by Quinn Busch
Sunday, October 1, is a day that I will not forget. I was sitting in my room with my roommate Kodi, and we kept hearing sirens going past outside. Neither of us really thought anything of it seeing as we live a mile from the Las Vegas Strip and there are often crashes. But then we got a text to or floor’s group chat that read “active shooter at Mandalay Bay, everyone stay in the dorms.”
I have never felt my blood run cold like that; even writing this blog I am getting chills. I’ve always imagined what it would be like to be near an active shooter, but it was nothing like that. Kodi immediately called his parents to let them know that he was alright. We went out into the common area where the news was playing, and I brought my service dog in training, Risley. It was about 10:30 that we got another message from one of my good friends, who happened to be at another concert on the strip that night. She was trapped in a building and absolutely terrified, but I managed to talk to her and we got her home safely.
I did not make it to bed that night until 3am, and even then I couldn’t sleep at all. The administration didn’t cancel classes Monday morning, but I was only able to make it to one class, and it was terrifying: the entire campus looked like a ghost town. The next couple of days were really weird and uncomfortable across campus, and it was hard to leave my dorm room.
In the wake of this there were many vigils and services that were open to students. I went to a vigil on Monday night to light a candle in remembrance of those hurt and lost by the massacre and while it was comforting in a way, you never really understand what it was like to be present in the wake of such numbing loss until you look around you to see the faces of everyone gathered in remembrance and mourning. The people on campus and in the Las Vegas community came together to create beautiful memorials to commemorate the lives lost.
It has been incredibly difficult to cope with having been present for the largest mass shooting in US history, and even more difficult when you add homework and tests on top of it. One of the things that has truly been a life saver has been the resilience of the community here. Seeing people overcome the fear that they have every single day has been truly inspiring. For example, when I think about the LGBTQ+ pride parade that took place on the 20th of October, I am filled with joy. My floor marched in the parade, and although many of us voiced our concerns for safety, the turnout was incredible. Having that many people overcome their concerns of being in such a big group of people to celebrate their existence was so powerful for me.
I think one of the most important things I have gained from this experience is the knowledge that having a strong community surrounding you is key to being successful. Whether it is close friends that help you out when you need it, or a community that rallies around a common cause, community is the only sure-fire way to keep you connected and surrounded by love.