THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF THE MAJORITY OF THE NINER TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD. IT IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF STUDENT NINER MEDIA.
We all know where we were when we heard and I doubt any of us will ever forget.
Jeffrey Kopp, Editor-in-Chief, was walking into the library when he saw people running out of the door. His first instinctive thought was that it was people energetically running in celebration of the last day of class. That was until he heard people shouting “Active shooter!” Upon hearing that, he ran as fast as he could to safety. Luckily, he was able to evacuate campus with a group of nearby strangers.
Nikolai Mather, Assistant Opinion Editor, was sitting in his dorm when he saw a message in the Niner Times Editorial Board group chat. He instantly turned off his dorm lights and closed his blinds. After sending the dreaded text to his mom, “There’s a shooter on campus,” he headed outside to do what he could to cover the incident for Niner Times.
Kathleen Cook, Video Producer, was in the Concord Mills food court. When she first saw the messages in the group chat, she thought it may just be a misunderstanding. She hoped it was just a misunderstanding. When she received the Niner Alert, the reality of the situation hit her. She then immediately texted her parents letting them know she wasn’t on campus.
Alexandria Sands, Community Editor, was sitting in a Grammar for Writing class in Fretwell when she received the message. She immediately told her classroom so they could make the classroom as safe as possible. She then opened her laptop while hiding in the corner of the room to proceed to write an article about the situation.
Sam Palian, Sports Editor, was working at the BB&T Ballpark with the Charlotte Knights when her Apple Watch blew up with messages from the group chat. A lot of things ran through her head, but when she was asked if her sports writer and friend, Drew Pescaro, had been shot, her “heart dropped.” She “couldn’t control whether she walked or ran or hit the ground or cried or anything at that point.” Before she knew it, she was rushing to the hospital.
Noah Howell, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor, was sitting in an Intro to Security & Privacy class in Woodward Hall when he received word of the shooting. Before he had time to process what was happening and inform his class, another student told the professor what was going on on the other side of campus. The professor considered proceeding with class to keep the students calm but opted to tell them all to quickly go home. Noah sent the dreaded “I’m safe,” text to his family, like many others of the UNC Charlotte community did on April 30, 2019.
Jonathan Limehouse, Assistant Sports Editor, had just exited his Business Writing class in Colvard when he saw an armed CMPD officer run towards Kennedy where the shooting had occurred. He ran back into Colvard and warned an uninformed class about the shooting in process which led to him being in a barricaded, locked and dark classroom for two hours. He texted his parents before the shooting went on the news so they knew he was alright.
Megan Bird, News Editor, was in Spain six hours ahead the night before her spring vacation was supposed to start. She stayed up all night, the hostel room only illuminated by the soft glow of her phone as she texted everyone she knew on campus and refreshed Twitter every 10 seconds, all to get a sense of what was happening.
Emily Hickey, Copy Editor, was in her apartment room in Ireland watching Game of Thrones. Her phone was charging on the opposite side of the room, and when she got up to get it, she had over 100 unread messages concerning the shooting. She stayed up until three a.m. Ireland time, watching a news channel stream on her laptop and texting everyone she knew in Charlotte to ensure their safety.
On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, many UNC Charlotte students and faculty sent their loved ones texts that they never wanted nor really expected to have to send. Whether they were in Kennedy, an off-campus apartment or the Concord Mills food court, they had to inform their loved ones that they hadn’t been shot at their university. They had to inform them that they weren’t dead.
There’s a long list of schools that have experienced this, and on April 30, UNC Charlotte was added to the list. With the growing amounts of school shootings happening in America, people have come to expect more shootings. People assume that it will happen again, but they never expect it to be at their school. People expect more people to die, but never expect it to be their fellow students or their friends or their family. People think it will never happen to them until it does. We thought it would it would never happen to us until it did.
Every time something like this happens, people send their condolences. People send their thoughts and prayers. People share articles on Facebook and they retweet hashtags honoring victims. They might get in heated gun debates. Hell, maybe they’ll even call or write their congresspeople once or twice. This typically lasts for about a week, maybe two if that. Then it’s either silence or we’ve moved on to a different shooting.
America is becoming desensitized to the bloodshed because processing events like these is extremely challenging. It’s often easier to just grow unsympathetic about the violence in order to protect yourself from having to face it. We cannot allow ourselves to do that. We need change, and that requires action. Without action, nothing will ever change. If we repeat this cycle of reactionary uproar followed by complacency, countless more lives will be lost. We need action. We need reform.
When the shooting happened, we were sent an alert that stated, “Run, Hide, Fight.” We cannot run from this issue. It plagues our entire nation. We cannot hide from this issue. A lot of us are already trying that and it is not working. We need to fight. Fight using your words. Fight using your vote. If we stand together and put in the effort, we can change America for the better. We can finally end this senseless bloodshed. It will not come fast. It will not come easy, but it will be worth it if we can prevent innocent people from losing their lives.
Sadly, change didn’t come before the violence hit UNC Charlotte. Innocent lives were lost, innocent students were hospitalized and thousands of innocent students will have to live with this trauma forever.
The Niner Times Editorial Board wants more than the cycle that occurs each time a shooting happens. We want more than heated gun debates, shared hashtags and thoughts and prayers. Whether it’s the easy access to firearms, the poor mental health screenings or simply determining which guns should be allowed, something has to change. Because UNC Charlotte was added to a long list that just keeps growing. We were added to the list of schools whose students had to send the “I’m safe” texts to their loved ones. We were added to the list of schools with a Wikipedia page for something other than academics or athletics. We were added to the list of reasons that change needs to happen, and even after people move on and forget what tragic list we were added to, we will remember. We as Niner Nation will remember where we were when we heard there was a shooter on campus. We as Niner Nation need to remember that pain so we go on to prevent other schools from feeling that.