The following editorial was submitted to Substream by Adrien Lac, a French exchange student at The Ohio State University.
In the wake of the recent OSU attack, the Buckeye community remembers and heals to the sound of music.
In November 2015, France endured a horrible attack that took dozens of lives that the French people commemorated just a few weeks ago. On Monday, almost a year later, as a French exchange student, I experienced the most sinister déja vu.
Woken up by a flow of worried messages, it is once again on my phone screen that the events hit me. One man, acting alone, began attacking OSU students in the school where they study and live, a campus where they grow up and party, and now have to hurt and heal.
“The first text from the Buckeye alert system was just something along the lines of ‘Beware, there’s an active shooter. Take precautions and hide in buildings,'” says Michelle Marein, a student at OSU. “At that moment, my heart completely sank. I called my mom; she had gotten one of the texts, too. She looked it up online and already a bunch of news sites were reporting that something was happening at OSU.”
This will be the common Buckeye community experience of that event: A cold and laconic text alert that encapsulates, in less characters than allowed for a tweet, a potential death threat.
“We were driving down High Street when we saw the cops,” says Alex Karcher, another student at OSU. “We first commented that we never saw cops drive that fast on High Street. And when we got the text message we just looked at each other. It was some kind of surreal moment. It just said, ‘Run Hide Fight.'”
That is it. This moment of disbelief when the only proof that you have that a tragedy is actually happening close by is an impersonal message on a five-inch screen. I knew that feeling.
“I was in class about a shred over from the incident and we all started receiving the Buckeye alerts and we started looking outside the windows,” recalls OSU student Megan Donnelly. “Our teacher was like, ‘You can either run or stay.’ Half the class left, the other stayed. I stayed because at that point I didn’t know which way that shooter was traveling. I preferred to stay and hope for the best. I can’t explain that feeling when you receive that message when it’s just a shred away from you; your heart just sinks and it’s peer panic for a second.”
48 hours after the events, the exact motive of the attacker is still unclear, but no lives appear to be in danger anymore. The college community gathered in St. John Arena on Tuesday evening to congratulate the Buckeyes for their support, the forces for their responsiveness, to emphasize the need for solidarity and the availability of support and counseling resources. Music was played—cello and brasses—while students sang.
“I feel like we’re really fortunate as a community that it wasn’t worse than what it was,” says Marein. “Obviously it’s devastating regardless but it could have gotten a lot worse. I’m extremely faithful and I have good friends by me. It makes me appreciate that much more.”
I’m merely a long-term guest in the Ohio State community but I feel like I can safely say that it will take more than that to tear the Buckeyes apart. History has yet to say what will be the impact of this event on the student body and Columbus as a whole, but the first page of that story has ended on a hopeful note echoed with the music played in St. John Arena. S