Rich Holly's Percussion Place

Assorted ramblings and occasional updates in the world of percussion.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Wow, what a couple of weeks it has been. Most of us, myself included, are still in some shock and disbelief about the shootings on campus. All of the injured students (and instructor) have been released from the hospital as of yesterday - thankfully they all survived.

Last week was particularly stressful. Designated as a Week of Healing, no classes or events of any kind were held. There were visitations and funerals for the 5 deceased students which several NIU administrators and faculty attended. Last Thursday, at exactly to the minute one week after the shootings, we held 5 minutes of silence on our Martin Luther King Mall, which is right next door to the building (Cole Hall) where the shootings took place. It was pretty powerful.

All faculty and staff received training last week to help us understand how to deal with the students and several of the common questions they would have. Classes resumed this past Monday, and we had over 500 additional counselors on campus Monday and Tuesday so that every class had a counselor present. I've heard from several faculty and students that having the counselors in their classes was really meaningful.

This past Sunday evening we held a Memorial Service at our Convocation Center. It was completely filled (more than 10,000 people), and there were 5 overflow locations, each of which was at least half filled, to which the service was broadcast via closed circuit TV. Our President, John Peters, spoke, and his wife provided the memorial for the 5 students (and she was wonderful - I don't know how she was able to say their names without breaking down). Other speakers included the Governor of Illinois and our senior senator, Dick Durbin, a faculty member (Judy Santacaterina, who provided really moving comments), the student association president, and a couple of others. Our Concert Choir sang three hugely appropriate selections. Barack Obama was on stage but did not speak. At the end, we all stood to sing the NIU Alma Mater - except by then nearly all of us were all crying and very few understandable words came out of any one's mouth. All in all it was a tremendously moving and excellent service.

NIU now has a webpage regarding the shootings with links to various sources and resources, which you can find here. One of the first links is to the video of the memorial service, I encourage you to watch it - it lasts one hour.

The Chicago media did a terrific job of keeping up with the stories and investigations. In particular I liked the coverage by the Chicago Tribune and NBC channel 5.

Amidst all the sorrow, I received over 100 emails, cards, phone calls and text messages from all over the world, as did all of my colleagues. The outpouring of sympathy and support has been phenomenal. Two days ago we received a scrapbook, mailed to our band students, from the marching band at Virginia Tech (the site of horrible shootings nearly one year ago). The scrapbook is filled with drawings, letters, memorabilia and the like demonstrating the Marching Hokies' support for our students. It's absolutely amazing.

Yesterday the Governor asked the state legislature to approve bonds for $40 million to demolish Cole Hall and build a new classroom building which would be named Memorial Hall. There are mixed opinions about this, many being shared on comments pages of the major media outlets. I am completely on board with this plan.