh, Ronny Nevo, Steve Addezio, or Tom Hirth.

Today, Poets are Hokies.

Adam Steinbaugh '08
President, Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC)


Letter of Condolence sent by President Herzberger
on behalf of Whittier College community
April 18, 2007

Dr. Charles W. Steger
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Dear President Steger:

On behalf of the trustees, students, faculty, staff and alumni of Whittier College, I express our heartfelt sympathy for all members of the Virginia Tech community touched by this week’s tragedy. Our prayers and best wishes join those from others all over the world as we seek to support your community. Seeing the images of the Hokies gathering for vigils and memorials - both impromptu and planned - gives hope that you will garner the strength and unity needed to heal.

As institutions of higher education, it is our shared mission to seek meaning in even the most unthinkable events. We are grateful for the openness of our colleagues at Virginia Tech as you cope with the shootings’ aftermath, and we pledge to learn from your experience. Together, we will work to ensure that our campuses provide safe environments that foster “learning, discovery, and engagement.”

These senseless murders will leave an indelible mark on your institution, higher education, and indeed, our country. At Whittier College, we hope that your shock and grief evolve into renewed commitment to institutional values, a deeper awareness of our many blessings, and an abiding pride in the resilience and compassion of your university.

With sincere condolences,

Sharon D. Herzberger


                                                  Excerpt of Letter to Whittier Community from Chief of Security Alex
April 17, 2007
4:41 p.m. PDT   

Whittier College Community,

By now, I know that you have all heard about the tragic circumstances which unfolded at Virginia Tech University yesterday. May we all keep the victims and their loved ones in our prayers.

Ensuring the safety and security of this community is my department’s primary obligation, but the responsibility also lies with each member of this community. Each person—whether student, staff, or faculty—has a responsibility to be prepared, to educate him- or herself on the designated building evacuation areas, read the emergency handbook and response plan, attend our safety seminars, and always take emergency drills and safety advisories seriously.

As you may already know, a number of resources for this campus [are located on the] Department of Campus Safety’s website. I strongly encourage all of you to bookmark this site. Additionally, we have just completed an emergency procedures flipchart, which will outline instructions for individual response to several potential crisis situations. Our goal is put a copy in every room on campus, so that everyone has access easy access to the information.

Officers that comprise the Department of Campus Safety are trained to handle all manner of scenarios that could take place on campus. All supervisors, including myself, have completed the Incident Command Training Course developed by the United States Department of Homeland Security. Throughout the year, the College’s Safety Committee—composed of campus officers, critical staff, and some senior administrator—meets regularly to review and revise protocols and procedures. Fire drills are regularly scheduled within the residence halls. Should any crisis arise, our emergency management team is poised to quickly mobilize and respond according to established guidelines.

We will continue to pay close attention to the situation as it unfolds at Virginia Tech. As we learn more details in the coming days, we will look for lessons we can take away—in both prevention and response—and adjust our policies, accordingly. While none of us can fathom such a heinous act occurring on our own campus, all of us must make every effort in future to remain vigilant and prepared.


Bernard C. Alex, Sr.
Chief of Campus Safety


  Letter to Whittier Students from Dean Ortiz
April 16, 2007
:51 p.m. PDT


As a campus community we are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting on the Virginia Tech campus.  On Wednesday, April 18, 2007, the chapel will be open from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. for reflection and prayer in memory for those who lost their lives, the injured and their families and friends. 
As you watch the news and discuss this event with friends or in class, please know that the resources of the Counseling Center are available to you to help you process your reaction to this unfortunate event.  The Counseling Center's telephone number is 562-907-4239.  The director, Dr. Shikana Porter, can be reached at
Jeanne Ortiz
Dean of Students


 Letter to Whittier Community from President Herzberger
April 16, 2007
                                                                                               12:44 p.m. PDT

To Members of the Whittier College Community:

You may be aware of today’s tragic event on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.  An unidentified gunman opened fire on a dormitory and classroom, and several students and possibly others have been reported killed or injured. 

This horrible incident is a serious reminder to us all that our daily security and safety rest on the strength of our community, our ability to look out for each other.  It also is a reminder of our founders’ sage advice to make our lives matter, whether short or long. May this horrible tragedy serve some purpose in encouraging us to think about our own lives and our community. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims and all those whose lives ultimately will be affected by this shattering day.


Sharon D. Herzberger




Whittier College Office of Communications
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