Skip to content

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.