Archive for Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NIU students return to classes for first time since shooting

February 26, 2008


— Students carried backpacks stuffed with books, headed in and out of class, grabbed something to eat and plopped down in the library just like always.

But there was nothing normal about Northern Illinois University on Monday. Not with white crosses on a small knoll and television news trucks parked around campus. And not with crime scene tape strung in front of the auditorium where 11 days earlier a gunman wordlessly pumped bullets and buckshot into a crowded class, ending the lives of five students before taking his own.

"You've got to move on," said Jonathan Brock, a 25-year-old studying industrial management, who was clearly not quite ready to do that as he looked for a spot to add his thoughts to message boards on which students have expressed their grief, faith and anger.

One after another, students said they were happy to be back at classes for the first time since the shooting, doing what they are supposed to be doing - if for no other reason than maybe it could take their minds off what gunman Steven Kazmierczak had done Feb. 14.

"It was something to do other than sit around and think about it," Lee Scott, a 21-year-old from nearby Sycamore, said after getting out of his sociological inquiry class.

In many classes, students used silence to turn down teachers' offers to talk about the shooting, relieved to talk computer science or economics. Students instead expressed determination to get on with their lives.

"That's not going to define my college experience, one day out of the three years I've been here," said Dan Beno, a 20-year-old junior from Beach Park.

But he knows he and his fellow students will long be linked to an act of madness, just like those students from Virginia Tech who have come to NIU to offer support.

One of students most seriously wounded in the attack, Maria Ruiz-Santana, was to be released Monday from a hospital in Downers Grove, doctors said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.