I graduated less than a year ago from University of California, Santa Barbara. I called and still do call Isla Vista, the beautiful ocean-side paradise for college students, my home. This weekend a tragedy happened, in which we lost 6 UCSB students and other members of the community were injured. We are all in mourning and in this time of healing it seems that the rest of the country can only focus on the shooter, instead of focusing on the people affected by this event.
It is in times like these, Elliot Rodger’s face has been plastered across the Internet, and every time I see it the wounds are reopened. I’ve seen articles blaming his mental illness, his worldviews, gun control laws, and society’s norms to justify tragic events that occurred. I, too, watched his videos and read parts of his manifesto. I, too, formed opinions on how this kind of tragedy can be prevented. This speculation, however, only sweeps the victims under the rug to bring attention to the person who caused the events, and it only contributes to glorifying the shooter. However, in this time what Isla Vista needs is to focus on mourning and healing collectively as a community.
I drove up to Isla Vista the day of the candlelight vigil, to see my friends I feared I lost the previous night and to offer support to the community, which I love so dearly. During the vigil, everyone, including friends of victims, fellow classmates, and even a little girl who resides in our college town expressed their feelings of anger and heartbreak over the victims. In this time where hope seems loss, everyone came together, regardless of whether or not they knew the victims in order try to begin recovering from this devastating event on our home. It was the most beautiful and surreal event I have ever experienced, and it reminded me why Isla Vista is so loved.
I felt compelled to write this, because I wanted to focus on how during these times of tragedy we need to remember there were lives lost and those individuals are the ones who should be honored. I did not personally know Katie Cooper, Veronika Weiss, Christopher Michael-Martinez, Cheng Yuan Hong, George Chen, and Weihan Wang, but I still mourn for the loss of my fellow Gauchos. You are all deeply loved and missed by everyone. You all will not be forgotten. In this time, I hope Isla Vista, alumni, and other former residents will continue to honor your memories and come together as a community to get us through this difficult time.