Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando’s Colleges Offer Solace in the Wake of Tragedy



The Chronicle of Higher Education By Beckie Supiano
June 14, 2016

Colleges in and near Orlando, Fla., have spent the past two days responding to the mass shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded there over the weekend. Presidents released statements of condolence, while their campuses provided counseling services, organized blood drives, and planned memorials.

Many young adults were among the victims of the attack, which began at a gay nightclub at about 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. The city was still releasing their names on Monday, but several had been identified as college students in news reports, and at least one student’s death has been confirmed by his college.

As the victims’ names were released, the student-registration staff at Seminole State College cross-referenced them with those of the college’s students, said Mark R. Richardson, Seminole State’s communications manager. They found one match on Sunday: Luis S. Vielma, who was studying emergency medical services before he died in the attack.
The college has not yet planned a memorial for Mr. Vielma, but the student government or alumni association may organize one, Mr. Richardson said.

Representatives of several other area colleges said that they were also monitoring the list of names to find out if their students were among the deceased.

It may take some time for the colleges to determine just how many students, faculty, staff, and alumni were present during the shooting or lost a loved one in it. In the meantime, they are working to provide students with support, and also give them a chance to help by offering solidarity and donating blood.

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