At 12:54 p.m. on Wednesday, Alert Carolina sirens went off, warning students about an “armed and dangerous person on or near campus.”
That was the second time this University-wide message was heard by students within three weeks. That was the second time students frantically looked for information and somewhere to hide. That was the second time students sheltered in place, texting their loved ones that they were okay.
A second time when there should have never been a first.
Standing alone, the presence of an armed individual on campus is terrifying. Coupled with the death of Zijie Yan on Aug. 28, this is unimaginable and despicable.
UNC students should not have had to experience these traumatic events back to back. UNC faculty should not have faced uncertainty about what to do in a dangerous situation — again.
Though they didn’t know a second incident would come so soon, University leadership had two weeks to update emergency communication procedures to prevent the spread of misinformation and fear.
The second time, students waited for what felt like too long before we received any communication from UNC. We listened for footsteps and updates on police scanners as we hid. We exchanged the same texts we did 16 days before, and we relied on rumors and hearsay before confirmation came through.
But even the Alert Carolina messages that followed didn’t provide much information. While they were sent with more frequency than they were on Aug. 28, they had the same message: The armed person was still on the loose and we were supposed to remain in place. That was all we knew in the hour-long lockdown.
The lack of information and events of Sept. 13 were frustratingly reminiscent of Aug. 28. A frustration that makes us wonder if anything will ever change. If we will ever be prepared enough; if we will ever stop the threat of gun violence on campus and elsewhere. If we will ever just be able to walk to class safely.