Letter from the Editors: Response to Mass Shooting at Robb Elementary


Courtest of Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

Crosses and flowers stand outside of Robb Elementary.

On Tuesday afternoon, in Uvalde, Texas, 21 innocent lives were taken. Nineteen students and two teachers excited for their final days in the classroom before summer vacation were massacred in a place so many think of as a sanctuary. Survivors and members of this community are now left to grapple with unimaginable trauma.  

The event that took place in Uvalde is intolerable. Innocent lives of children and their educators should not be vulnerable in a place that is supposed to be a safe environment. It is far past time to enact common sense gun reform laws. Stricter background checks, restricted access to automatic weapons and enacting waiting periods between when individuals purchase a gun and when they can gain access to it are just a few examples of attainable steps that can be taken to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again. 

University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, addressed the tragedy to the University community on Wednesday, May 25, saying, “The loss of any human life, especially as the result of violence, is tragic, but something about the loss of young, innocent, defenseless children feels all the more devastating. To the entire Uvalde community, my heart is with you.”

Father Peter expressed disbelief in having to address the community again about yet another act of gun violence, referring to his message the previous week sending condolences for the victims of shootings in Buffalo, Houston and California.

In his heartfelt message this past Wednesday, Father Peter asked the community to pray for the lives lost and the families and friends of the victims. He went on to encourage the Villanova community to reflect on steps they can take in their own lives to elicit change.

“I ask each of you to look honestly at yourself and consider how you can make a difference, whether it be in your work, in your homes or in your actions,” Father Peter said. “What can, and should, we be doing as individuals and as Villanovans to ensure this never happens to anyone ever again.” 

Not only is it futile to simply send thoughts and prayers to these families and communities, but the cycle–outrage, coverage, calls to action and inaction by officials–is redundant, ineffective and deadly.

Villanova students were in their infancy at the time of the Columbine shooting in 1999, children when the massacre at Sandy Hook took place in 2012 and teenagers in the wake of Parkland 2018. Often called members of the “lockdown generation,” students in the Villanova community and beyond have only learned to adapt to threats of violence. They have not yet witnessed concrete prevention. In the 23 years since Columbine, little legislative action has been taken and countless lives have been lost to gun violence.

We can say “enough is enough” and repost Instagram graphics calling for policy and change over thoughts and prayers. These performances are positive and not without purpose. But they, too, will eventually be lost in the mass tragedy cycle unless they make tangible changes to how our society approaches and prevents gun violence. The hashtags will eventually cease, and the country will move on to the next week and the next news cycle until the next tragedy, unless we take charge and make change.

There is no way to undo the heinous acts inflicted upon the students and teachers of Robb Elementary, but we can prevent a massacre like this from happening to another group of children and their educators by taking action and electing officials that vow to protect their constituents. The Villanovan expresses its deepest condolences as an editorial staff to the family and friends of the victims of this horrid massacre and the community of Uvalde, and we implore members of the Villanova community to demand action and fight for change.