Intro in a 6 Part Series

Editors note

School shootings have become a morbid routine. Families receive condolences for lost loved ones, media writes stories on the who, what, and where, and eventually interest declines and the attention of the public moves on. Nevertheless, the people and places affected by these tragedies remain altered forever, and the cost for the communities affected is staggering.

Schools utilize different strategies for dealing with the sites involved with these shootings, none of which offers an easy path forward. The aftermath involves years of work to restore, alter, or remove the buildings affected. The significance of these sites adds to the tension that often accompanies public decisions, and the decision-making process for those responsible for these sites is fraught with uncertainty. Making the needed changes is costly, often running into the millions of dollars, and a shocked and grieving community must overcome these obstacles.

The first week of February was National Gun Violence Survivors Week, which is a time to honor those whose lives were lost or forever changed. We wanted to tell the story of the expensive and difficult changes that must be made to the sites of shootings as a way to remember those affected by these tragedies, including those who must handle the emotional, logistical, and financial chaos that form the aftermath of a shooting. Schools repaint, renovate or even remove entirely the buildings where shootings occur. Making the decisions regarding their individual buildings involves a herculean effort and reflects that the struggles faced in each unique situation are nearly unbearable for both staff and students. Perhaps by telling these stories we will be able to understand how communities heal, and thereby better understand our own story.

— Owen Cherry
 UCC student and shooting survivor
The Mainstream Managing Editor

By: Boone Olson

Letter to the editor

When I first heard about the UCC shooting, tears flowed about all the families who were exposed to such a cruel and unfair side of today’s world — a disgusting face of gun violence. I’ve witnessed a shooting … the shock, the screaming, the running, the chaos, the wailing, dead bodies, others shot and hurt, the blood. Nobody should have to absorb that, let alone young people. I couldn’t un-see my friend bleeding out in my arms. I couldn’t have rebuilt without the therapy I sought out after overcoming the lie that the black community doesn’t need professional help, we just have to “snap out of it”.

In real life, guns and death are radically different up close than in games and films or on YouTube and Facebook. There is zero glamour in watching your friends get shot, human beings get shot – period. There’s no button to click away from the reality of brutal truths. It’s an unspeakable moment to watch another person, loved or unknown, die or taken away by ambulance. Nobody in the presence of violence walks away unscathed.

How can the “invisible” fallout costs of the shooting be counted? Substance abuse, suicide, and opioid overdose statistics are already tragically high in our state. Trauma has been linked to overeating, self-injury, relationship damage and/or indiscretions, job loss, isolation, and decrease in church attendance and faith practice. I am not alone in losing someone I love senselessly, then contemplating how to take away the pain and anger, be it for an hour or for the foreseeable future.

Affordable, permanent, and accessible drop-in counseling should be prevalent in Douglas County to take such issues head on and address them in a powerful way, that is both impactful and efficient. Compassionate and swift care and attention has a way of preventing the worst from manifesting.

Thankfully, counselors were available for free that day. Many Douglas County residents have to wait several months to secure ongoing mental health and substance abuse providers; I did. I am proud to be in the company of the UCC Human Services majors striving to make an impact in the community over the years. In the meantime, may all those in need have the means and resources to help them process through day-to-day lives as they too rebuild.

I can’t imagine the extent of the array of costs surrounding monetary aspects of the shooting. Did the traumatic impact on returning students, new students, recruited students, and instructors, cause monetary hits for UCC? Has it affected student retention? Where are they now? student check-ins? Do things like falling grades and rising absences that stem from ill addressed symptoms linked to trauma have a line item on the “rebuild budget” as necessities – not optional if there’s enough funds left?

–T. Krone, UCC student

For part 1 in this series click here