Take time to remember tragedy at NIU

Sunday was significant for all of us in some way. It was a day to celebrate love; it also was the anniversary of a tragedy that robbed five young victims of their lives and shook Illinois’ campuses.

On Feb. 14, 2008, a lone gunman entered Cole Hall at Northern Illinois University and opened fired. Five people were killed and 19 were wounded.

The victims are still on our minds, and their stories still have a place in our hearts. While the initial shock of such violence has faded, we live every day with the effects. Campus security was brought into the spotlight.

But we should not think this was an isolated incident, which involved a type of violence that would never directly intrude on our lives here. The gunman, Steven Kazmierczak, studied on our campus. That fact should awaken us to the need for vigilance.

The shootings at NIU are striking because they happened at a school in our state. The perpetrator walked our streets. Nonetheless, similar incidents have happened in the last two years; on Friday, an associate professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville was arrested for a shooting on that campus. Three faculty members were killed. Three other people were injured. It may not have been close to home, but the results are still devastating.

We should take these events as warnings, whether they happened two years ago or three days ago. Campus police have reminded us lately to report suspicious activity, and these incidents also testify for our need to do so promptly.

Remember to reach out to people as well. Endlessly asking whether a crime could have been prevented is senseless, but taking steps that could prevent another tragedy is imperative.

If you or someone you know needs help, turn to the counseling center.

We are adults; we must go to them and remember that it is strength, not weakness, to reach out for the help and support we need.

Remember Ryanne Mace, Julianna Gehant, Catalina Garcia, Gayle Dubowski and Daniel Parmenter. Read their stories and contemplate on how you can honor their memories, whether that means reaching out to someone who needs it or keeping an eye out for your classmates.