On May 23, 2014, a UC Santa Barbara student, Elliot Rodger, injured 13 people and killed 7. Being a typical Friday night, residents of Isla Vista were walking around going from party to party or spending time with friends making the range of people who would be targetted by Rodgers much higher than any other night. The 20 people included his roommates, girls in front of a sorority, and random pedestrians in the streets.
Through this tragedy, the community of Isla Vista became one and joined each other to support those who were affected by the shooting. Being able to resonate with one another the individuals came together and offered peace and a listening ear.
The Isla Vista shooting shook the community and tore apart all that people believed was safe. With the university being adjoining to the Isla Vista community and with some harmed students being from UCSB, it became a place of mourning.
The lights in the Pardall Tunnel were created as part of a collection for the one-year anniversary of the shooting. This installation is called ““Hesperus is Phosphorus: Light Passages” and includes the light tunnel, solar powered lights in the grass and trees, and other light installations across the campus. Along with this, on the one-year anniversary, there was a candlelight vigil as shown above.
Lighting up the tunnel was a way for UC Santa Barbara to connect with Isla Vista, as it is the main spot of entrance into the campus through Isla Vista. By using lights along Pardall Street and past the tunnel on the grassy area of campus, connecting it with the bright tunnel was a symbol of togetherness.
The only part of the collection remaining today is some of the solar lights and the light tunnel, which people notice but don’t know the history of. As two years have passed, upperclassmen have memories of the shootings while they share the stories with the underclassmen. Eventually, it will only become something heard of and the standing thing as proof would be the memorial wall and the Pardall tunnel lights.
The tunnel lights and the mural wall are a way of externalizing these memories and to keep them remembered by others as the school years go by. As new students come to the university, the tunnel lights will be one of the first things they see and eventually they will question its placement and know the history. The lights being bright will make most people, like me, happy to walk under all while keeping the memory of those lost as positive as possible.