Much of Niner Nation has not returned to campus since the tragic and abrupt ending of the spring semester when two students were killed and four were injured in an on-campus shooting. Now a new year is coming into focus, and as students endure the usual stressors of college life, they are also left wondering how safe they really are at UNC Charlotte.
An email sent out on July 25 from Chancellor Dubois hoped to put minds at ease by highlighting the changes that can be expected come fall. The biggest step is an enhanced police presence on campus as well as a security presence for large events such as concerts. Dubois assures that this is not in response to any expected danger but “to reassure us all of the strength and accessibility of our police force.”
“I encourage you to introduce yourself to the officers you see and share any concerns or questions,” says the Chancellor.
Between July 31 and Sept. 11, six sessions have been scheduled for “Community Active Assailant Response Training.” Organized by the Department of Safety and Security, the sessions will provide emergency training based on the ALICE model. ALICE, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate, provides a step by step overview from how to lock down a room to methods of self defense in the event of an active shooter. The model has been taught at several schools across the country, including UNC Charlotte, by campus police. Open to both students and faculty, those interested can register at the Emergency Management website or through the link provided in the chancellor’s email. Some emergency procedures will also be listed on posters in classrooms.
In addition to new precautions, Chancellor Dubois promises the reconvening of the Niner Nation Remembrance Commission, a group tasked with finding the best way to memorialize the victims of the April shooting. According to their website, the commission’s work includes contacting other communities who have experienced similar tragedy in order to form plans for a memorial and the future of Kennedy 236 where the tragedy took place. All fourteen members were appointed by Chancellor Dubois to form a group that he felt “would offer diversity of thought as well as relevant professional expertise and personal experience.” Among these members are several university faculty members, Charlotteans with a range of professional experiences, and David Reed, the uncle of shooting victim Reed Parlier. Having spent the summer researching the memorialization of other tragedies, the commission plans to have their recommendations completed by the end of 2019.
Meanwhile, services will continue at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. Chancellor Dubois encourages those students who may need extra support to take advantage of these resources. He also encourages the support and unity of the greater Niner Nation, titling his email “We Are All Niners.”
“It isn’t a slogan or a motto. It is a declaration. Together, our future is bright, bold, and strong.”
Dubois’ final promise in his message is that these words will appear frequently in the days to come as a reminder that we are one community that will remain Charlotte Strong.