This Is The Reality Of A Campus Lockdown

This Is The Reality Of A Campus Lockdown

All I could think was: Why is this the life we have to live?

As I sat there, huddled in the back corner of my classroom, squeezing the hand of a girl I had maybe exchanged three conversations with in the past and watching people desperately try to get in contact with their loved ones, all I could think was: Why is this the life we have to live?

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s strangers rushing into the room as you stroll in for class, carrying with them their books and their backpacks and an anxiety you don’t understand.

It’s everyday small talk escalating, gradually then all-at-once, into a panicked, incomprehensible dissonance of “Wait, what’s going on?” and “Apparently, there’s an active shooter, I don’t know”, “Close the door, close the door!” and “We’re not sure how to lock doors in this building.”

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s your heart shrinking in its chest and racing as you see people crying hysterically into the phone, crying silently even though you never expected them to.

It’s you, crying, too, at the sight of others’ fear, letting yourself fall apart right beside the people around you and letting them lift you up because they’re somehow stronger than you are.

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s the Internet immediately knowing the name of the building you’re about to type in because so many people have already done the same.

It’s news accounts on Twitter making you feel voiceless as they report “all-clear” when you’re still cramped in a barricaded room with people praying and sending each other strained smiles, trying to reassure each other—and maybe themselves—that you are fine, that you will be fine, that everything will be okay.

It’s your breath stopping in your airways every time someone bumps their knee into a table leg or mumbles a little too loud. It’s the girl on her phone hearing that two people were shot. It’s a period of uncertainty, of not knowing what to believe.

It’s coming out of it the way you come out of a nightmare, with a heaving chest and the mantra running through your head that you’re all right now, you’re all right.

This is the reality of a campus lockdown.

It’s anger.

It’s anger as you move the chair in front of you, crouch down, and wonder: Why is this the life we have to live? It’s anger that we have been forced to normalize a life in which we fear to live. It’s anger that this has been happening for years and there have been politicians in Washington, simply watching— watching Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando— and letting it happen, over and over and over again.

Yes. I’m making it about politics. How could I not? It’s impossible to resist “politicizing” these events as they come—and they inevitably keep coming—because politics is this.

I am incredibly lucky that the campus lockdown we experienced at the University of Southern California was a false alarm. I am incredibly lucky that this is the extent of my personal connection to this issue because so many people cannot say the same. For those who have loved ones in Las Vegas, or have experienced similar tragedies in the past, my heart is with you. But it’s not enough for me to grieve with you. People in my position cannot send “thoughts and prayers” and expect the news we wake up to in the morning to change.

Yes, we need love. We will always need love. But right now, it is not enough. Right now, we need legislation.

The issue of gun control is not as controversial as we believe it to be. 90% of Americans support increasing background checks to close loopholes for gun purchases. That’s almost the entirety of America that wants, to some extent, stricter gun control.

But what we want doesn't matter in a democracy that is indirect only to its citizens and direct to the interest groups that feed it money in return for loyalty.

In the 2016 election cycle, the NRA collectively contributed over $50 million independent expenditures.

That’s $50 million to Republicans. $4.6 million to Senator Roy Blunt, whose “thoughts are with all of the families affected” by Las Vegas. $1.3 million to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who called the tragedy a "[shock]." $50 million to the politicians who create our policies, who represent our vision of the country we want to live in, who hold our lives in their hands—hands that are stained with blood money.

Our apathy and ignorance put them in these positions of power. Every member of Congress sitting in D.C. today is there because of us. And I want to believe that we can either push them out of those seats in 2018 or demand more from them because they owe us this, because their job is to represent us, because the message we stand for is not students hiding in a corner, calling their loved ones and trying to repress an irrepressible fear, nor is it fatal gunshots fired into an environment meant to celebrate life, because I want to believe that there is a world that is better than this, because I know that there can be.

I don’t want anxious phone calls and barricaded classrooms to be the reality of any campus. I don’t want concerts to become a place of danger when they have always been a place of safety and escapism. But unless we demand that our representatives listen to their constituents before they cater to their lobbyists, I don’t see a future that promises otherwise. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

The information to call your representatives is can be found here.

Cover Image Credit: Toronto Star

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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