The Mailman School community, together with all of Columbia University, responded to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, our outrage filtered through an understanding of how identifiable the victims’ experiences were. Both Columbia University Medical Center and Columbia University held vigils to remember the victims, each with a solemn recital of their names. In a message to Mailman School students, Marlyn Delva, Associate Dean of Students, outlined available counseling services, adding that a public health community is keenly attuned to “the dimensions of sadness generated by so enormous a loss.” Writing to faculty and staff, Dean Linda P. Fried wrote “As profiles of the victims begin to emerge, it is impossible not to see our own experiences in their stories — a night out with friends, an opportunity to dance, a moment to feel proud.” Spurred on by hatred, fear, and homophobia—and with easy access to firearms—the killer inadvertently showcased immediate areas of concern for public health research.
“While we often feel powerless in response to a tragedy this massive,” Dean Fried’s statement continued, “it is a comfort—and it is our commitment—to be part of an intellectual community that continues to push forward on understanding how we can avert this level of violent response in the future.”
Columbia University’s Low Library remained lit in rainbow colors throughout the week to honor all victims.