April 22, 2014 4:51 pm

University students finding ways to cope, following stabbing spree

CALGARY- The shocking stabbing spree that took five promising young lives last week has greatly impacted Calgary’s post-secondary community.

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The attack happened just as final exams were getting underway, prompting the University of Calgary to offer students the opportunity to reschedule their tests, allowing more time to cope with the tragedy.

Nearly one thousand students decided to defer—which is nearly double the number who normally ask to write at a later date.

“We don’t want to have to put anybody through a long explanation,” says registrar David Johnston. “If they say they need a deferral, everybody who’s requesting one is getting approved.”

He adds that it can take time for people to process their feelings surrounding shocking events.

“A lot of students really won’t appreciate what stress they’re under, until all of a sudden they’re at their exam and realize they’re not ready for it. So, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them.”

Banners have gone up in the MacEwan Hall students centre, where people can write message of condolences for the victims. The university’s Wellness Centre is also offering counselling, with extended hours.

“What we’re trying to do is match the exam schedule, so that we’re here just before exams start and into that first hour of the last exam of the day,” explains Debbie Bruckner from the Wellness Centre. “Students who are struggling with ‘Can I sit through this exam? Can I be at my best?’ have a place to seek some support.”

The Woman’s Resource Centre is also busy making a thousand paper cranes, which some students are finding therapeutic.

“In Japan, it’s actually traditional that when you’re going through something tragic or challenging as a community to come together,” says Victoria Hirsche. “When you finish folding one thousand paper cranes, it’s just a symbol of hope and healing.”

Those who chose to defer their exams will write them sometime by the middle of June.

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