There isn’t much left to say at this point. By the time this letter is in print, it will have been nearly a week since Isla Vista was rocked to its core. And while the dust has slowly begun to settle, anyone can tell you that the collective hearts and minds of all residents, UCSB students or not, continue to stay with the seven community members who were needlessly taken from us.
There has been much of discussion among us here at The Bottom Line, and as a student news organization, we have attempted to make sense of our role in the coverage of this tragedy.
But it is as Gauchos that we speak now. And seeing as there has been far more than enough said about the horrendous event itself, our words go out to the community of Isla Vista instead. Over the past few days, we have witnessed some of the most beautiful acts of kindness and respect imaginable. The candlelight vigil was not only immensely symbolic because of what it meant to our campus, but because it was answered by vigils held at several other University of California campuses, demonstrating how all UC students are ready to stand in solidarity with one another. Vigils were even held in locations where UCSB students had gone—and still are—abroad, such as Granada, Spain.
There has been an entire week planned with activities meant to strengthen the bonds of the Isla Vista community. Professors and faculty used the day of cancelled classes to reach out to students in need and enter the difficult discussions of the week with them. Activists have made their presence known at the media hotspots, trying to create a quiet, peaceful space for those affected to grieve and heal. What the people of this town have done is remarkable, honoring those lost and the community that lost them instead of glorifying the actions of the person who set out to destroy that community.
That being said, it’s unlikely that this will be where the discussion ends. As we have already seen, this tragedy will be used in the discourse of issues like gender violence, gun rights, and mental health. There will be coverage that is appropriate and sensitive, and there will be coverage that is not. But it is our job as Gauchos and as residents of Isla Vista to keep the focus on those we have lost; for the true news story here is not about a killer, or even about a gun. It is about the people who mean the most to us, and how we will forever cherish those who have left us and become closer to the ones that are still here.
Isla Vista is still a beautiful place populated with beautiful people. We are incredibly proud of our fellow students and friends for what they have done in the face of something so appalling, and all of our thoughts and feelings join with you in memoriam. Let’s show the world how strong this community is.
-The 2013-2014 Bottom Line Editorial Board