As reports developed throughout the day, we gradually learned that what had occurred in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday was the latest horrific instance of a mass killing of innocent students and teachers at what should have been a sanctuary of learning. This time, the massacre was rendered especially terrible by the large number of very young children among the victims.
This unspeakable tragedy fills us all with overwhelming sadness, but some in our George Washington University community are grieving for more personal reasons. The Newtown area is home to some of our students.
On behalf of our entire community, I extend condolences to all those personally affected by this senseless act of violence.
A university like ours must play its role, I believe, in seeking ways to stop such tragedies, especially as they continue to occur with such alarming frequency and devastating effect. We can and must marshal our expertise in public policy and in mental and social health to reduce the incidence and scale of the senseless violence that afflicts so many parts of our society.
Meanwhile, I want to remind all members of our community of the services available to help you cope with this traumatic event. Our Employee Assistance Program is available 24 hours a day, every day, to connect you with a trained professional who will provide free counseling services. In addition, there are resources on our Colonial Community website that can help you speak with children about what happened in Newtown. Students, please note that the University Counseling Center provides professional mental health support around the clock, 365 days a year. Please call 202-994-5300 at any time to speak with a clinician, or walk in during regular office hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Finally, during this holiday season, I ask that we keep the families of Newtown in our thoughts and prayers and reach out to members of our community who may be affected by this tragedy in a personal way.