Nov. 7 Should Have Been a Nonacademic School Day

Erin Niemi, Special to The Echo

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In the past week, Ventura County residents remembered the “twin tragedies” of last year’s fires and the shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill.

Despite Nov. 7 being the one-year anniversary, California Lutheran University’s campus remained open and ready for business with classes continuing per usual.

“[Healing] has been rough for a lot of people. Especially people who were there or knew someone who was there, people who were up all night; it’s still right in the front of our minds,” senior Kate Cochran said. “It doesn’t feel like it happened a year ago. It impacts people in such a major way that we don’t even realize. Through the year some people weren’t thinking about it as much, but this week it’s on everyone’s mind.”

While Cal Lutheran does not have a school-wide attendance policy, professors create and enforce their own policies, many of which involve a grade penalty for not attending class.  On Nov. 7, some students were still expected to attend classes because of midterms, presentations or for general participation instead of attending community or school events remembering the victims of the shooting.

“Some professors, paricularly my psychology professors, have told us to ‘go to CAPS’ and that they are ‘all here for us’ but professors in other disiplines are not seeing it in the same way,” Cochran said. “It might be because they don’t know as much about trauma, but they are not necessarily promoting the idea that ‘hey there are resources on campus, places you can go, that we understand if you can’t be here.’ There needs to be that overwhelming sense of understanding.”

Last year, campus offices and administration sent emails detailing on-campus resources to use and emphasized safety and support. This year, no emails were sent from Cal Lutheran’s administration to students regarding the one-year anniversary.

Professors were asked to avoid putting tests or presentations on the day of the anniversary, a request that some professors respected and some didn’t, but these accommodations were not made known to students.

Other schools touched by gun violence continue to remember the fallen by creating nonacademic days on the anniversary of shootings. For example, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had a “nonacademic” day a year after the shooting on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida. Schools across the state had a moment of silence at 10:17 a.m. to honor the 17 people killed. Mental health officials and therapy animals were also there to assist grieving students throughout the day, according to NPR. 

The rescheduling of major midterms and projects away from Nov. 7 and the use of a nonacademic day would have allowed students to attend memorials hosted around Thousand Oaks, and helped to continue the strong spirit of community healing that began one year ago.

As communities affected by acts of mass violence have shown, it takes a lot of patience and support to walk down the long road to normality following an attack.

Survivor of the shooting at Columbine High School Kiki Leyba said there is no way to forget and that “trauma has a memory, we can feel it” on the shooting’s 20th anniversary, according to CBS.

With Borderline just passing its one year anniversary, it is imperative administration and faculty continue to openly provide support for those grieving and still enduring their own healing process, with an emphasis on providing resources necessary for those affected.