The White House showed some much-needed love to UC Santa Barbara students Wednesday when Vice President Joe Biden posted a video message of encouragement, especially to those graduating this weekend in the wake of tragedy.
One of those graduates-to-be, Kyley Scarlet, actually played a key role in the video’s creation, as well as in local efforts to quell future gun violence.
In the nearly five-minute video, Biden addressed students, family and survivors of last month’s shooting rampage that left seven people dead and 13 injured.
Biden said the class of 2014 was “a remarkable class with a brilliant future” — one that shouldn’t be clouded by the violent acts of May 23 in Isla Vista, the community near UCSB.
“I know this has to be a pretty bittersweet moment for all of you,” he said.
The vice president called each student victim by first name, reassuring others that the community and country is behind — and in awe of — them.
“The day will come, as unbelievable as it seems now, when that memory brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye,” Biden said of remembering the victims. “It will happen, I promise you. My prayer for all of you is that that day will come sooner rather than later, but it will come. I know that wherever you go, whatever you do, you’ll continue to show the world what it means to be IV Strong.”
Efforts leading to the video began the week after the shooting, according to Scarlet, a senior theater major from Los Angeles who served as internal vice president for UCSB Associated Students for 2013-14.
Scarlet wrote a letter to First Lady Michelle Obama asking her to speak on campus before commencement in the wake of the tragic events. She created a MoveOn.org petition, gaining about 1,200 supporters for the effort.
Scarlet then enlisted Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and her daughter, Laura, to help.
She was excited to learn the vice president would take time to record a personal message, which was emailed to all current UCSB students and thousands of alumni.
“I loved it,” Scarlet said. “I thought it was a very beautiful video. It kind of creates hope for change. Especially for our seniors leaving — for me it’s really hard because I know I’m not coming back here.”
In a statement, Capps applauded Biden for the attention.
“Our community has endured a lot over the last three weeks,” she said. “But this tragedy has also served to bring our community closer together and unite us. I am thankful to Vice President Biden for recording this encouraging and inspiring video for the UCSB and Isla Vista communities. It means a lot to our community to have him voice his support.”
Scarlet, a former sorority president, was also leading efforts this week to raise funds for a gun buyback program set for Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.
That campaign, which raised more than $6,000 locally since its launch last week, was also started after last month’s tragedy in Isla Vista.
Scarlet said the goal is to raise $10,000 for the campaign launched in partnership with GunByGun, a tech nonprofit based in San Francisco that has completed three similar campaigns in other cities.