The hour-long open forum lasted only 40 minutes. After brief opening remarks by Machen, student government representatives asked him some serious questions, but one topic stood out among the rest.
"It's hard not to start, so I'm going to, with the events that occurred in Blacksburg, Virginia," Machen began.
Then after breaching the subject, it sounded as if that was also where Machen wanted to end it. It was definitely on everyone's mind according to sophomore Loc Le, however.
"It wasn't really a big concern when I first came here, but after Virginia tech, everybody has that question, 'what would happen to us,'" Le explained.
Even before the incident in Virginia though, security was a priority for the University according to Machen.
"It's just on everybody's mind right now, so everybody's asking about it," he said.
In Northwest Gainesville, a discussion about easing people's concerns and security was held. Spencer Mann said the Virginia Tech incident immediately brought back memories of the fear that plagued Gainesville in 1990 during the Danny Rolling murders and those feelings reminded him of how important it is to discuss safety and ways to move beyond the pain.
"It's good to have a discussion, let people have the ability to hear a lot of perspectives on how you process such a tragedy like this," he said.
Security will continue to be scrutinized, but at the moment, Machen said U.F. has a responsive system, and he would not comment if any safety measure or future improvements were being considerred: "There could be."
The U.F. President was more forthcoming about other student issues, but Le said Machen's responses about security did not really ease students' concerns.
"He did touch base on that," Le said. "But he did not console students here on campus."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News
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