Art by Caitlin Roark
With the one-year anniversary of the Borderline Shooting and the Woolsey Fire approaching, Student Affairs has planned a number of events to give students a space in which to remember and grieve. The events are detailed in an email sent by Student Affairs on Oct. 16.
During this time, grief is not the same for everyone. While communal expressions of remembrance and healing are helpful for some students who enjoy company and conversation during a particularly difficult time, others may be more comfortable processing with a small group of friends or even alone.
The tragedies of last fall hit each Pepperdine student differently. Some knew victims personally, some were left without a place to live, some supported friends who were grieving. No matter where students find themselves in November of last year, one’s natural response to trauma is acceptable. The Pepperdine community should never try to standardize an emotional process or forget that every person in the community has their own ways to cope with trauma.
Now, a year later, as Pepperdine reflects on how loss has affected each person, let’s continue to be aware of everybody’s unique response to trauma, and let’s honor our own needs, too. Expressing grief can be an important part of our healing process, but only if it manifests itself in ways that aren’t forced, don’t fear judgment and come naturally.
Whether one is compelled to attend campus events, practice private processing with a friend or spend a day at the beach all alone, people should feel no shame for the way they heal, and support others as they do the same.
Emotional trauma, unlike most injuries, does not always heal in a linear way. The effects of trauma can disappear and reappear again and again over a lifetime, and there is no shame in still struggling long after a tragedy has passed. That being said, this campus should be cognizant of those in the student body who are still coping with The Borderline shooting and Alaina Housley’s death.
Those who were further removed from the tragedies of last fall can be strong for their classmates who are still suffering. By being sensitive to one another, each person in the community validates the pain of last year, and honor Alaina as best as we can.
In general, memorializing tragedy can help many find closure and stay connected to the past in a safe way. It is also important to remember the events of last year because sometimes people have a tendency to forget difficult things. A large portion of the student body were forever changed by last fall, and we would be doing them a disservice to isolate last year to the past when it is still a part of many people’s present.
For the freshmen who did not experience last fall’s tragedy, and the juniors who traveled abroad, this is an opportunity to learn and listen to the stories of your peers and foster an environment of compassion. The term “campus involvement” is not limited to intramural sports and club convo. To be truly involved is to immerse yourself in the fabric of the campus, even the painful parts.
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