I want to first and foremost say that this was a false alarm on our campus. A student had suspicions about sounds and called 911. It was frustrating at the time, but it was better to be safe rather than sorry. That being said, for about 30 minutes, we all believed the threat to be VERY real. In those 30 minutes, these are the thoughts and feelings that ran rampant in my mind. These are by NO MEANS the things that every student went through during this time, but, upon talking to my friends, I realized that I wasn't alone. I'm not trying to politicize this nor am I trying to up or down play what occurred. I just am using this as an outlet for what occurred.
I was at dinner with my best friend when I noticed the boys at the table next to me abruptly standing up. One of them said something along the lines "Did you see your phone" to the boys next to him, and I didn't think they were friends, so I also randomly decided to pull my phone out and saw the alert. I didn't even know how to react. This was something that I'd seen on the news but never imagined would happen at my school. I didn't even know how to react, which led to my next step...
Fight or Flight
What do we do? My friend and I were in the dining hall, but we were only a few buildings away from our apartment. We jumped back and forth between do we stay put or run for it. Everyone was standing at this point, looking around and also trying to decide what to do. Some were clearly scared and wanting to run, while others seemed extremely agitated about being barricaded into the room. Once the employees had gotten into action, however, doors were locked and no one was allowed to leave, so the next emotion kicked in.
We were in a dining hall surrounded by windows. My friend and I sat against one of the walls and linked arms. I called my mom, and that was it truly hit me what the situation was. I had to tell her, through tears, that there was a shooter on campus. I wanted the comfort of my family in that moment, but I also wanted to be sure I got to say I love you. (Some dark thoughts, like I said. A scary 30 minutes) I genuinely didn't know what to do with myself in those moments.
This one was occurring simultaneously with fear. I felt COMPLETELY out of control. I was in a place where I didn't feel safe, and I had NO idea what was going on outside of that room. I wanted to do or know something to be back in control of everything.
The feeling of a weight being lifted was incomparable when we got that all-clear text. For 30 minutes, we had all been so on edge and in the dark, but we were now told we were safe again. Almost immediately, everything fell back into how it is every other day. This weird, unimaginable situation was over, and it was an odd roller coaster of adrenaline.
This one doesn't occur to me, but I know that a LOT of people did still feel a great deal of fear after the fact. There was a palpable sense of unease the rest of the night. I went for a walk with my friend, and there was almost NO ONE out and about. It was eerily silent. The next day, the counseling center was extremely full, and it was still clearly a concern to many people. Even as I write this, people are still worried about everything that occurred. Even though there was never a true threat, the thought that there could have been was enough to put things into perspective for a lot of people.
Like I said when I started, this isn't wide reaching. This is, for the most part, what I experienced in those 30 minutes. Do with this what you will, but understand that there are certain precautions that could be taken could make all the difference. I am eternally grateful to how Villanova handled everything, and I feel just as safe today as I did a week ago.