Thursday, May 03, 2007

Virginia Tech- A Different Perspective


By Abelardo de la Peña, VP, Consumer Strategist, Latino Markets

The effects of last week's Virginia Tech massacre continue to reverberate, with issues of school security, mental health, videogame violence and more being discussed and debated. It's become an international tragedy, not only because of the sheer magnitude of the atrocity, but also because of the diverse range of nationalities of the victims — Americans, Indonesians, Romanians, Canadians, Vietnamese and Indians.

Spanish-language media — Univisión, Telemundo, daily newspapers and websites — are extensively following the calamity and ongoing developments, with special emphasis on the victims of Latin American ancestry. Their coverage also brings focus to the many manifestations of fear, safety, compassion, spirituality, empowerment and community, universal values brought to a fever pitch by the terrible event.

Although Virginia Tech's Latino student population is relatively small — 503 undergraduates out of 21,937 ( 4.07) — campus organizations including Circulo Hispano , Latino Link and Lambda Sigma Upsilon provide Latino students opportunities to socialize, network, and make the most of the school’s academic excellence, lively campus life and diverse but close-knit student body.

It's impossible to know whether the gunman drew any distinction between the victim's cultural backgrounds. It's doubtful he did. Paradoxically, neither have the grieving students, families, residents of Blackburg, VA, or global sympathizers. In their sorrow and struggle for normalcy, they are all Hokies.

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