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Email, Text Messages ‘Most Useful’ During UNC Shooting

The survey asked respondents to answer one open-ended question about their key takeaway from the experience. The most prevalent responses to that question centered around three themes, according to the university’s summary.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(TNS) - More than three months after an on-campus shooting at UNC-Chapel Hill left a faculty member dead, survey results provided by the university give more insight into how members of the campus community felt about UNC’s response to the incident.

The survey results, which the university released in a summarized format Monday, are from an online feedback portal the university opened in mid-September for students, faculty, staff and families to provide “preliminary comments on what worked and what could work better based on” their firsthand experiences during the hourslong lockdown on Aug. 28. The portal opened minutes before the university went into a second gun-related lockdown on Sept. 13.

The survey asked respondents to answer one open-ended question about their key takeaway from the experience. The most prevalent responses to that question centered around three themes, according to the university’s summary:

▪ Improving the Alert Carolina system used to notify campus of emergencies.Some members of the campus community, including faculty, said after the Aug. 28 incident that the language used in the alert messages, which said there was “an armed and dangerous person on or near campus” did not accurately convey that there was a shooting.

Survey results showed that the initial Alert Carolina messages, sent by email and text message, and the “all clear” message were “the most useful,” the university said, while results regarding the usefulness of messages sent during the event were split. More than half of respondents said messages posted to the Alert Carolina website were less useful.

▪ Improving emergency training at the university, including requiring such training for faculty and staff and ensuring faculty know whether they should pause instruction during an emergency.

As reported by The News & Observer, the university does not currently require active shooter training for faculty at the university, despite receiving recommendations to do so in a 2020 audit. Some students also recounted to The N&O in the days following the shooting that their professors did not pause instruction during the event, despite university emergency preparedness materials appearing to recommend professors do so.

▪ Improving safety infrastructure at the university, including by ensuring all windows and doors can properly lock and be secured.

Previously, responding to a public records request from The N&O, the university said the majority of campus classrooms have interior door locks after a multi-year project “to provide additional security in campus classrooms,” which began in 2018 but was not completed until September this year.

Who responded to the UNC survey?

More than 3,300 people responded to the optional feedback survey, with students accounting for more than one-third — about 1,200 respondents — of those. About 27% of respondents were family members of students, 26% were staff, 9% were faculty and 2% identified as other.

“I was pleased with the response rate and also the distribution of respondents, with more than a third being students,” Darrell Jeter, the university’s director of emergency management and planning, said in a news release. “I think that speaks volumes as it relates to the students’ interest in what happened that day and also their interest in making sure that the University can learn from this moving forward.”

Half of respondents were on campus during the Aug. 28 incident, with others off campus — either local to Chapel Hill and Carrboro or not local to the area.

The N&O previously requested individual survey results through the university’s public records office. The university did not provide those documents, instead providing the summary.

The results are one part of an ongoing effort to review the university’s response to the Aug. 28 event. The university is using a third-party vendor “to help analyze the incident and response and provide recommendations” for the university’s emergency plans going forward. That review is expected to be completed by March.

Further updates about the university’s review of the Aug. 28 incident will be available at campussafety.unc.edu/news/aug-28-2023-campus-shooting-response.

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