Yesterday morning was a typical day. The leaves were falling off of the trees, ready for the fall crispness to settle in. Homework was on my mind in a pressing way. I was giggling with my friends about stories from the past. I had enchiladas for lunch. The day was my oyster. I was soaking it all in.
In the afternoon, my best friend and I decided to camp out in the library until dinner time. We both had things to study for, projects to work on, and online quizzes to take. We packed our planners and laptops and headed to campus from our sorority house. Campus was busy, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was Wednesday, nothing ever happens on Wednesdays.
My friend and I made it to the library, settled in near the front entrance, and opened up our laptops. Not five minutes after sitting down we received a text in a group message from our friend saying, “Is everyone in a safe place?! Potential active shooter at the UMC.”
(The UMC is the most populated place on my campus. There’s a dining hall, a coffee shop, the bookstore, the spirit wear store, offices, there was a job fair going on there during this too.)
My friend and I got the message at the same time and looked at each other at the same time in a state of panic.
We started to realize that everyone else around us was also getting messages, voices started rising from library level chatter to full force panicked conversations. People started running into the library from outside and other buildings.
Time froze. Everything froze. Everything felt unreal.
We hear about shootings way too often, which is absolutely disgusting. But we never expect that we’re going to be in that kind of situation, and when we are it’s terrifying and paralyzing and absolutely unreal.
The library was put on lockdown, and my friend and I moved from the front entrance area to a fourth floor classroom to hide and stay out of the main chaos. We didn't really know what was going on, no one did.
After they released us from the lockdown, my friend and I rushed back to our house. There were media crews, camera crews, and armed police everywhere. People were either absolutely silent or on the phones with loved ones. It was weird. I keep saying it was unreal, but it’s because we really felt like we were in a dream.
Later we found out that it was all a “hoax” (words used by the school) but it felt all too real to be a hoax. Everyone is still on edge, and no one knows what really happened. I am so lucky and thankful that nothing happened and that no one was harmed, but this situation shocked me — and my entire university — into realization that we’re not immune to this kind of thing. Obviously, you can’t live your life in fear of bad things happening, but it’s important to be aware of everything.
My friend and I didn’t know what the right thing to do was. Should we have gone home before they put the library on lockdown? Should we have waited longer before going home? Should we have gone to the fourth floor classroom at all? There were a lot of unknowns which I think was the scariest thing. I’ve never felt more responsible for my own actions before.
I’m not trying to scare anyone by writing this post, I just want to spread awareness that these kinds of things happen and it’s important to understand what to do if they do happen. Don’t panic, be smart, and don’t put yourself in any situations that you can avoid.
Most of all, trust your gut, I know you’re smart.
If you want to read more about this specific event here is a link:
Thanks for reading!