University Releases Findings of Aug. 28 Shooting Aftermath

Enhancing the Alert Carolina notification system, improving preparedness and training, and addressing perceived problems in UNC’s safety infrastructure were issues students and faculty cited in an online survey after the shooting death of a UNC professor.

The University set up a website to gather feedback on how the University handled communication during the Aug. 28 shooting of Zijie Yan, a professor in the applied physical sciences department. The University plans to use the responses to conduct a formal after-action review with a third-party vendor.

Students, faculty, staff, parents and families were invited to share their feedback about the shooting through the portal from Sept. 13 to 23. Suggestions to improve emergency response included more frequent and detailed updates, clearer language in initial messages and improved delivery of information during incidents.

Respondents also provided feedback on the effectiveness of emergency communication tools, giving the highest ratings to the initial Alert Carolina text notification that a shooting had occurred on campus and the “all clear” notification. Opinions were divided on the effectiveness of Alert Carolina updates during the incident.

“You can’t know what you don’t know,” George Battle ’95 (’99 JD), vice chancellor for institutional integrity and risk management, said in a statement accompanying the release of the survey results. “So, when things actually happen, you see, Okay, this went wrong, this went right or this didn’t land the way we thought it would.”

Out of 3,362 responses to the survey, 36 percent were from students, 27 percent from family members of students, 26 percent from staff, 9 percent from faculty and 2 percent from those who identified as “other.” Half of the respondents reported being on campus during the incident.

“It’s crucial that we get the viewpoint of the folks who are affected by it — the folks who we’re trying to reach with our emergency messaging, the folks who were in lockdown,” Battle said.

To read the full summary, visit the Institutional Integrity and Risk Management website, which will also provide updates on the ongoing after-action review process.

– Cameron Hayes Fardy ’23

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