Nikolai Mather oral history interview, 2019 November 15
Nikolai Mather shares his experience as a student and journalist at UNC Charlotte on April 30, 2019, when a former student opened fire on a classroom, killing two students and injuring four others. He recounts his decision to leave his dorm lockdown in order to report on the deadly event as it was unfolding. Nikolai discusses the actions he took to report on the shooting and his collaboration with fellow Niner Times student journalists and local and national reporters and photojournalists. He shares what it was like to grow up doing active shooter drills and how that shaped his reaction to the event at UNC Charlotte. He also shares how the increased police presence on campus was unsettling for him and many of their LGBTQ, Black and Latino friends. Nikolai recounts what it was like to attend the May 1 vigil in Halton Arena. He also describes an off-campus shooting on May 1, 2019, in which one person was killed and the March for our Lives rally which occurred on campus in the days after the shooting. Throughout the interview Nikolai shares his approach to reporting on the tragedy with empathy, respect, and sensitivity and describes how his experience as a student of the Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies affects his personal approach to journalism. Finally, Nikolai discusses personal and collective post-traumatic stress, describes the trauma he felt interviewing eyewitnesses and survivors for the newspaper, and reflects on the impact that the shooting has had on his own personal sense of safety on campus.