The nation reacted in horror as students counted their dead by the dozens, all innocent victims of an indiscriminate attack violating the sanctity of the university campus.
Today, it's Virginia Tech, the site of a horrific mass murder in which at least 33 students are confirmed dead in a shooting rampage by an as-yet unidentified gunman.
In Iraq, universities struggling to operate in the midst of a war zone have been struck repeatedly by bombings, shootings, assassinations, and abductions that have left behind hundreds of killed and wounded, victims and forced thousands of students and professors to stay away, or even leave the country.
On Monday, the same day as the Virginia Tech mass shooting, two separate shooting incidents struck Mosul University, one killing Dr. Talal Younis al-Jelili, the dean of the college of Political Science as he walked through the university gate, and another killing Dr. Jaafar Hassan Sadeq, a professor from the Faculty of Arts at the school, who was targeted in front of his home in the al-Kifaat area, according to Aswat al-Iraq.
In January, Baghdad's Mustansiriya University sufferred a double suicide bombing in January that killed at least 70 people, including students, faculty, and staff. A month later, another suicide bomber struck at Mustansiriya, killing 40.
Kidnappings of students and faculty are another all-too-common occurrence on Iraq's campuses. Members of the univerisity community have been abducted and murdered for sectarian reasons, or simply held for ransom. At a Baghdad University, one student reported to Slogger that he was abducted by sectarian thugs working in cooperation with the National Guard Forces who were supposed to be protecting the campus.
In January, students reported that violent events had threatened students that attendance rates at Baghdad University had dropped to six percent .
Earlier this month, the Dr. Qais Jawad al-Azzawi, head of the Geneva-based Committee International Committee of Solidarity with Iraqi Professors said that 232 university professors were killed and 56 were reported missing in Iraq, while more than 3,000 others had left the country after the 2003 invasion.
In January, the Ansar al-Sunna, a militant organization, distributed leaflets at threatening students and staff with violence if they did not refrain from attending university until Fall 2007, in what may have been a precursor to some of the violent attacks.