Students Reflect on Larger Lessons, Questions from Boston Bombings

Bombs in Boston. Boston Massacre. Explosions Shake Students. Marathon Ends in Tragedy. In Boston, Fear at the Finish Line.

These headlines and many others like them ran prominently on the front pages of college newspapers across the country the day after a pair of bombs caused deaths, injuries and mass panic during the Boston Marathon.

College media have since covered the manhunt for the bombers, the citywide shutdown and the initial legal decisions in the impending case against 19-year-old living suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The news outlets and their student readers have simultaneously been reflecting on the larger lessons and questions sparked by the tragedy and its aftermath.

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The main question University of Minnesota student Chris DePauw asks, in a word: Why?  He says the key is knowing where to direct that “why.”

“When tragedy strikes as it did [during the marathon], we naturally ask why,” he writes in The Minnesota Daily. “We often do this in the retroactive sense, wondering: ‘Why was this allowed to happen?’ … From 9/11, to Aurora, to [the marathon’s] nauseating horror, respectively, we question, ‘Why were they allowed to board the plane?’ and ‘Why was someone with a mental illness allowed access to a gun?’ and ‘Why was security so porous at the country’s most prominent marathon?’”

As DePauw argues, “I believe our proactive solution can be found by asking ‘why’ in the proactive sense. Why is it that these monsters are driven to kill so arbitrarily and massively?”

By comparison, in a staff editorial, The Daily Illini at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign contends our insatiable curiosity with the alleged monster Tsarnaev is misplaced.

“The suspect’s trial, his motives and his behaviors aren’t what the public needs to know,” the editorial shares. “What it needs to know about is the four who died, and the countless who have helped since … Those who, instead of running in a different direction, ran toward danger to help the injured. Those who stayed inside during the manhunt to make it easier for law enforcement to find the surviving suspect who was on the loose … Instead of continuing to focus on the perpetrators with anger and curiosity, let’s remember the people of Boston. Let’s immortalize the good rather than perpetuate the evil.”

In a related sense, Daily Free Press columnist Colin Smith writes that our desire for vengeance against evil should not overwhelm rational thought, including unfairly targeting the bombing suspects’ homeland.

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As Smith, a freshman at Boston University, explains, “America, as great a country as it is, has a propensity for fixing leaky faucets with a sledgehammer and a blowtorch. That is to say, we overreact … That’s why, when news came out that the two brothers [the bombing suspects] were from the Russian region of Chechnya, I got nervous. We can’t jump to conclusions and say the brothers were motivated by Chechen separatist groups. In fact, the main rebel group in the region has stepped away from the brothers, affirming they are at war with Russia, not the United States. Filtering these attacks through a Chechen separatist agenda makes no sense, and the last thing we need is another enemy.”

At The State Hornet, Alexandra Poggione reminds readers, in the end, there is no real explanation for what occurred earlier this month.

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As Poggione, a student at California State University, Sacramento, recounts about the scene that tragic day, “Runners’ legs were on fire — filled with lactic acid and alternately burning and aching with strain — when what some thought were fireworks celebrating their achievement exploded on the sidelines. This, America, is insanity. It is insane that people were killed at an event that holds up some fine athletes and physical fitness as pinnacles of humanity. It is insane how now some people fear these events — fear participating in an event that, in essence, celebrates life.”

Related

Boston Bombing Suspect: Former Classmates Tell Harvard Crimson He Was ‘Pretty Much a Friend to Everyone’

Boston Marathon Blasts: Student Newspaper Front Pages

Boston Marathon Blasts: BU Student Photographer’s Pic Picked Up by New York Times, AP, Reuters

Boston Marathon Blasts: Harvard Crimson Posts Running List of ‘Harvard Affiliates’ Confirmed OK

Letter in Boston College Student Paper: BC Professor Who Hates Running Vows to Enter 2014 Boston Marathon

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