The 411 on College and Life Around Campus
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This interview was transcribed by Trint. Please excuse any grammatical issues as a result.
Here is the full interview:
Carly: Can you tell me how you found out and your first reactions, just your initial digestion of what happened in regards to the shooting?
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Sydney: So basically, I woke up at 4:00a.m. I think it was around then I heard my phone alarm going off and it was my best friend calling me who goes to UC Berkeley.
I was thinking it was really weird and kind of like well, it’s a three-hour difference. He knows it’s 4:00a.m.
I’m like, that’s really weird. But I was also just like my mind didn’t really register that it was weird enough to answer it. So, I kind of let it ring and it went away. And then he called me again. So, by that time I was like OK there’s definitely a reason why he’s calling me. So, I pick up I run outside into my hallway. My roommates didn’t wake up and he. And I saw that he sent me text before saying Sidney wake up you need to call me right now. There’s a shooting at borderline. So, I answer it. And I said what’s wrong. He says I’m looking it up right now but there’s an active shooter currently still going on at borderline. And borderline was what I knew, since I live in Thousand Oaks, as a bar and grill that pretty much everyone and their mother went to and who was in my grade or went to my high school basically everyone in our age group and then older people too would go especially on Wednesday nights. That was the college night. So, it was 18 and up so everyone went. So, when he said borderline I knew exactly what he meant. And he said told me basically the situation that at that point police still haven’t even gotten there yet. And it was still like brand new news coverage. So that’s when I found out. And so, I just spent the next hour until 5:00 a.m. looking on the news and seeing that like New York Times and CNN and it was breaking news.
Carly: Can you tell me about your initial emotional reactions? How did you automatically react, how did you feel, what did you think?
Sydney: I feel like it didn’t really set in for me like the totality of the situation until I woke up the next morning. Eventually I went back to sleep after staying up for an hour. Immediately when I heard about it I was completely shocked because where I live, Thousand Oaks, is rated the number like the I think fourth safest city in America by the FBI every year. And it’s just known to be so safe. And I think when Jordan told me I didn’t really understand what was going on or like the totality of the situation that that point only one person was killed so I didn’t really understand. I just got billions of texts from other people saying we were all right. Making sure that my friends back home were being OK and that they weren’t there. I have friends who I’m close to that were there that night and who almost went that night. So just a bunch of people checking in on each other and just being kind of struck by it. But it definitely didn’t hit me until the next morning when I found out that 12 people actually died and did being so far away from home when this was happening. Did that affect you.
But having something in your hometown happened while you’re so far away and there’s nothing that you can do to help your community it just really made me feel so inept like I feel like I was I couldn’t do anything to help them and I think that’s all I wanted to do- just be there for my loved ones.
Carly: How did you like being away from your family affect your processing.
Sydney: I basically called my mom and dad both separately. Pretty much every day which is obviously not something I do often. My parents I probably talk maybe once a week so I definitely called every day just because it’s was like me checking in on them because the day after huge fires broke out so I had to get their info and
my parents were evacuated and they had to keep calling me and asking me what I wanted for my room in case our house burned down
and all these things so I called them a lot and just to make sure that they were OK and they were dealing with it well. Luckily, they were being very strong and they were giving me updates and some pictures and being really like helpful with the situation and helping me because I think I was way more emotionally broken about it than I thought it would be.
Carly: And how did your friends both in Boston and all over the world help you help you cope?
Sydney: I’m very lucky to say that like I have such a supportive group of friends and a community here in Boston and be you because I so many people reach out to me and then the people who I know who go to schools in Boston that went to my high school that are from the same town as me. We all kind of linked up and just reached out to each other and said like hey we know that we’re in the community together. Like if you ever need to talk to someone that’s like they’re here. And so that was really nice and just like yeah, my friends here were so supportive and like we’re really there for me and I didn’t expect that I would need a support system as strong. And I’m lucky enough to say that I do. My friends back home were so, it was very comforting to talk to them about it about how they were dealing with the situation and I think it was just nice to know that everyone, everyone is dealing with it in their own time and not as well as they hoped.
Carly: How did your perspective change as time progressed with the shooting?
Sydney: I think within the first like within the week that the shooting happened I mean we had the first day where it was the number one trending topic on Twitter that’s literally everyone what everyone was saying and why everyone was talking about and becoming like a headline and all these celebrities coming out President Trump talking about it and then it slowly faded out of the news cycle and everything in know life goes on everyone. Some people don’t even know about it. Some people don’t even like place in the back of their minds. And as time went on too I was just trying to get through every day just like you know progressing with regular life things. So, I think I was just trying to like move on.
