Editorial: As UCC tragedy fades from national spotlight, conversation must continue

The Emerald Editorial Board is composed of the 2015-2016 management staff and opinion editor: Dahlia Bazzaz, Kaylee Tornay, Kira Hoffelmeyer, Jack Heffernan, Cooper Green, Scott Greenstone and Tanner Owens.

In his response to the Oct. 1 shooting at Umpqua Community College, an exasperated President Barack Obama said the nation has become numb to such horrific mass shootings — that the reporting and reaction have become routine.

On the University of Oregon campus, however, the reaction was anything but numb. The community reacted in shock, fear, anger and grief. This shooting was a catalyst for a conversation that many campus members have probably engaged in before — but unlike other instances, the geographic proximity of this tragedy has left a wound that will take much longer to heal.

Amidst debate about safety and autonomy, we would encourage students to avoid one thing above all else: letting this conversation dwindle into odious silence like it has to this point.

A common mindset at this intersection is that nothing can be done to prevent violent people from obtaining guns and threatening public safety. However, we know UO is filled with advocates who passionately work to create safe spaces for dialogue about issues like sexual assault. We encourage students to parallel this effort so that our conversation about safety continues beyond the initial, emotional response.

A vigil will be held Monday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in the EMU amphitheater. It will provide us a chance to grieve as a community, to acknowledge the wrongness of what has occurred. But when we turn an eye to the future to decide what action should be taken to break the pattern of mass shootings, our opinions about our approach could quickly divide us. We would urge students to consider the complexities of this issue and avoid the binary argument that efforts can only be focused on guns or people separately. Rather, approach it as a combination of the two.

In this conversation, we want students to remember two things.

First, consider the humanity of your peers and the value of their opinions regardless of their stances on gun control. Additionally, avoid using the umbrella term of “mental health” to categorize violent acts, as it does little to pinpoint individuals in need and often deepens the stigma and shame that lingers in society with regard to mentally ill individuals.

We want our campus and others around the nation to be able to thrive in safety. In the coming weeks, the only way we can fail our brothers and sisters in Roseburg is to let the conversation about the significance of the shooting cease. In recent years, the student body pushed the issue of sexual assault to the forefront of conversation about campus security. We believe that passion can have equally tangible effects if students apply it to the issue of preventing mass shootings.


The Emerald Editorial Board

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Jack Heffernan

Jack Heffernan