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UNLV Returns To Campus For Spring Semester After Tragic Shooting: 'Unlike Any We've Experienced'

Home / News / UNLV Returns To Campus For Spring Semester After Tragic Shooting: 'Unlike Any We've Experienced'

By Melanie VanDerveer on January 13, 2024 at 8:15 PM EST
Updated on January 14, 2024 at 11:20 AM EST

UNLV students, faculty, and staff will return to campus for the first time since the tragic December 6 shooting that claimed the lives of three professors and critically injured a fourth.

Ahead of the start of the spring semester, University President Keith E. Whitfield released information about how the semester, "unlike any we've experienced," will be different from previous semesters, mental health resources, and more.

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UNLV Students Return To Campus For The First Time Since Tragic Shooting

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Melanie VanDerveer

"Next week, as we begin the spring semester, many of you will return to the UNLV campus for the first time since Dec. 6. I know that this semester will be unlike any we’ve experienced as a university, as we individually and collectively process last month’s tragedy and continue our recovery together," Whitfield wrote in an online statement.

"I also understand that this process is different for everyone. We will heal as individuals and as a university, but it’s going to take time, and we won’t rush it. As you continue your Rebel journey with us this spring, be assured that UNLV remains fully committed to the safety and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff."

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Students can expect to see an increase in security by university police as well as a private security firm, according to the statement. An emergency notification system, RebelSAFE Alert, is used for "incidents that present an imminent threat to life, health, or safety to UNLV students, employees, faculty, and community members."

"All UNLV students and employees are automatically enrolled in the system and will receive an email notification when an emergency or disaster occurs," an Instagram Story on UNLV's page reads.

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Mental Health And Wellness Is Also A Focus As Students Return To Campus

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UNLV is offering a variety of student resources to help mental and emotional wellness, with events, drop-in and group-based trauma therapy sessions and more.

"The road to recovery will be focused, inclusive, compassionate, and driven by the notion that the safety, security, and well-being of the UNLV family - our employees and students - is our priority. This program will be an ongoing and evolving effort," an Instagram Story reads.

"We're committed to giving students a voice in our campus recovery, and we'll host a series of student-focused events, focus groups, and activities throughout the semester."

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Another Instagram Story explains that while progress is being made on building repairs throughout campus, Beam Hall, home of Lee Business School where the shooting took place, will remain closed during the spring semester and any classes previously scheduled to be held in Beam Hall will be moved to another part of campus or to remote instruction.

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UNLV also shared a post on Instagram about the start of the spring semester and the return to campus, and some left supportive comments.

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"We are strong rebels ❤️," one person wrote. Another added, "Continued healing and recovery and support. ❤️."

New Body Cam Footage Was Recently Released

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Melanie VanDerveer

New body cam footage of the December campus shooting was recently released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on their YouTube page. In the footage, officers are seen rushing onto campus and trying to locate the shooter.

The newly shared footage is the second set of videos released by the police department.

The shooter, Anthony Polito, was armed with a handgun and was carrying around 150 rounds and 11 magazines. Investigators found a list of targets in his apartment and learned that he had mailed more than 20 letters to UNLV faculty and to staff at East Carolina University where he was previously employed.

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Remembering The Victims Of The December 6 Shooting

On December 13, the university honored the three professors who lost their lives on campus on December 6.

"Today we honored the lives of three cherished UNLV faculty members, Dr. Jerry Cha-Jan Chang, Dr. Patricia Navarro Velez, and Dr. Naoko Takemaru. We will always remember the legacies of and impact. Our hearts continue to be with their loved ones," the caption reads.

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Many community members, students, and staff joined together on campus to remember the three professors during the vigil held on campus. The university shared photos from the day on Instagram.

"I appreciate & am grateful to be part of such a strong UNLV community. My heart continues to be hurt, but I know we will continue to heal & rise together ❤️," one person wrote in the comments. "Still feels so heavy💔may their souls rest in peace🙏🏾 #unlvstrong," wrote another.

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