For years, Yale has been known as the forefront of change, discussion and support. But how selective is the student body when choosing the issues that are being discussed?
On the night of Oct. 1, Stephen Paddock shot at a crowd of about 22,000 concertgoers on the Las Vegas Strip, killing approximately 60 people and injuring about 600 others.
On Nov. 5, Devin Patrick Kelley started firing bullets in the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing approximately 30 people and injuring about 20.
Over a month after the Las Vegas shooting, and weeks after the Sutherland Springs shooting, there has been no mass support to either fundraise or raise awareness for the deeper issues that surround mass shootings.
I and other students from towns affected by the shooting received emails from our head of college and college dean, but it was surprising to see that there wasn’t an email sent to the entire student body about the shootings.
There wasn’t a walk dedicated to the people who were affected by the shootings. We didn’t hold a vigil for those who passed. There wasn’t a fundraiser at Yale to help those in need.
Students have been sharing links to different GoFundMe sites organized by people in their respective towns. However, many students, clubs and administrators did not take the steps to discuss the issues at large.
The week of the shooting, the Las Vegas Yalies reached out to the Yale administration to start a fundraiser on campus that would be combined later with the GoFundMe campaign led by Steve Sisolak, the chairman of the Clark County Commission. However, with the time constraints and fundraising restrictions set by Yale, students were unable to organize a fundraiser, eventually just sharing the GoFundMe campaign on their social media pages.
Similarly, there wasn’t a fundraiser for the Sutherland Springs shooting; rather, students shared links to GoFundMe campaigns on their individual social medias.
What really seemed to make me, and others upset was the apathy of the Yale student body.
A student recalled, “I counted maybe three to four Yalies who talked about Vegas [on their Timelines], but their posts were singular and seemed to get lost by other posts about people stressing out about midterms, sharing their group performances or just countdowns to fall break.”
Derek Mubiru ’19 said, “I think here at Yale, it’s easy to see the shooting at Sutherland Springs as a continuation in a recent trend of gun violence in the states, to adopt that sort of holistic understanding. But people back home really felt like the city had been targeted, even marked in a certain way.”
It wasn’t that students and administrators weren’t aware of the shooting. Discussions regarding the shootings even seemed to exist within classrooms. Esteban Elizondo ’18, also from Texas, claimed that he hadn’t run into a person who was unaware of the shootings.
“Personally, I exchanged text messages with over a dozen people talking about the Sutherland shooting since I’m originally from South Texas and have friends who are from and live in the [San Antonio] area. The Vegas shooting was also mentioned in all of my classes … by the professor,” Elizondo added.
Conversations are happening in the classroom, and there is a sense of awareness among the student body that these shootings and killings are happening. Neither the students nor the administration have worked to bring the Yale community’s attention to Sutherland Springs or Las Vegas. The shooting in Orlando in 2016 and the shooting in San Bernardino in 2015 caused a more visceral reaction among the student body. Part of this could be because the victims of the Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas shootings weren’t part of a minority group.
Although the shooting in Sutherland Springs was noted as the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in Texas, one of the deadliest in the United States and the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship in modern history, we probably didn’t care enough to give a response to the shooting because it was rooted in personal, domestic issues, not political ones. Had the Sutherland Springs shooting targeted a mosque, our reaction probably would have been quite different.
The same thing is true for the Las Vegas shooting. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, but in a campus full of students who are always searching for minority oppression, very few people seemed to care about the hundreds of country music fans that were injured and killed.
Perhaps this tragedy wasn’t as important as the midterms and performances that we spent weeks perfecting, but this doesn’t explain why we have such different reactions to the same problems affecting different populations.
Grace Kang is a first year in Saybrook College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .