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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CAU chapter.

The Atlanta University Center started classes Wednesday, August 21st. What was portrayed as a beautiful start to the year, was quickly brought to an immediate halt when a shooter fired into a crowd of 300+ people. Four students were injured and admitted into the hospital that night and released later the next day. All students will make a full recovery.

As a third-year student at CAU, I know what the first day of school should look like. I was prepared for fabulous first-day outfits, beautiful reunions on the promenade, and fried chicken Wednesday.

While I was met with all these things, the vibe on campus was not the same. And part of me was glad everything was not peachy keen. To see students allow themselves to feel remorse or any emotion about this horrific situation was refreshing. I feel like our generation has seen so much in regard to violence like mass shootings, so seeing people die in the streets while casually scrolling through social media, has made us all desensitized. It’s easier to block it out rather than allow us to feel the full range of emotions all of the time. Because let’s be honest, everyone would be an emotional WRECK most of the year.

As black people, we constantly have to choose between being stoic and emotionally unavailable or running the risk of being seen as uncontrollably angry and violent. For us, there is not an in-between. In the midst of tragedy in the AUC, a beautiful thing happened. Students were allowed to see and be seen. Which is contrary to the social norm of not allowing the general public to see you in anything other than a socially acceptable level of happiness. It was a day of vulnerability and visibility that was desperately needed.

Clark Atlanta hosted an emergency town hall following the incident, led by our SGA president, Levon Campbell, Chief Williams, Dean Torres, and Interim President Mauje. They explained the situation to the best of their ability, answered questions and addressed concerns from all students of the AUC. While administration did answer all questions to the best of their ability, it showed that it was not exactly the information students may have wanted to hear. What stood out the most was the empathy shown by the administration for the students involved in the shooting as well as anyone who may have been affected by the incident. That display of affection set the tone for the rest of the year.

I believe that this is the year to be unapologetically honest with ourselves and with others. This is the fresh start that we need to encourage emotional health among our community as well as advocating for this underlying issue that is among black communities nationwide. The time is now.

Clark Atlanta offers Counseling and Disability Services on the third floor of Trevor Arnett. I encourage all students who feel like this situation has triggered them, and especially a first-hand witness, to take advantage of these free services.

20 year old sophomore from little rock. mass media arts major, political science minor at clark atlanta university.