Moving forward after local college shooting

Elizabeth Stoeger, News editor

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On the morning of Oct. 1, phones were set ablaze notifying everyone about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

In the sleepy town of Roseburg with a population of a little under 22,000, shots rang out and chaos ensued soon after morning classes began.

A gunman, armed with six guns and more ammunition, shot and killed 9 students, leaving 9 others wounded.

A visibly upset President Obama gave a fiery statement to the press hours later saying, “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.”

The same afternoon, Linfield President Thomas Hellie sent an email to the community expressing sympathy and giving support to the people of Roseburg, “Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, and all those who are suffering due to this morning’s tragedy … our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by this tragedy.”

In addition Susan Hopp, Dean of Students, sent out an email saying, “As a college community, we stand in support of our higher education colleagues and have expressed our deepest sympathy to the UCC community.”

She outlined the support available to students who might be struggling, reminding students that there is counseling, a chaplain, and anonymous care reports available.

A few days later, Hopp sent a follow up email encouraging students to help. “We have been shocked by the scenes of violence and our sense of security has been shaken. We worry about how the survivors are doing as they deal with heartache, grief and anguish. No matter where you are, you can make a difference.”

Reaching out is one way to help, “You may be worried that you don’t know what to say, but don’t let that stop you … There are no magic words or slogans, but you can make a difference by being there for others. They may forget your exact words, but they will remember your presence and compassion.”

The shooting made national headlines and reignited the debate about gun control and mental health funding.

In his statement Obama reminded us, “We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months.”

He went on to say, “This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”

In addition to gun control legislation, media coverage of the Roseburg shooting also came under fire.

Alyssa Swanson, sophomore communications major, said, “I feel as though the media should focus on the victims and their actions and how we can makes sure this does not happen again.”

Following the shooting, those on social media started a movement to focus on the heroes and victims instead of the shooter himself.

Chris Mintz, an Army veteran, was shot seven times while charging at the shooter, protecting other students. His picture and story were widely circulated after the incident and he is regarded as a hero.

Makenna Jansen, sophomore Spanish and international relations major agreed, “I think that people people take tragedies like these and push them towards an agenda … the media should have focused more on how we can support the community and the families.”

Hopp said, “Let yourself be inspired by the courage of those who risked their own lives to protect others … It’s essential that you acknowledge the heartache and suffering, but don’t lose heart about the future.”

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence released a statement the same day saying, “We join the
rest of the nation in shock, horror, and grief as the news of today’s school shooting in Oregon continues to unfold.

What should have been a sanctuary for education and a symbol of bright futures will now become the latest memorial of victims lost to America’s gun violence epidemic.”

While those in Roseburg were still mourning the students killed at UCC, two more shooting occurred on college campuses in the days following.

Eight days after UCC, one student was killed and three were injured in a shooting at Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus.

On that same day, another student at Texas Southern University was killed. Bomb threats were also issued on several campuses the same week.

Amidst these other two shootings, Obama visited and consoled the families in Roseburg on Oct. 9, little more than a week after the UCC shooting.

He was greeted by protestors and gun rights activists but made his purpose in Roseburg clear, “Today it’s about the families and their grief, and the love we feel for them. And they surely do appreciate all the support that they’ve received.”

There is no clear way forward and there is nothing that will make this situation less heartbreaking than it is and will be for many months to come.

Let us take a small amount of comfort from President Obama’s words, “May God bless the memo- ries of those who were killed today. May He bring comfort to their families, and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And may He give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change.”