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One Year After The Shooting, Community Is UCC Strong

Rachael McDonald

One year ago Saturday (October 1st), a gunman opened fire during a writing class in Snyder Hall at Umpqua Community College. He killed 9 people and then himself. The events of that day forever changed the rural community of Roseburg and Douglas County.  The one-year mark will be a sober observance.

Students are back on the UCC campus this week for fall term. On this warm, sunny day, Caitlin Osborne sits on a bench in the shade of an oak tree. She is in her 3rd year at UCC. She points to where she was when the shooting happened last year.
Osborne: “I was getting ready for my first Science lab. I was sitting on one of the benches between Snyder and the library when it happened. I grabbed all my books after I heard the students running and screaming and I took off down here to the financial aid office and that’s where I was.”
Osborne says she knew one of nine people who lost their life that day. She says being back on campus feels strange.
Osborne: “It’s tough, just remembering what happened. And, even now it still feels like a dream.”
Umpqua Community College is the only institute of higher learning in Douglas County. Most everyone knew someone directly affected by the tragedy.
Becker: “UCC became America’s community college in that moment.”
Vanessa Becker is chair of the UCC Board of Trustees. She was in  Brookings the morning of the shooting. She turned around and drive right back to Roseburg to offer support to interim president Rita Cavin.
Becker: “Having an the lens, an international lens on us for an intense period was really taxing and tough but I think that we did a pretty fantastic job with our law enforcement and first responders and with the college and with our mental health response.”
Donations poured in right away from people all over the world. Brian Prawitz is with UCC Strong, a committee that distributes funds to those affected by the shooting. The money helps with things like medical bills. Prawitz says in the past year, a total of about one million dollars has been given to families of the victims who died, to the nine people who were wounded and to others who were in the room or the building that day.
Prawitz: “The committee has done a lot of work to be fair and transparent and objective and responsible with the money that was given and as we look back to the last 12 months, the committee’s very comfortable with the decisions that were made.”
On the UCC campus, the only indication something happened at Snyder Hall is the small display of flowers in front of the classroom door. In the next month or so, the building will be torn down. The state legislature awarded the college $4.25 million to rebuild it. UCC Board Member Betty Tamm says a committee that included students and faculty helped design a new Snyder.
Tamm: “The new building will be on roughly the same footprint and we will retain a few elements of the old building, some of the stone work, some of the timbers, just to have some pieces of the old building, but otherwise, it’s going to be built from the ground up.”
Tamm says she hopes the rebuilding of Snyder Hall will help the campus heal.
Tamm: “The faculty and students really wanted to move forward, not let the event defeat us. Show we’re moving forward and can recover and move on.”
Tamm says the plan is to have the new building complete and ready for the 2017 – 18 school year.
On Saturday, the college will be closed. There is run / walk planned that day at Stewart Park in Roseburg, it’s a benefit for the UCC Foundation Scholarship fund. There’s also a candlelight vigil that evening. Student Caitlin Osborne says she might stop by to watch the run.
Osborne: “I’d like to at least see the people and be there for the community.”

Umpqua Community College

UCC Strong

Remembering the Roseburg 9

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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