Sept. 28 is now forever marked in UT’s history as the day a gunman opened fire on campus, eventually killing himself and forcing the University into a temporary lockdown. But on Sept. 28, something remarkable also happened — a generation accused of spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter and cell phones used its expertise to keep a campus safe.
Few students needed to watch the news or even hear the sirens to learn that the University was shutting down. Within seconds, students were texting their friends, tweeting concise warnings and writing on Facebook walls to inquire about one another’s whereabouts. In fact, most students turned to our very own student-run publication, The Daily Texan, for actual news coverage, as the paper proved itself to be a quick and reliable source of information. Other students, however, took it upon themselves to record their own history, filming and posting a YouTube video in which they sing an original song titled “The UT Shooter Blues” that describes the lockdown experience from inside a dorm.
But why? Because we are Longhorns. And in moments of crisis, we set aside differences and remember that we all belong to one family.
UTPD and other emergency officials were also incredible with their response rate. Students soon received text messages from the University’s emergency alert system about the incident and were suddenly thankful for all the siren rehearsals that allowed Tuesday’s warning to be transmitted smoothly. SWAT teams began sweeping through hallways and securing perimeters. President Powers held a press conference without much delay, quickly informing the public about the day’s goings-on. On the whole, countless good lessons were learned.
But perhaps the simultaneously most obvious yet least discussed lesson here is that despite the University’s top-notch resources, some students are still falling through the cracks.
Instead of reserving our spirit of goodwill for moments of crisis, we ought to be helping one another year-round. We ought to take it upon ourselves to learn about the warning signs and help our peers before it’s too late.
We are all deeply saddened for the friends and family of the young man who took his own life on Tuesday. So, put your horns up. Put your horns up for them and hold them high, so that we might always remember the importance of helping our own.