UNC Charlotte is reeling in the wake of a shooting that occurred on campus at 5:40 p.m. on April 30. Two students are dead and four were injured. The suspect is now in custody. At 1:41 a.m. on May 1, a NinerAlert, the system that delivered emergency information to students throughout the lockdown, stated that “support services are available for students” and listed the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) as a resource.
According to their website, The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services is “a department within the Division of Student Affairs at UNC Charlotte. CAPS, along with the Student Health Center, the Center for Wellness Promotion, and University Recreation, is a component of Health and Wellbeing, an administrative unit whose primary goal is to provide comprehensive wellness-related programs and services to UNC Charlotte students.”
According to Dr. Rebecca MacNair-Semands, Senior Associate Director at CAPS, many staff members — including herself — worked at the Popp Martin Student Union until midnight. They then returned to work at 7:30 a.m.; students were already waiting for services. Dr. David Spano, Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Director of CAPS, emphasized that the Center is really focusing on providing whatever students may need. He stated, “For example, we had some students who wanted to meet. They didn’t want to come to campus because they were afraid so we met them off campus at a location across the street so we can do some work for them.”
CAPS is also meeting with various student groups that requested their services and canceled all appointments for the rest of the week. This does not include pre-scheduled appointments with clients, though Spano notes that those appointments may be shortened. The office is available for walk-ins. “Students should know that they can just walk in or call and we’ll be here right away to see them, so there is really not any need for an appointment or anything at this point beyond just sort of showing up and telling us what they need.” Spano said. He recognizes that this experience has only been compounded by fears about exam cancelation and what the upcoming week will look like.
A number of other organizations are collaborating with The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services to provide assistance. Spano told the Niner Times that, “We’re managing with the staff that we have…we also have back up. The county emergency management office is working with us, Red Cross is on campus and the mobile crisis team is on campus so they can back us up if we get overwhelmed.” Those at CAPS are also grateful for the support they have received from those within and outside of the state. Both the University of Utah and UNC Chapel Hill offered to buy food for the office, though Spano says they have more than enough food from a potluck on April 30.
While Spano notes that The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services does not have a lot of experience with the effects of a campus shooting, MacNair-Semands told Niner Times that the office had a meeting as recently as April 29 with the emergency operations team. This occurs periodically so that protocols will be in place. “That’s one thing I feel really good about. Even though we have been extremely busy and the work is emotionally challenging at times, I feel grateful that we had staff training in both active shooter responding and coping with post-traumatic stress. Our team attitude has been amazing and people keep stopping by to volunteer any extra time to help students.”
The Center of Counseling and Psychological Services is available to support students in any capacity they may need. It can be reached at 704‑687‑0311 and is located at 9502 Poplar Terrace Drive, behind the Student Health Center.