CSUN community gathers following Monterey Park shooting

Students listen as Edel Evangelista describes his reaction to the Monterey Park shooting on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at the Glenn Omatsu House in Northridge, Calif. The Asian American Studies Pathways Project held a solidarity circle in light of the recent attacks at Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.

Kirsten Cintigo, Communities Desk Editor

Members of the CSUN community gathered on Jan. 25 at the Glenn Omatsu House to show solidarity in response to the mass shooting in Monterey Park which occurred over Lunar New Year weekend, claiming 11 lives and injuring 10.

Students interning with the Asian American Studies Pathways Project organized the event and held discussions surrounding mental health and gun violence.

In an opening statement, student interns described feelings of distress and grief. They also included an acknowledgment of the mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, which occurred two days after the one in Monterey Park.

“The Lunar New Year is a time for the community to celebrate life, community wealth and bounty,” AASPP intern Edel Evangelista said in the opening statement. “These recent acts of violence are a tragedy that no matter how well they relate or connect for Asian American, Pacific Islander or Desi American communities, they affect us all as a nation of immigrants.”

AASPP intern Michelle Gillen found the event helpful as their grandmother frequently visits the Star Dance Ballroom in Monterey Park, where the attack took place, and was recently hired as their DJ. Gillen’s grandmother planned to attend the night of the shooting, but turned back home after realizing it was too dark to drive. Gillen said they froze after hearing about the news through TikTok the next morning.

“I immediately called her and she told me that she was heading over to the party at that time and decided to turn back,” Gillen said. “I just felt a great sense of sadness because of how upset my grandmother sounded talking about how four of her friends died.”

Gillen expressed gratitude for AASPP and the emotional support provided.

“Everyone here has different degrees of experience whether it’s dealing with tragedy or having connections to resources,” Gillen said. “Because of my grandmother and her generation, she’s not one to welcome help. But my peers here mentioned several resources to help my grandmother.”

Some of the resources provided during the event included a list of local therapy and mental health support services.

Counselors from University Counseling Services were also in attendance and encouraged students dealing with grief to register for private therapy sessions or support groups available through the university.

UCS doctoral intern Seung Yoon (Christina) Lee said it’s common to experience secondary trauma symptoms in situations like this.

“It’s helpful to open up and talk about it instead of keeping it to yourself,” Lee said. “I really want to emphasize to not isolate yourself and get support.”