Earlier this semester, I attending the University’s talk where they brought in a survivor of the VA Tech shooting to talk about her experience as well as school safety and prevention of another school shooting. She was in the building where the shooter attacked and was shot 3 ltimes. She ended up playing dead in the back of the classroom in order to survive while most of her classmates where killed. She has since been dedicated to teaching people how to survive in a similar scenario as well as educated schools and law enforcement on how to create a plan of action when these events happen.
She talked a lot about how the building she was in had very few entrance points making it easy for the shooter to barricade himself into the building and harder for law enforcement to get inside once the shooting started. Additionally, a UR police officer spoke to tell us about emergency resources on our own campus in order to help in an active shooter scenario. Overall, our campus seems very prepared for the unlikely event that this would happen but one thing I learned is that you can never be fully prepared for a tragedy such as the VA Tech shooting.
This past Tuesday, I attended the VA Holocaust Museum to tour the museum and to have dinner with two survivors of the Holocaust. I have been to the National Holocaust Museum in DC before but the tour of the VA museum was especially powerful as it tied many connections to Va to the Holocaust. One fo the most interesting things I learned about VA in relation to the Holocaust was about a farm in western VA that sheltered Jewish men that had escaped from Germany prior to the war. These men worked on the farm in order to make a living and in turn they were provided a place to live in safety away from Germany. When the war started, these men joined the allied forces and fought against Germany in WWII. I found this story unique and very interesting as it happened right here in VA.
After the tour of the museum, we sat downforce dinner and two survivors of the Holocaust spoke to our group. The man spent time in 4 different concentration camps. He claims the only reason he survived is because he was given better rations as he was a very skilled worker. The camp he was at was responsible for building rockets for the German army. He was liberated by the British army and then settled with his wife in Richmond. His wife who also survived the Holocaust had a different story than he did. She spent the Holocaust in hiding. Her father purchased fake papers for her and her sisters that claimed they were Catholic. At 14, she boarded a train with nowhere to go and eventually found work as a maid. She spent the war working as a maid under a false identity and then her and her husband moved to Richmond.
This experience was incredible as it really brought to light the horrors of the Holocaust though personal examples as well as tying the Holocaust back to Richmond
Last week I attended Take Back the Night on our campus forum. This event gave survivors of sexual violence and other members of the University community to speak about the problem of sexual violence on college campuses. The event structure was an open mic so student could come speak to the crowd on their own personal experiences or some students brought essays or poems they had written about the problem of sexual violence.
This event made me realize how prevalent sexual violence is especially on college campuses. While I thought I knew how awful sexual violence is, hearing first hand accounts from members of our University community gave me new perspective of the horrors of this issue. This event empowered survivors to be able to share their story about a topic that is often overlooked and uncomfortable to talk about. The overwhelming majority of sexual violence is against women and I think men have a duty to be active bystanders as we all have the ability to help stop sexual violence before it happens.
This event provided powerful first hand accounts that I hope inspired every person who attended to become more actively engaged in combating the problem of sexual violence, specifically on college campuses. I was unaware of how prevalent this issue was on our own campus. I went through Spiders for Spiders training with my fraternity last year and I hope this event encourages others to attend similar training and become more active bystanders