Virginia Tech Remembrance Day

Last Saturday was the ninth anniversary of the Virginia Tech school shootings. That day thirty-two innocent people lost their lives when Seung-Hui Cho opened fire shortly before 10 AM that morning. To this day, the Virginia Tech shooting is the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in the United States, and one of the deadliest by a single shooter globally.

Governor McAuliffe declared April 16th a day of remembrance in the state of Virginia. Flags were ordered to be flown at half staff. The day of remembrance honors those who lost their lives, the first responders who saved lives, and those whose lives were forever changed. There was a list of scheduled events that occurred last Saturday.

Beginning at midnight April 16th, a ceremonial lighting of candles was performed. The names of all thirty-two victims were read aloud. At midnight on April 17th at the end of the day of events, the light was extinguished. Aside from being a vigil for those lost, the candle  was meant to symbolize the light that came from the darkness that day.

With every bad thing that happens there must be some good. School security is stronger today than ever. The shooting also brought attention to major issues such as gun violence, the responsibility of college administration, how schools treat mental illness, and journalism ethics. Most important, that day people showed sides of them most never see. There were raw emotions demonstrated and acts of kindness that do not occur on a regular day. On that day no one looked at age, sex, or skin colors; they were all family grieving together.

At 9:43 AM Saturday morning, the time nine years previously the first shot rang out, the Capitol Square Bell Tower rang thirty-two times, one for each of those who died that day. The rings were followed by a moment of silence.

After the moment of silence was performed, it was time to run. There was a free run following the remembrance ceremony. 10,300 people ran 3.2 miles Saturday. The first 6,000 were given t-shirts with the phrase “Ut Prosim” across the chest which translates to “that I may serve.”

Governor McAuliffe suggested that anyone who would like to give back in another way could donate blood. There were several different locations throughout the commonwealth who had donating stations set up throughout the weekend.  

Family and friends of those who were target that day nine years ago feared that their children would be forgotten. The families are truly grateful that Governor McAuliffe made Virginia Tech Remembrance Day and officially recognized holiday. Governor McAuliffe announced that he is dedicated to doing whatever he can in his power to assure events such as this do not happen again.

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Following Mary Lee

In 2012, OCEARCH tagged a female great white shark in Cape Cod. Ever since, Mary Lee has been a celebrity all along the East Coast. On Twitter, she has 90,000 followers. All day fans tweet at her asking for her to stop by, or even for advice. She has been titled the “Greatest Great White.”

Mary Lee is 3,456 pounds and is 16 feet long. Mary Lee does not follow any rules. Since being tracked, Mary has baffled scientists by her unique travel patterns. Before following the popular great white, scientists assumed sharks traveled in straight lines, relocating seasonally. Mary Lee turned those theories upside down.

Between 6:15 AM and 1:00 PM Tuesday morning, Mary Lee swam over 300 nautical miles. The path she swam resembled a bowl of spaghetti noodles. She is constantly all over the place. One Twitter follower commented to Mary Lee that if she were allowed on planes, she would have an impressive amount of frequent flier miles. Trackers on Mary Lee ping onto control towers located along the East Coast whenever her dorsal fin pops above water.

Since instillation, OCEARCH has followed Mary for over 25,000 nautical miles. Mary Lee travels the Atlantic Ocean swimming from Florida to Massachusetts making stops along the way. She spent Christmas in North Carolina, and last recorded splashing around 70 miles off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. Scientists are wondering if she is headed North to deliver baby great whites. New Jersey is known as a shark breeding ground.

Researchers are unsure if Mary Lee travels alone or with friends. OCEARCH tracks two other female great white sharks, Lynn and Mesa Jeanne. Lynn and Mesa Jeanne like to dwell around Ocean City, Maryland, but concidently have never interacted with Mary Lee. Most great white sharks travel in groups, or schools.

Last month, Jim Ware, the voice of @MaryLeeShark on Twitter traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience firsthand how experts tag great white sharks. Ware witnessed several great white males be tagged. Sadly, Mary Lee was not in the area. Ware has also used his social media platform to bring awareness to wildlife conservation efforts.  

You can stay up to date too with Mary Lee by following her on Twitter, @MaryLeeShark or watching her trail the East Coast through http://www.ocearch.org/profile/mary_lee.

George Mason University Searches for Law School Dedication

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing has sent Washington D.C. into complete disarray. Issues plaguing the republican party have worsened, strife between democrats and republicans has intensified, and the distrust apparent between republicans and the president has heightened.

This week republican Senator Susan Collins broke the congressional stalemate by sitting down with Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. After their meeting, Senator Collins told reporters that Garland deserves a hearing. Collins explained that immediately following the news of Scalia’s passing, Collins revisited the Constitution, looking for a definitive answer whether a nomination should take place now or in 2017.

After carefully examining the document that dictates the supreme laws adhered by the United States, Collins came to the conclusion that President Obama has the authority to appoint a new Supreme Court justice. That responsibility is given to the president by article two of the Constitution.

Collins told listeners that it is unfair for Congress to refuse to hold hearings for Garland. It is impossible to make  judgement on someone that they know nothing about. Several weeks ago when the Senate went out of session, Susan Collins was only one of two senators willing to meet with Merrick Garland. During her most recent interview, Senator Collins announced now fourteen senators are willing to sit with Judge Garland.

Another large news story this week regarding ramifications of Antonin Scalia’s passing, is George Mason University’s struggle over what to name their law school. Donors suggested that GMU honor the late Supreme Court justice in the school’s name.

First, many voiced their opposition to remembering Antonin Scalia through George Mason’s law school due to his contentious persona. Scalia was known for speaking his mind without worrying about political correctness. Scalia had controversial opinions on gay rights, health care, affirmative action, immigration, and gender equality.

After the news broke that there was a possibility George Mason would name its law school after Scalia, people began to realize it would spell out a rather comedic acronym. The initials A.S. and abbreviation for school of law resulted in some chuckles on the internet. So far, eleven Virginia lawmakers have ruled against naming the law school after Antonin Scalia. In the 24 hours since the announcement, 1,000 signatures have already been collected to not immortalize Scalia.

Alumni and current students have voiced their concerns over if the controversial naming would negatively affect future job opportunities for them. Students are strongly opposed to being  linked to the late conservative Supreme Court justice. Many worry that $30 million donated from the Koch Brothers would influence the school to adopt a more conservative approach to their curriculum, mirroring Scalia’s political approach. Students hope that their school would be stronger than to be swayed by greed.