Yesterday was a terrifying day; a terrifying day to be a longhorn, to be a parent, to be a student, and to be a friend. Everything that we as young adults have ever been told regarding our safety was in question. “Don’t walk alone at night,” they said, but we were just walking to our classes at 1:45 on a sunny afternoon. “Always be aware of your surroundings,” they said, but the one responsible was one of our own who looked just like us. What happened yesterday on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus was unexplainable, yet people are attempting to point fingers. I don’t blame anyone attempting to grieve by placing blame on a particular group of people because it’s impossible to accept a situation as earth shattering as this by just saying it was nobody’s fault. However, the tragic loss of Harrison Brown yesterday could not have been prevented by the actions of a fraternity, a quicker response by President Fenves, or the ideals of a particular political affiliation.
Over the past 24 hours, I’ve never been more thankful to be a longhorn. The outpour of love that has filled our campus is unlike anything I’ve ever seen; from the GoFundMe account to the several organized vigils, it is clear that longhorns take care of each other, no matter what. While this compassion is not something to be ignored, the amount of hate I’ve witnessed on social media cannot be either.
People have been so quick to criticize. As a terrified student on campus, I also wish that alerts given by our university were sent quicker. I also wish that threats painted all over our homes were taken more seriously. I also wish that more was done to evacuate and secure our campus. But I refuse to label President Fenves and the rest of our administration as dismissive, selfish people who are only concerned with their reputation. As leaders of this university, their lives in a matter of seconds went from just a normal day at work to a reality TV show in which thousands watched with a critical eye to see what they were going to do next. Nobody wanted to act wrong; nobody wanted to publicize inacurrate information, nobody wanted to falsely intensify feelings of imminent danger, and absolutely nobody wanted to jeopardize the safety of any person on or around these forty acres. A change must be made as far as what a university needs to do in this situation, but thrusting blame with clenched fists and angry hearts is not the way to do it. Please acknowledge the difficulty of the handling this unexpected situation before you label anyone as ‘cruel’ or ‘egotistical.’
As more facts come to the surface, we are realizing that this senseless act was not to target any specific group of people. There will always be a motive that we do not know or could even fathom, but at the end of the day, placing the burden of a lost life on anyone but the person physically responsible is not a duty that any of us here on this earth are capable of doing.
Let us all put our fingers down and instead outstretch our hands to our neighbors - let’s all join together to positively pioneer change, to comfort those grieving, and to continue to love all of the things that make our university so great.
Rest in peace, Harrison Brown. You were loved by many and will be remembered positively by all.