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I have desperately tried to avoid social media and the media in general over the past few days. Sad, confused and angry, I have found the opinions and views of those living outside of the Isla Vista community critical and unproductive. Facebook posts speculating why such a tragedy “was bound to occur” because Isla Vista is “only a place for partying” are sickening and unnecessary (#unfriend).
This is our home. Our unique, diverse, twisted home, and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. To watch it be ridiculed and critiqued while we are all in a place of mourning makes this incident all the more difficult.
This is why I would like to remind my fellow Gauchos to hold your heads high. We are strong and resilient and we should not be defined by the tragedies that have occurred, but instead by our strength and power to pull together in a time of grieving.
I am reminded, even after such monumental devastation, that I.V. is a beautiful place of diversity and can never be narrowly described as “a place to party.” This is where we have met lifelong friends and had irreplaceable memories.
I will choose to see this as my home, and not let one man’s malicious intentions, a newscast team’s cameras or a Facebook friend’s ridiculous post define Isla Vista for me. On this sad day, I still see I.V. Deli as the place my two amazing friends work. I see Pardall as my bike path to campus. I see DP with my Freshman eyes, walking through first weekend of Fall Quarter. I see UCSB as the platform for my amazing education. And I see Isla Vista as the place where the defining years of my life are taking place.
I am so proud to be a part of such a inviolable community; I am proud of the unity and integrity of all Santa Barbara Students, but most of all, I AM PROUD TO CALL MYSELF A GAUCHO.
Ali Gerrard is a third year English and communication major.