Northeastern helps Boston heal

(This article was updated Monday morning at 9 a.m.)

Friday’s cap­ture of the second sus­pect in the Boston Marathon bomb­ings capped a har­rowing week for the Boston area. Throughout the week, the North­eastern com­mu­nity came together in many ways to sup­port each other, as well as be part of the relief effort for those directly affected.

With a “shelter in place” order in place Friday in Boston, the Northeastern’s public safety offi­cials kept the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity updated all day via NU Alerts. Public Safety, Dining Ser­vices, and Stu­dent Affairs staff also worked throughout the day Friday, including deliv­ering meals to Stetson East and Inter­na­tional Vil­lage dining halls.

In a university-​​wide email Sat­urday, Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun thanked all uni­ver­sity stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff who pro­vided sup­port in count­less ways—from the moments after the bomb­ings at the finish line through the suspect’s cap­ture on Friday evening.

“It has been a tumul­tuous week, but together, we per­se­vered. Throughout the week, the resilience, and unshak­able char­acter of the North­eastern community–and our entire city–has been on full dis­play,” Aoun wrote. “Together, we’ve been–and will con­tinue to be–Boston strong.”

Pre­ston Croteau is the res­i­dence director of West Vil­lage G and H. His Friday began at 3:30 a.m., when he received a text mes­sage from North­eastern alerting him to the news. Over the course of the day, he responded to con­cerns from both par­ents and stu­dents and facil­i­tated the delivery of boxed lunches to hun­dreds of first-​​years who live in res­i­dence halls without kitchens or dining facilities.

The Depart­ment of Housing and Res­i­den­tial Life responded to the campus lock­down in exem­plary fashion, Croteau said, adding that it has “a lot to be proud of.”

He also praised North­eastern stu­dents for fol­lowing Mass­a­chu­setts Gov. Deval Patrick’s request to stay in doors. “I hon­estly thought I was in a scene from a movie,” Croteau said, refer­ring to the university’s vacant campus, “but I was pleased that stu­dents were respectful and calm and coop­er­a­tive throughout the day.”

Brian McCarthy, a first-​​year biology major from Marl­bor­ough, Mass., hun­kered down in Smith Hall. He appre­ci­ated Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to keeping the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity informed via text and email. “It was helpful to hear from the uni­ver­sity,” said McCarthy, who dis­cussed his expe­ri­ence on Monday morning en route to a final exam. “It was reas­suring to know that that they were keeping us safe.”

Early Friday morning, Taylor Dobbs, a senior jour­nalism major, joined another jour­nalist and pho­tog­ra­pher as they fol­lowed police activity to the scene in Water­town, Mass. Dobbs said he was one of the first reporters in the area at the time and tweeted for sev­eral hours about what he saw and heard during a tense time period he described as “scary and con­fusing.” He returned to his Back Bay apart­ment later Friday morning and fol­lowed the day’s events on tele­vi­sion and Twitter.

“I spent much of day coming to terms with the real­iza­tion that I’d just cov­ered a huge national story,” he said. “It was very sur­real.” Dobbs also com­mended the North­eastern public safety offi­cials for their reg­ular updates to keep the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity informed.

Dozens of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dents have banded together to lend their time, exper­tise, and com­pas­sion to the relief effort fol­lowing the Boston Marathon bomb­ings, which killed three people and injured more than 170. Among those injured were three North­eastern stu­dents and two parents.

Northeastern’s relief effort began in the imme­diate after­math of the attack, with fac­ulty and stu­dents helping bombing vic­tims in a med­ical tent at the marathon finish line. Other stu­dents have helped out in dif­ferent ways, from orga­nizing fundraisers for vic­tims to bringing food to secu­rity offi­cials who patrolled the crime scene.

Fourth-​​year nursing major Car­o­line Smith vol­un­teered at the marathon for the second con­sec­u­tive year, set­ting up shop one block behind the finish line. She had orig­i­nally planned on giving out wheel­chairs to fatigued run­ners, but ended up helping emer­gency med­ical tech­ni­cians make their way to vic­tims of the twin bombings.

Helping first respon­ders kept her mind off the attack, but only until the next morning. “I was really upset,” said Smith, who praised Northeastern’s honors pro­gram for offering sup­port ser­vices to those affected by the tragedy. “It was horrific.”

Like Smith, Lindsey Martin used her nursing exper­tise to help facil­i­tate the care of bombing vic­tims. After the attack, she arrived at Tufts Med­ical Center, where she works as a reg­is­tered nurse when she’s not taking classes in the graduate-​​level acute care nurse prac­ti­tioner pro­gram.

“A sense of the unknown was hanging over every­thing,” Martin explained, noting a bomb scare at the hos­pital. “I just jumped in to see what I could do.”

In the hours fol­lowing the attacks, North­eastern public safety offi­cials coor­di­nated with Boston emer­gency respon­ders to assist with the response effort, and uni­ver­sity staff reached out to mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity known to be involved in the marathon.

The North­eastern com­mu­nity came together at a campus vigil on Tuesday after­noon to pray, sing songs, and reflect on the tragedy. “It’s impor­tant in great moments of hurt and pain that we rally around those things that strengthen us and lift us up,” said Robert Jose, asso­ciate dean for cul­tural, res­i­den­tial, and spir­i­tual life.

Brothers in Northeastern’s oldest fra­ter­nity, Beta Gamma Epsilon, live on Com­mon­wealth Avenue, just a few blocks from the bombing site. On Wednesday at 6 a.m., about 10 fra­ter­nity mem­bers cooked and dis­trib­uted break­fast bur­ritos to state police and National Guard mem­bers who kept watch over the crime scene.

“This is our back­yard, and I walk by the [bombing site] on a reg­ular basis,” said Andrew Waite, pres­i­dent of Beta Gamma Epsilon and a third-​​year mechan­ical engi­neering major. “We wanted to show our appre­ci­a­tion for the hard work and dili­gent efforts that are keeping mem­bers of our city safe.”

John Rahman, a grad­uate stu­dent from Nor­well, Mass, has begun orga­nizing a relief fund for vic­tims of the attack and plans on dis­cussing the logis­tics at a meeting this week.

Rahman has a his­tory of helping those in need. After a mas­sive 8.9 mag­ni­tude earth­quake rocked the north­east coast of Japan in March of 2011, he orga­nized a fundraiser and donated the pro­ceeds to the Amer­ican Red Cross.

“I really like helping people,” Rahman said. “It’s just in my nature to do so.”

Anthony Bis­sell, a doc­toral stu­dent in the biology pro­gram, is also raising money for bombing vic­tims. He launched a web site selling hand­made “Love Boston” wrist­bands, the pro­ceed for which will go to the family of Martin Richard, the 8 year-​​old boy who was killed in the attack.

“I wanted to do some­thing that would make a per­sonal impact,” said Bis­sell, who has already sold about 20 wristbands.

Greg St. Martin con­tributed to this story.