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Editorial: When reality hits, students can’t go numb

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Editorial: When reality hits, students can’t go numb

Police cars and a fire truck are parked outside the Here apartment building in the 300 block of Green Street after a shooting that took place early Sunday morning.

Police cars and a fire truck are parked outside the Here apartment building in the 300 block of Green Street after a shooting that took place early Sunday morning.

Austin Yattoni

Police cars and a fire truck are parked outside the Here apartment building in the 300 block of Green Street after a shooting that took place early Sunday morning.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Police cars and a fire truck are parked outside the Here apartment building in the 300 block of Green Street after a shooting that took place early Sunday morning.

The bubble burst early Sunday morning.

While students of the University were out drinking with friends, finishing that last problem in the library or just sleeping, reality hit Champaign-Urbana.

We’ve all seen those tweets, Facebook posts and headlines that inform us of gun violence in Chicago or St. Louis, but most of us quickly move on with our lives. That doesn’t directly affect us; it can’t hurt us, so why should we care?

We live in Champaign-Urbana, and senseless gun violence, for the most part, doesn’t touch us here.

But last night, a man visiting campus needlessly lost his life. Five more victims are just beginning the physical and emotional recovery process, as new Chancellor Robert Jones mentioned in his Massmail to the campus community Sunday afternoon. Countless other friends, family members and witnesses must cope with the trauma as well.

So, like many different parts of the country have been before us, we’re left with questions. Who did this? Why? Who are the victims? Why would you even bring a gun to a party?

This type of violence — careless cruelty — has been happening in Chicago for years, but most students are detached from that reality. There were 22 shootings in Chicago on Saturday night. There hadn’t been a single shooting in Champaign in over two months.

Students living in the Chicagoland area may see those headlines and move on with their daily lives as if nothing happened. The number of people shot increases every day, but the reactions stay the same.

Safety is not a conscious concern for most people on this campus. But some things, like the events of Sunday morning, can and should disrupt that mentality.

A new reality sets in: It could have been you. It could have been anyone. The Main Quad is the center of our campus, but Green Street is the center of our campus lives. This weekend was indistinguishable from any other during the school year.

There was no warning.

But now is the time where we learn from those before us and come together. That’s a characteristic that we students are proud to exemplify. You could already see the compassion on display last night: whether in frantic texts to friends, supportive posts on social media or even those who assisted the wounded.

We’ll mourn, we’ll help each other and we’ll emerge stronger.

Don’t let Sunday become part of a numbing process, where we slowly lose feeling and forget that those numbers aren’t just digits, but lives.

For those of us who’ve seen this happen everyday, our sanctuary has been violated. For those of us who grew up away from the violence, these moments are no longer foreign.

It happened here.

If you have thoughts on the shooting and want to share, please submit a letter to the editor here.

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