And I think that’s what I’ve ever since the shooting and now I think it’s been said probably it’s been a month or some like November 7th. Yeah, it’s almost been a month and since then I went on Thanksgiving I went on a trip and which is a really nice escape but I just now that I’m back I really want to keep like working towards awareness and I want to like force like changed my perspective into like an acting change about what how we can fix this kind of problem that’s been going on for so long instead of just forgetting about it and trying to move on ourselves.
Carly: Do you feel like you had a similar reaction that your friends at home did? Or was it different because of where you were located?
Sydney: You know that’s a good question. I think the most some of my friends that I was talking to about the situation are the people who are far away. So, my friends who I a friend who goes to school in New Jersey and a friend who goes to school in Northern California and he was dealing with the fires up there but he was also you know kind of far away in Santa Barbara. So, it was mostly my friends who were far away from home that were really were struggling the same as I was. And for the same reasons that they didn’t they hated being far away. And so, I think location really of like made it harder to cope with it just because we weren’t near the action we weren’t near anything that was going on. So, it made it really tough. But I also think too like I talked to a couple of my friends that were there and there’s still I think they’re still struggling with it as well. I think people deal with things differently and move on with things differently. And I’ve definitely noticed I think I worried that my friends at home they were dealing with it better. They seemed like they were happier in general. I thought, why am I not this happy? Just because I’m in Boston? But I think that definitely had a big impact on it.
Carly: Does the shooting still affect you every day?
Sydney: Yeah, I think. Yeah, I definitely think about it every day definitely comes across the mind and definitely about like whenever I’m stressed about something or whatever I think I think that definitely comes to mind. And since then I’ve wrote an article about it and I’ve been thinking about whether or not what to do with that article and whether or not I should try to publicize or post on my Facebook or not just to support. Share it with people just so that and
I’ve made it like a note for myself like on my dresser over there. I wrote a note to like call my senator and make change so I definitely feel like won’t make it a point every day to like at least remember how grateful I am I guess.
Carly: What was the most alarming if you could pick one thing what was the most alarming thing for you about the entire situation.
Sydney: I wish I really wish I could say that the fact that it happened in general was the most shocking thing because that’s I think that’s the saddest thing about it is that it’s not alarming at this point in our time and our culture. Is that a lot of people heard about this and was like OK that’s awful. Like that’s really awful. But we’re not surprised because things like this happen all the time. And I think I think the most shocking thing about it is really realizing now that it’s hit home is how fast this kind of thing fades from the public the media and everything. I really did not register that as much as you hear that all the time like we can’t forget these tragedies. We can’t do this. But then you really realize that once it’s close to your home and your personal really feels personally offended if people forget this thing I’m like no, this is my hometown.
These people in my community are suffering so badly these people should not be forgotten.
Carly: So, switching gears a little bit only right after this happened there were the fires did that affect your family.
Sydney Luckily not as much as it could have. So, my family did evacuate and they did evacuate to a hotel down in the valley like Woodland Hills area. So, our house and our neighborhood was not directly harmed by the fires luckily.
Carly: And so, after having to deal with the tragedy of the shooting how did you then cope with the fact that your family was maybe having to evacuate think about evacuating worried about your friends who were evacuating. How did that affect you? That it was on top of this other huge tragedy.
Sydney: I just felt so bad. I just I just really wanted. I wish I was there even though you know it looked like a war zone. All the pictures and everything it looked so awful from what I was seeing. But I really wanted to be there and not in the comfort of Boston and being so far away because I was like I’d rather be in it than so far away.
I just felt so bad for my community because there are now new stories saying that there are people who are at Borderline who survived it and their house burned down the next day.
Like all these things and so many people are losing their homes losing so many people died after the like through the fires alone as so many people had to evacuate. And it was it’s such a stressful time that not a lot of people in the country, I realize this now being in college with people from all over the U.S, a lot of people don’t know the process of like what it’s like to have a fire so close to you – what to do.
Like, what other than you know your graduation your diploma your photos your writing like what else? And so, seeing your friends have to stress out and like take their animals and make sure they have their belongings too and seeing you know people stuff to go to college the next day or so to go to class the next week like I just felt so bad for my community because I know that it could have been just so it’s been just so painful and it still is painful. People are still living and the results of it.
Carly: So, did your parents call you asking what you couldn’t live without?
Sydney: Yeah. My parents called me. I Think like Friday I think they evacuated once and then they came home and then they were told to evacuate again. So, I think that’s when they called me.
Carly: What did you tell them if you don’t mind sharing.
Sydney: Oh yeah. I told them basically I know why I couldn’t live without my high school diploma but for some reason I told them like I just got my high school diploma my cap and then my Polaroids I have like a huge collection of Polaroids from my past so I asked them to grab that I had like some weird little trinket mugs that I’ve had since I was a baby since I was born in my bathroom. So, I was like just grab that just for the heck of it. And then my travel journal just because it has all my writing from all my logs from all my trips. How is your family doing now?
