Opinion: Don’t film your violent show on my campus


A commercial production filming on campus redesigns a Loyola sign for their set on Nov. 8 2019. The production sparked controversy when students and faculty reported hearing simulated gunshots. Hannah Renton/The Maroon. Photo credit: Hannah Renton

Emma Ruby

Last week, a filming project on campus led to frustrations among students. Some voiced complaints that they couldn’t find parking. Others grew annoyed by the large presence of men carrying camera equipment clogging the Bobet Hall walkways. These minor grievances didn’t bother me much. I live on campus, so parking didn’t impact me, and I thought the chaos of navigating the first floor of Bobet was a little bit fun.

I did become agitated, however, after I was alerted that the premise of what was being filmed revolved around an active shooter situation. I became even more upset after seeing videos of actors playing students pretending to run for their lives during filming. And I became downright angry when I found out that many students reported hearing fake gunshots from their classrooms, despite the fact that students were assured gun shot sound effects would not be used according to an email from Chief of Staff Lesli Harris.

For my generation of students, school shootings are a very real and very present trauma and fear we each grew up with. I think you would be hard pressed to find a student on campus who doesn’t have some sort of personal tie to a school shooting, whether it was a false alarm or, god forbid, the real thing.

Our generation of students has nightmares of men walking onto campus with guns. Our generation of students has imagined what we would do in that situation and our final texts to parents and significant others. We’ve imagined what we would do if our friends were hurt or killed. Our generation of students has imagined ourselves killed by school shooters.

Outside of Louisiana, Florida and Texas are the two most common states for Loyola students to call home. Both are states that have been rocked by school gun violence in recent years. In 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida became the grounds for the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. Only four months later, Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas became grounds for the third deadliest.

I’m sure students from both states could tell you about the ripple effects that these shootings caused across our communities. Personally, students at my high school organized vigils in solidarity with the victims of both shootings my junior year. But the thing is, we shouldn’t have to justify to the university why it’s inappropriate to invite a shooter scenario onto our campus.

Just as Harris said in her email, I love seeing our school as a backdrop in film. I’ve seen “Happy Death Day” an embarrassing amount of times for that very reason. But a man on our campus with a firearm — fake or not — is not simply a “scary scene,” as Harris described it. For me, and many of my friends and peers, it is one of my greatest fears and nightmares.

I understand that taking advantage of filming opportunities is a great way for Loyola to receive some extra cash, and a great way for our school to be on the big screen. But whatever Loyola was paid for last week’s filming can not possibly be enough to justify the content matter.

At a fundamental level, the violence of mass shootings is not something that aligns with any part of our Jesuit values as a campus. We should be encouraging and taking part in stories that promote excellence, compassion, friendship, justice and service. No paycheck can erase the fact that last week we were the backdrop for a scene of horror and trauma. That is not Loyola as I know it, and that is not the Loyola I want to ever see again.