NIU acted promptly with counseling program

At Northern Illinois University, school officials and staff members have taken extra steps to ensure the well-being of students directly affected by a campus shooting in 2008.

The Office of Support and Advocacy was created to provide assistance to the 157 students enrolled in a geology class where five students were killed by a gunman in February 2008, as well as the roommates and close friends of the five students who died, in addition to students in the immediate vicinity of the classroom where the shooting occurred.

The office offers support that extends beyond counseling. Each semester it e-mails professors asking them to be extra sensitive to the needs of these specific students. It’s not a request for special privileges but for awareness and understanding. The office also provides tutoring and has helped injured students with hospital and insurance paperwork. Virginia Tech also has a similar program.

Though schools can only hope they would never have a need for such a service, NIU should be commended for its efforts to protect the emotional and mental well-being of particularly vulnerable students. It is to be hoped that other schools affected by large-scale tragedies, such as a campus shooting, follow in NIU’s footsteps if their resources allow it.

Editor-in-chief Julieta Chiquillo for the editorial board.