Farmingdale State College freshman Dylan Morse, 18, always uses a “buddy” system when he goes out with friends, with one of them designated to check on him as he does the same in return.
Gianna Conetta, 18, a freshman from Massapequa, makes sure to survey the interior of movie theaters, pinpointing the location of emergency exits and scoping out who is sitting around her. And senior Alexa Kalfa, 23, said she is hyper-aware of her surroundings when out and about.
“It's so scary, going to a club with your friends. It is just scary. You never know what is going to happen," Kalfa, a psychology student from Bohemia, said Thursday afternoon after authorities said a gunman killed at least 12 people in a California bar filled with college students and then apparently shot himself. "We're all going out, so we can all relate to situations like this."
The three Long Island students are among millions who have grown up in a time when mass shootings have proliferated nationwide, and all said that has affected how they go about their daily lives. They are members of the first generation of American children to be trained in lockdowns and active-shooter drills while in grade school.
“It is so sad that this happens so much that it is like, 'Oh, another mass shooting.' How many more have to happen before something gets done?” said Kalfa, who was living in Orlando at the time of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub there in June 2016. In that attack 49 people were killed and 53 wounded. The gunman was killed in a standoff with police.
Morse, a criminal justice major from Bellmore, was doing his homework early Thursday morning when he learned of the shooting through a breaking news alert. The students said that it seems these events have become almost routine.
"It's still terrible to see," he said.
Student Brianna Wilson, 19, of Valley Stream, was on campus when she learned about the shooting. She said there needs to be more background checks for purchasing weapons.
LIU Post in Brookville is planning a campus vigil and speak-out "to pay tribute to those who were affected, and also speak out on their thoughts and feelings regarding this and other recent incidents," university officials said in a statement. Details of the event, a collaboration between the college's Religious Life and Student Government organizations, are being firmed up.
In addition, LIU plans a card-writing campaign to send messages of support to the universities in California whose students were killed.