We See The Light

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Pardall Tunnel illuminated at night                   Photo by Author (August 30, 2016)                 Click here for video

     Daily, UCSB students nonchalantly bike, skateboard, and walk through Pardall Tunnel not acknowledging  its beauty and significance it carries.  Only very so often, some stop and take a moment to think back to the tragedy that occurred on the night of May 23, 2014.

     On the one-year anniversary of the incident, the lights seen in the photograph to the left were installed commemorating the students’ lives we lost that day.  The “brains” behind this artwork were two professors of UCSB’s Arts and Media Arts and Technology departments: Kim Yasuda and Marcos Novak.

Both Novak and Yasuda made it a point to make a connection between the UCSB campus and Isla Vista using these lights.  Yasuda said, “I felt if we were going to do the lighting project, it had to serve as an illuminated bridge between campus and community…If it stopped at the tunnel, it would be hitting the border and not addressing the real issue of Isla Vista” (Salay) and she envisioned a river of lights from campus to IV (Leachman).  Novak says, “The statement is one of how things are interconnected.  It’s all about bringing things together” (Palminteri).

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Michelle Yazawa walking through Pardall Tunnel for the last time                                           Photo by Author (August 30, 2016)

     In an interview with a friend who is a recent graduate of UCSB (class of 2015), Michelle Yazawa described to me what she was doing at the time of the incident, and what she felt was the purpose of the lights one year later, which happened to be similar to what the professors had intended.  Michelle had said that she, too, felt the connection between the campus and community.  She continued on to say that she had felt that this part was campus, and the other part was Isla Vista, but the bridge made the link between the two.  (To the right is a photograph of Michelle walking through Pardall Tunnel at night for the last time before she leaves IV.)

     I found this very interesting because I felt a different purpose for the lights.  I also found that the tunnel could serve as safety, a literal and figurative “light at the end of the tunnel” and symbol of positivism.  What it really boils down to is whether you were in the UCSB or Isla Vista community or not at the time of the incident.  Raphaella Faria, a student in Yasuda’s IV Open Lab course, said, “In four years from now, most likely there won’t be any student who was here in Isla Vista during the tragedy.  Our perception of it will vary a lot…” (Salay) which is clear to see in the difference of opinion between Michelle and I.

    For years to come, the permanent light installation will hold all its purposes, and will ultimately change over time.  But one thing remains, and that it is symbolic to those lives we lost that day, and how strong of a community Isla Vista and UCSB is now because of it.  But to me, the tunnel serves more than just a connection between campus and community.  I feel safe at night with the lights illuminated, bringing light into darkness, as they flicker and guide me to the end.  Even during the day, they shed light onto students, which also serves as a reminder to us that we should share positive thoughts and spread the light to others.  What do Pardall Tunnel’s lights mean to you?

Works Cited

  1. Flores, Adolfo, Kate Mather, and Scott Gold. “ISLA VISTA RAMPAGE; Rampage in Isla Vista; Student Dies of Gunshot after Killing 6, Wounding 13.” ProQuest. N.p., 25 May 2014. Web. 24 Aug. 2016.
  2. Leachman, Shelly. “‘We Are All UCSB‘” The UCSB Current. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Aug. 2016.
  3. Palminteri, John. “Solar Light Project Helps to Heal & Inspire UCSB After Tragedies.” KEYT. N.p., 13 May 2015. Web. 30 Aug. 2016.
  4. Salay, Mark. “Blunite Lights Up Isla Vista.” Blunite Lights Up Isla Vista. N.p., 21 May 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
  5. Yazawa, Michelle. “Isla Vista Shooting.” Telephone interview. 24 Aug. 2016.
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