Life after a Campus Shooting

A Carolina student’s POV
Note: This post was written following the events at UNC-Chapel Hill on 8/28/2023. The opinions presented here are that of the author and not necessarily those of HAPPEE, Inc.

It would be a lie to say I’m not still in a daze, physically feeling the effects but mentally denying what happened to us on August 28, 2023. The three hours I was in lockdown with my graduate cohort in New West feels as if it was a fever dream, an event I cannot relive without questioning if I was really there. I’m not even sure if I was really present enough at the time to claim that I was there, but the aftermath was enough to assure that I did experience it.

I have heard many horror stories from fellow students about their Monday experience in classes on the following Thursday and Friday. Some were in Caudill [where the shooting occurred] and the Genome [Sciences Building], and I can’t imagine the fear they felt being inside those buildings, hearing the gunshots while being bombarded by professors to finish homework within the next few hours and to zoom into class if they could. That is a type of trauma that is hard for anyone who has not experienced to understand, and it’s a dark realization for all who did have to experience it.

A lack of understanding, however, does not equal a lack of love and support, but for many students, even now, we feel that lack from UNC. The throngs of emails offering CAPS support and emails from professors cannot change what happened, nor can it change the scars college has left on us. Scars can heal, but I want to say that before they do, it’s okay to be angry and upset over the situation.

I am still angry. I am angry at the fact I no longer feel safe on campus, that I feel physically ill every time I get on the bus to get here and every moment I am on campus. I am angry at the media for putting our lives at stake for a story and for portraying our Chinese community as a threat. I am angry at how we were caught in a limbo during the event, unsure of what was going on and who was hurt. I am angry at the people who only care about us when the basketball team is involved, that when one of us has lost all hope and decides that the only way to fix everything is to take another life it doesn’t matter as long as the basketball nets are fine.

Perhaps you feel that anger too. I want to repeat again that it is okay to be mad. Allow yourself to feel it, but don’t let it consume you. Becoming consumed with it won’t help you, though it does surely feel like it. Instead, let your anger exist. Acknowledge it, talk about it, make art about it, write letters and then rip them up, go for runs, hike, play with your pets or try to pet the dogs on campus, listen to music that helps you process it, anything that helps you get it out. Holding it in will always make it worse.

I wish I could offer you better advice. I can sit here and write this and say in the end time will heal all, but it will never remove what happened to us in the end. All I can say is sometimes there will be no sun or moon and you’ll be walking in the dark, but sometimes we’ll also be so illuminated that there is no dark, even when we know it is night. The road ahead may be long, but you won’t travel alone. Even in the darkness, someone will always be there, willing to hold up a light for you to see.

From your fellow UNC student and dog enthusiast,
Victoria Pickle

Source: WRAL News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *