I started writing this post on Thursday, the day everything happened. Every time I come back to finish it, I realize that it feels like something’s missing. There’s so much I want to say, but don’t know how to articulate. I don’t think this event can be neatly wrapped up and maybe that’s why this post never feels finished to me. Regardless of what I write, it’ll never be enough. So I think I’m going to just post what I’ve written and accept that my feelings can’t be fully expressed in words and this event isn’t something that can be easily set aside.
But first, here is a fundraising page for the student who was critically injured during the shooting. He was shot three times and is still in the ICU. He’s been paralyzed from the waist down.
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I don’t know what to say. The unimaginable happened in Tallahassee the other day. I woke up to a flurry of text messages. The first one I saw was from a friend saying that the university had cancelled classes. I didn’t understand. I thought it must have been a prank. Why would the university cancel classes on a regular old Thursday? The weather outside was calm and cool, it just didn’t make any sense. The next texts I saw were FSU Alert texts. I saw them in reverse order. The ALL CLEAR text and the one before it — DANGEROUS SITUATION: Seek Shelter. I still didn’t understand. I grabbed my computer and saw Facebook flooded with posts about a shooting that happened at Strozier library. Three injured. The shooter dead. Hundreds of students at the library when it happened.
I was so disoriented, shocked, and saddened by this news. I had no words to process how this might have happened on my campus. The campus that I’ve called home. The campus where I’ve spent eight years of my adult life. The library that I visit frequently and spent many late nights when I was an undergrad.
The minimal amount of information available as first only led to more and more questions. Why? Why Florida State? Why Strozier? Why in the middle of the night? And the what ifs? What if my students were there? They had performance projects due on Thursday. They often use the library as a place to rehearse. What if they were doing last minute rehearsals? What if this had happened in a different building when I was teaching? What would I have done?
Days later and I’m still trying to make sense of it all. You think it’ll never happen to you or your campus; until it does. I feel like my home is no longer safe. I feel violated.
While I don’t want to diminish the impact that any on-campus shooting might have on the FSU community, this event didn’t happen in some far off corner of campus where only a few people go. It happened in the heart of campus, in a building that everyone uses. Strozier library faces Landis green a beautiful green lawn that serves as a communal spot where students sunbathe, study, bring their puppies, play football or frisbee. On the other side of Landis green is Landis dorm, which is actually part of a whole row of dorms including the dorm I lived in freshman year. Right next to Strozier is the Bellamy building where many of my non-theatre grad student friends have offices. But more than that, Strozier isn’t a library, it’s everyone’s home. People go there to study, to check out books, to have meetings, to get coffee at the 24-hour Starbucks. It’s Club Stroz, a central part of the FSU campus.
I’m thankful that the situation could have been much, much worse and only three students were injured, but should I even be thankful of that? Three students injured is still three too many. There were about 400-500 students in the library when Myron May entered the library. I’m thankful that FSU responded to the event so quickly. They came minutes after the first call went through. I’m thankful that none of my friends or students were involved. I’m also thankful for how the FSU community came together in the days after to show thanks to the FSUPD, the Tallahassee Police Department, and to comfort one another.
But even today, five days later, I don’t know what to say or how I’m supposed to feel. Should I be more upset? Should I move on and go about my business? As a community how do we move past this? It feels too easy to just pretend it never happened and return to life as usual. As a friend pointed out, by Friday the media had already moved on to the next big story but I for one, was still trying to process everything.
And now I’m out of words to articulate my feelings, so I’ll just end by showing some pictures that really hit home. I think seeing the books with bullet holes, the abandoned stuff in the lobby, and the doors boarded up were what made the whole thing real to me.