Carly: So, how is your family doing now? They had to evacuate the house twice. The house, I’m assuming luckily wasn’t affected. So how are they doing now?
Sydney: My family’s doing well and like they’re doing. I think they’re doing what they can and still moving on going to school doing everything. Luckily, I mean I have a family that’s very fortunate and they also are aware that they’re fortunate to in this situation and I think we’ve been trying to do what we can to help and it’s kind of hard to.
When I called my Mom, and asked her what she thought about everything and like I was like Why am I not moving on. I feel like everyone at home is moving on. Are you guys moving on? She was like No it’s hard for me to get up every morning and go to work and act like everything’s fine and have people ask me you know what’s you know what’s going on in your hometown.
And I think my family luckily is dealing with it really well.
Sydney: I would say yeah.
Carly: How did the fires affect you day to day? Do they still?
Especially, unfortunately, in the Northern California fires that killed- still they are still finding dead bodies. You know there’s still estimated over 700 people missing. And I just can’t imagine being one of those people like a fire completely burned through an entire town within minutes like I can imagine. So, what happened was following the fires and luckily the ones in Southern California have either depleted or been contained or been really diminished by a lot. And right immediately after there’s been a month’s rainfall in California and usually that happens when that happens after a fire there’s usually a lot of mudslides. So, I think people are always on edge. I think ever since then and unfortunately luckily with my community and my family like the one we live in like but people are not as directly affected but there are tons of people that are still without homes that can’t come to college or can’t come to class because they don’t really, they’re living in a hotel because they don’t have anything else right now. So, it’s really still tough for the people of California. And I think what’s really tough is when we have someone like Donald Trump who made that really ignorant tweet that really set everyone off about threatening to reduce the budget for a wildfire protection and yes like the governor Jerry Brown worked with Donald Trump and they agreed that yes we need to work around our forest management and the way that we manage our fire containment or controlled fires because California doesn’t do that enough but it hurts so much when people are so many people are suffering in the state.
And then you have someone who’s supposed to be leading you and supporting you and comforting your country and threatening to have this kind of problem happen again. Like really hypocritical. It’s really ironic. I think it just makes the situation ten times worse. And so, I think the people of California are still living with the pain every day.
Carly: How was it to be with your family because you had Thanksgiving break right after all this happened. How was it to spend time with your family right afterwards?
Sydney: It was really nice. It was honestly so relieving. Especially having my mom and my dad like my little brother and I will text and be like this is awful and everything but I think my little brother was handling really well. So, I didn’t feel the need to call him and be like How are you doing. You know my mom and I I would just like bawled on the phone to my both my parents like multiple times. So, I think seeing my parents what I am like over Thanksgiving and spending time with them was kind of like a breath of fresh air. And it was like even though we actually went on a trip so we didn’t get to go back to California unfortunately. But seeing them at least was like a breath of fresh air was kind of relieving to be a part of have a piece of home with me since I felt so far away for so long.
Carly: And did either of these events one more than the other maybe affect any part of your family? Or did it dominate your conversations or did you notice it really integrating itself into your life while you were on break over sort of our Thanksgiving break with your family?
Sydney: Definitely I think in regards to break or we were on our trip we would just tell since we’re in another country. We were talking to a lot of people and people asked us about California and the US right now. We were telling them about the modern state about what’s going on with the fires and what the shooting happened but in regards to our own conversations we honestly didn’t talk about it that much because I feel like we we knew how bad it was and how awful it is to talk about it. And I think my parents knew to all the kids in my family I’m just very opinionated and I’m definitely the one they know how passionate I am about changing everything. And like trying to fix the problem and I had my mom read my article about the shooting over break and my parents and I were both talking about it briefly but I think we kind of almost made it we didn’t make a point of it just naturally just didn’t come up because we were all so distraught by it that we’re like let’s not let’s not take away from the moment we have now.
Carly: Both of these tragedies in mind, what has been your biggest take away from that week? Those few weeks and even now it’s been a month?
Sydney: I think the biggest takeaway when something like this happens and this happens probably. I mean I can only imagine that this is for people who have dealt with so many tragedies been going on with you know Vegas to Colorado and everything about Sony. People are having to deal with this all the time as you probably get away like first off,
I mean you really think every day that you’re alive and I’m so grateful that not only was I physically away from this issue when it happened like luckily and none of my close friends were a part of this but I think my biggest takeaway is is to really like value community and they really understand that things like this do happen and how awful it is. But we do have power to, when certain things like this happen in regards to the shooting more than the fires. I think we do have the power to maybe prevent this or cause awareness or try to do everything in our power to honor the people who have been directly affected. I would just like try to like live every day to honor these people because we wouldn’t really ever want to forget the fact that this happened. So just to really honor those people and be really grateful to have the people around to you and be living.
Hi, I'm Carly Berry, a sophomore at Boston University.