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Caitlyn Neal, Location: Shaw Residence Hall



You always think it’ll never be you. Until it is. Even now I still question it. There’s something in my memory that hasn’t clicked yet “That couldn’t have been me” I keep thinking to myself as I soon fall into a repetitive spiral of denial.

It couldn’t have been me who got sent the active shooter e-mail. It couldn’t have been me who attempted to barricade the door. It couldn’t have been me who got the several texts from my roommates to lock the door, turn off all the lights, stay away from the window, and hide because the shooter was suspected near my dorm. It couldn’t have been me texting my friends and family doing my best to reject the unfathomable possibility that it could be the last thing they hear from me. It couldn’t have been me trembling under a desk for four hours hearing the inescapable sound of sirens and seeing the constant red and blue lights shining through my blinds, who stayed under the desk even after the shelter was lifted with the anticipation of a scream or even a gunshot, who spent most of the night and early morning awake, and the rest drifting off into sleep only for my eyes to shoot open just about every 15 minutes. That couldn’t have been me. There’s just no way. But it was.

I was alone. I was terrified, more than I have ever been in my entire life. I remember within that first hour all I was thinking was “Maybe I shouldn’t have come here.” And it pained me for this conclusion to keep roaming in my head. I loved it here. I felt safe. I felt community with those I knew and didn’t know. But the ugly reality hits me.

This isn’t a reflection of our campus, it’s a reflection of our country. We are not the first and we probably won’t be the last. And part of me wants to tell myself to feel guilty. That I faced no physical harm. That I’m still alive. That I want to take 5 minutes or so to stop thinking about that horrible night and do something normal. That I’m “one of the lucky ones.” There were people in much worse situations than I was. Perhaps I was more fortunate to be here and share my story but truthfully, I’m not “one of the lucky ones.” None of us are. Nothing about this says lucky. Nothing about this says “on the bright side”… nothing about this says “at least.” Because the very least should be students not having to live in fear while pursuing their education. And as for the very most, the most should not be 3 dead. The most should not be 5 hospitalized. The most NEEDS to be 0. Not just here, but everywhere. Change can not be a might. It is a must. To my fellow Spartans, whether I have met you or not, we are in this together. Spartans will.

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