News and Events
Pepperdine Responds to the Tragedy in Virginia
The nation’s flags fly at half staff following the recent tragedy which claimed the lives of 32 innocent victims at Virginia Tech University. Within hours of the tragedy, members of the Pepperdine campus community gathered in Stauffer Chapel in prayer. “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, students, faculty, and staff of Virginia Tech,” said Andrew K. Benton, Pepperdine president. “It hardly seems possible that such a senseless act of violence can befall a university community and we continue to pray for those who lost loved ones and those who were injured on that terrible morning.”
At a time such as this, we are reminded of how fragile life can be. And because of the random nature of this act of violence, each of us may feel less secure in our daily routine. While no amount of preparation or planning can guarantee preventing this kind of rare attack, Pepperdine University’s Department of Public Safety and the University’s Emergency Operations Committee each have protocols for responding to intruder threats. Several leaders in our Department of Public Safety have been trained by law enforcement to respond to this kind of incident, and we have public address systems in our Public Safety vehicles to disseminate emergency announcements.
Our departments of Insurance and Risk Management and Public Safety began monitoring the tragic situation in Virginia as it unfolded. Information learned from the events on that fateful day may help improve existing protocols and plans. While we added an active shooter scenario to our Public Safety protocols and Emergency Operations Committee action plan several years ago, like all of our plans, we never stop updating and improving them. We will continue to glean information from this latest incident, synthesize analyses from experts in law enforcement, and update our plans accordingly.
When we see others suffer, we may experience an empathy that feels genuinely painful, and a number of resources are available to the Pepperdine community. Pepperdine’s Counseling Center has prepared information on the subject which can be viewed here.
The Counseling Center provides free, confidential services for Pepperdine students, including individual and group counseling; walk-in consultations; and psycho-educational outreach programming. The Center also offers psychological consultation to students, faculty, staff, or parents who are concerned about a student. To contact the Center, please call (310) 506-4210.
As each of us attempts to deal with this national tragedy in our own way, the mental health care professionals of the Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) would like to suggest the following resources.
The American Psychological Association (APA) offers guidance for discussing this event with children. Many in our community in their role as teachers or as parents will find the information especially helpful. There are also suggestions for discussing the Virginia Tech incident with college students.
Similarly, it is important to care for oneself while caring for others. The following information, also from the APA, identifies what to look for in the event that someone may be experiencing difficulty coping with a traumatic event.
Should you or someone you know be in need of psychological counseling, GSEP reminds us that Pepperdine Community Mental Health Clinics are located at our graduate campuses in Encino (818) 506-1678, West Los Angeles (310) 568-5752, and Irvine (949) 223-2570. Services are confidential and affordable. Faculty and staff may contact the Center for Human Resources at (310) 506-4397, or take advantage of counseling services available through Pacificare by calling (800) 999-9585. Please call for additional information, or to schedule an appointment.
Two additional telephone numbers to note are the Office of Chaplain D’Esta Love (310) 506-4275 and Pepperdine’s Office of Campus Ministry (310) 506-4504.