President Knapp's Message to GW Community Regarding Tragedy at Northern Illinois University

February 14, 2008

To the GW Community,

Yet another tragedy has occurred on an American college campus, this time at Northern Illinois University. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to all the university's students, faculty, and staff.

This marks the fourth shooting incident at a U.S. school within a week -- the second at a college or university -- and serves as a stunning reminder that it is impossible to know when and where violence will occur.

In one of my first acts as president, I asked a group of administrators, students, and faculty to review safety and security measures on our own campuses and to offer recommendations. This presidential task force has now completed its work, and the results are due to be released within the next few days. As the study will show, GW already has in place comprehensive public safety and emergency management policies and procedures. But even with established best practices in use, there is always room for improvement.

A college campus is designed to be a nurturing environment, a center of learning and inquiry where people are challenged in positive ways to grow and to understand our world so they can ultimately go forth to make it better. Nothing is more important on our campuses than the safety and security of our community, and this horrendous event at Northern Illinois University once again impresses upon us the need to be vigilant.

The resources of our University Counseling Center (202-994-5300) are available to all students who may be affected by this tragedy, and we encourage those in need to reach out.

I am sure I speak for everyone at GW in saying the victims, their families, and their friends are in our thoughts and prayers.


Steven Knapp

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