Technology may bring horror, but also healing

Former student body President Frank Harrison wasn’t just fighting for technology Monday. He was fighting for something that keeps members of his generation united.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Harrison joined five other student body leaders from Florida for a conference call with State University System Chancellor Mark Rosenberg Tallahassee to endorse a bill that would authorize student-paid technology fees in Florida. Those fees would not be required and would be limited to $10 per credit hour.

Events in Virginia changed all that. The bill that was merely an outcry by students for access to newer technology on campus may have become something with a much higher purpose.

After the tragic events in Blacksburg, on-campus technology was credited not only with conveniences such as e-mail and word processing, but also with keeping students together in the face of tragedy. In fact, the largest headline on the cover of Wednesday’s Oracle read, “Students turn to Internet to comfort, cope.”

USA Today said, “The signposts on Gen Y’s road to maturity have been a somber directory of tragedy shared. The Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine, September 11, the space shuttle disasters, Hurricane Katrina and now Virginia Tech.”

Not to mention this generation sees those catastrophes much more clearly than any preceding. Gen Y watches tragic events unfold on the news – in HDTV, in many cases. When tragedy strikes, it is omnipresent on the Internet, to which Gen Y is nearly uniformly addicted.

But the same technology that brings Gen Y horrors from around the world is also providing an instantaneous social wellness support system that helps them cope with what they see. MySpace, Facebook, instant messaging services, e-mail and cell phones are all making it easier for students to deal with that emotional trauma.

To not feel alone is very important when people are dealing with fear, anxiety and stress. It is that loneliness that technology can help to prevent.

So kudos to Harrison. He ostensibly only sought faster computers and more technological services. By chance alone, Harrison ended up fighting for something far greater and something worth far more than a $10 per credit hour fee: The emotional well-being of his fellow students in the face of tragedy.