A Letter to Our Young Gauchos

To Our Young Gauchos,

First, we love you.  Second, we are so sorry.

In times of tragedy, we are moved to reflect upon our past decisions as well as our current course.  

“Do the people I love know I love them?”

“Do I enjoy my life?”

“Do I feel good about my decisions and their long-term consequences?”

“Am I taking advantage of the opportunities that are being set before me?”

In the wake of the IV shooting, I have asked myself these questions, and, gratefully, I feel that I can answer “yes” to most of them, most of the time.  But at no point in my life is my answer more resounding than when I was a Gaucho, living in and near Isla Vista.  

My time in IV was spent in love, not in fear.  It was spent asking “why shouldn’t I?” instead of “why should I?”.  That’s where I gained my truest friends, my most advanced cognitive training, and my most surreal memories.

While living in IV, I had a life that would have been the envy of…well, almost anybody.  I was young and able.  I lived in a beautiful place and was surrounded by beautiful people.  I attended a prestigious institution that was laden with opportunity.  Of course life wasn’t perfect (never is), but it was rich and it was wonderful.  How spoiled we are, those of us who get to grow into adulthood in that blessed place.

I know that many of my fellow alumni would share messages with a similar ring to it.  This is where my story becomes our story. Most of us will always look back longingly at the place where the 217 ended (or maybe where it began?) and reminisce over a time that felt new, fresh, and hopeful in a unique and almost mystical way.

My dear young Gauchos, we are so sorry.

We are so sorry that our little town of peace and fun has been violated in the absolute most horrific way.  We are sorry that you have to be there for it.  We are sorry that you will not be able to look back on your time at UCSB with the same purity or fantasy that we do.  We feel a heartache over what has happened, but we recognize that our experience is very different from yours, as we have had time and space come between ourselves and UCSB, which serves to make the pain of this a little bit less acute.

But we ache for the victims, for their families, for their neighbors, for our memories, and for all of you. Again, we are so sorry.

We are sorry that your memories will have to be different- sadder, than ours.

IV helped us learn to be brave, to be joyful, to have love towards one another, to be at peace with those who walked alongside us, whether it be down DP on a Thursday night, or into Campbell Hall on a Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM.

What we want for you, is what we had.

I can’t try to “see the silver lining” of this dark situation.  There is no “making the best” of this.  Nothing, and nobody, will ever benefit from the death of 6 young Gauchos.

But we want to tell you this: Isla Vista is still a safe place.  Isla Vista will soon be a happy place.  Isla Vista is still the kind of place that dreams are made of.  Isla Vista still has a lot to offer you, and you have a lot to offer it.  While the sting of these events with forever color your memory, we want you to learn from IV what we learned from IV- be brave, love freely, enjoy your youth.  

The bikes, the beach, the parties, the grub, the surf, the way the mist rolls through the town, the dolphins in the distance, the view from the 8th floor of the library- these were things that were ours, and now they are things that are yours.  Love your time in IV.  Give your time to those who you can help.  Heal in whatever way you need to.  Talk, cry, withdraw, distract yourself, do whatever you need to.  And when you’re ready, IV will be waiting for you to take what it has to give, and to give what you have to offer.

We love you.  We are proud of your solidarity, love and compassion.  You help us remember that UCSB is the best college in the world, but not because of it’s location, it’s amenities, or even it’s programs.  It’s the people.

With Love and Admiration,

Your Gaucho Alumni


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