The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

OPINION | I Am Grieving. I Am Grateful: A Thank-You to the Heroes of the Tragedy

Carly Philpott
Thank-you cards from students line the walls of Commons after Oct. 25. Carly Philpott/The Bates Student.

Thursday at around 4:00 a.m., I woke up shivering and disoriented. The stacks of Ladd Library were strikingly dark. And cold. I had joked with a friend of mine last week about pulling 24 hours in Ladd, seeing if we’d get caught. What a turnaround.

When I made my way to the bathroom, I was shivering uncontrollably. I felt as though I could barely stand or breathe. In the mirror my reflection didn’t feel the same. Nothing felt the same. 

I didn’t know how to operate, and I haven’t since around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25. None of us have. And yet, somehow, we are standing. I give so much credit to the staff who have worked tirelessly for us in the first 24 hours, and on every day since. 

When I was finally able to leave Ladd at about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, I started a list in my notes app of people I wanted to thank. I knew that Bates would never feel the same, but it was because of the staff that I felt any semblance of safety and comfort. I will never forget their efforts or be able to thank them enough.

First and foremost, Ladd Librarian, Pat Schoknecht. Thank you for checking on us, huddled between stacks. Of course we weren’t okay, but you knew that, and you cared for us regardless. At 6:00 a.m., you told us there would soon be vans to take us back to our dorms for the first time in nearly twelve hours. As a friend and I packed up quickly and ran frantically through Ladd, I asked for your name so I could thank you later. You gave me a hug.

Few things were more frightening than being locked in a library as someone with a weapon of war was on the loose. From my makeshift bed of library armchairs, I could see the door to the stairwell, and I could barely sleep wondering if someone would burst through. I am barely an adult and I think I am one of many who feels hardly able to care for and comfort myself like one. But you cared for us. You were there every single moment. I will never, ever forget that.

My second thank you is to Blake Reilly, who just so happens to be my Student Support Advisor. You drove the van that took me from Ladd to my dorm at 6:30 a.m. I was scared for our lives, but I found myself documenting the odd light outside instead of being in the moment. You  comforted us with lighthearted comments, joking about how you had been up all night. And yet, you were there driving the van; driving us to safety. You provided relief, comfort, and a smile at the end of a long night. 

To Geoff Swift, whose emails kept us informed; thank you for doing your best to hold our community together even as the unthinkable was unfolding. I can not begin to imagine the stress and pressure you were under to not only manage the situation, while keeping a community of thousands from unraveling. Your update emails did a lot to keep me sane for those 48 hours. Thank you.

Thank you to my professors, Dr. Alex Dauge-Roth, Dr. Mara Tieken, Dr. Erin Hyde Nolan and Dr. Myron Beasley. Your emails, filled with words of sorrow and encouragement, meant more to me than you could ever have expected. One of the most immediate effects of a tragedy like this on students is a loss of connection with school, and you have understood that. I received emails that told me to not worry about school, to be present with family alongside friends, and to feel welcome to meet with you upon returning to campus. These are words that I treasured as I struggled to figure out how to move forward from the trauma of the shooting. Recovery is infinitely easier when you have people in your corner.

Thank-you cards from students line the walls of Commons after Oct. 25. Carly Philpott/The Bates Student. (Carly Philpott)

While I could continue for hundreds of pages, listing those who kept me safe and sane at Bates this week, I want to finish with a big one: Commons staff.

Commons staff, I want you to know that so many Bates students have felt your efforts, hard work, and love this week. We have as well tried our best to understand the toll it took on you, but acknowledge that understanding comes with time. Your presence and resolve in Commons, at 3:00 pm on Thursday, strengthened my soul more than I thought was possible. I know many of you were sheltering in place there overnight and had yet to go home, but you were still there for us. Thank you does not begin to express the gratitude that the Bates community has for everyone involved. 

I will always remember the terribly tragic pieces of the Lewiston mass shooting, but I will also keep close to my heart the people who helped us recover. Thank you.

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About the Contributor
Carly Philpott, Assistant News Editor
Carly is a first-year from Centennial, Colo. The Student was a major reason she chose Bates after a longtime love for journalism. You can find Carly at the Bates Historical Society or taking photos of ducks on the Puddle for the Bates Communications Office. She also enjoys quality time with her pet toads, pictured.

Comments (3)

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  • K

    Kathleen R P CostaNov 20, 2023 at 11:28 PM

    This is a beautiful piece of writing, Carly.

  • M

    Melanie NorallNov 16, 2023 at 10:50 AM

    Carly, this is beautiful. Thank you for helping all of us (parents, families, and friends) understand what the lockdown felt like on October 25th. And so wonderful to hear about all the staff members who made such a difference on that day.

  • N

    Nancy PaynterNov 16, 2023 at 9:47 AM

    Heartfelt piece. Grateful that the Bates community looked out for each other during this awful, awful event.