Letter from the Editors: Response to University of Virginia Shooting


Brian Luppy/ Villanovan Photography

Villanova has appointed a new Vice President of University Advancement.

Editorial Staff

Late Sunday evening, three students from the University of Virginia were shot and killed. Those whose lives were taken prematurely include Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry, all of whom played football at the university. 


Two other students were wounded and remain in the hospital. One student is in critical condition, and the other in good condition. Only one of those students has been identified: Michael Hollins, another football teammate. 


As Americans have become accustomed to, messages of hope, peace and prayers have flooded social media and news outlets.


Jay Wright, former Villanova men’s basketball head coach, shared his thoughts via Twitter on Monday.


“We are thinking of all those effected by these tragic events at UVA,” his tweet read. “Thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost – may they Rest in Peace.”


The messages may come with good intentions, but we must recognize as a nation and as community members of a fellow American university that thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. Lives that have barely begun continue to be taken day after day.  This tragedy is one of 68 that have occurred this year on school grounds. 


There seemed to be hope of better gun reform following the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act previously this year. The bill made changes to federal firearms laws, including expanding background check requirements, expanding existing restrictions and establishing new criminal offenses. Funding was also designated toward mental health services particularly in schools, with the intention to keep children safe in the place of education. 


Yet, it seems to have failed the students at the University of Virginia and the 68 other schools that have experienced gun violence and death this year. It is evidence that the policies we put hope and stock in are not as effective as we think. 


As reports roll in about the suspect in custody for the UVA tragedy, we continue to try to make sense of how another tragedy could occur when warning signs were evident. It was announced that the suspect had been brought to the attention of campus authorities in September when he told an individual unaffiliated with the university about possessing a gun.  


After a threat assessment, it was uncovered that the suspect had been involved in a criminal incident involving a concealed weapon violation in February of 2021. The suspect failed to report the incident to the University. In addition, the suspect also was involved in a hazing investigation on campus that never reached a conclusion. 


Again, we ask ourselves, with all the evidence presented, how can such a suspect go unchecked? These incidents need to be taken more seriously, followed up on and acted on accordingly. We cannot go on as a nation only reacting to these events. We must instead become proactive and take severe precautions to protect innocent lives. 


The victims do not end with the three killed and two wounded. Students at the University of Virginia were sheltered in place for as long as 10 hours. Students shared images on social media of classmates hiding in basements, classrooms and dorms. Some even said they felt so unsafe to even attempt going to the bathroom. 


Eva Surovell, a senior and the editor in chief of The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia’s student newspaper, told the New York Times about the experiences of students on campus.


“People are stuck in the libraries, they’re stuck in academic buildings, they’re stuck in you name it,” she said.


Students from Villanova’s Class of 2023 may recall the unshakeable and terrorizing feeling of getting a shelter in place text, email or alert of an active shooter situation. On Sept. 2, 2019, a student had accidentally mistaken a bang in a freshmen residence hall as a gunshot. 


The first alert came in at 5:36 p.m. The original text alert read, “ACTIVE SHOOTER Incident Warning: ACTIVE SHOOTER on VU campus at St. Monica Hall, Shelter in place. Lock/barricade doors. More info to follow.” By 6:13 p.m., the incident had been resolved as a false alarm and the shelter in place was lifted. 


For 37 minutes, Villanova students lived in the fear that so many do while attending a school in the U.S. It is a feeling no one should ever have to experience, but when they do, it is undeniably never forgotten. 


We hope to never forget the lives lost on Sunday. Simultaneously, we hope to see actual change in policy and in reform. Even further, we strive to see a change in American culture around the ownership of firearms. There needs to be a great shift in understanding that lives must be protected first before weapons are.