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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: Two times too many


Alpine Bagel Cafe is closed for business inside of the Student Union on Wednesday, Sept.13, 2023, after reports of an armed and dangerous person on or near campus.

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. 

Some instructors, as they did last time, continued to teach. As unempathetic as this feels, there was no set protocol they could follow, even after experiencing the same situation weeks ago.  

Wednesday’s lockdown and its proximity to Aug. 28’s shooting is a reminder that this could happen again. At a public university with an open campus, there is only so much preparation and training we can do to protect ourselves. Since the shooting, no tangible changes in security or on-campus protective policies have been implemented moving forward, which has allowed for such incidents to continue happening in terrifyingly close proximity to students. 

Change must happen now.

Every day the UNC community spends recovering from the loss and trauma we’ve experienced and preparing for the possibility of worse events in the future, we feel the inaction of those with legislative power more. We feel the impact of those who are not only failing to step up to protect us but are introducing laws that make guns more accessible and make safety from guns more difficult.

Because even behind barricaded doors, none of us are bulletproof. If legislators at the state and national level care about our livelihoods, they need to realize that two lockdowns in the first month of classes are two times too many. And that we are done hiding. 


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