Christine Reed Davis oral history interview 2, 2020 December 9
In this second of two interviews, Dr. Christine Reed Davis, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at UNC Charlotte, discusses the aftermath and effects of the April 30, 2019 mass shooting on campus. Dr. Davis describes the emergency communications systems and strategies that were in place prior to the shooting. She stresses the importance of the Emergency Operations Center designed to coordinate communications and responsibilities in a crisis, and coordination between the Chancellor's Cabinet and Policy Group. Previous crises had tested and strengthened these systems so that, despite the chaos and confusion of unfolding real-time events, the immediate response to the shooting event was coordinated and collaborative. Dr. Davis details her central role in the response, which was to support student victims including all students enrolled in the targeted class as well as those who were injured. She describes the outpouring of support and sympathy that was expressed by the student body and the wider Charlotte community, and how she and her team coordinated the collection of donations and mementos sent to the families of deceased and injured students. In addition to a focus on students, Dr. Davis relates how she collaborated on creating training sessions for faculty and staff towards the end of the summer in preparation for addressing student concerns in the fall. She also became aware of a need for students who had been directly affected by the shooting to meet as a support group, which she was able to coordinate for several sessions until the COVID pandemic caused everything to close down in the spring of 2010. She remarks on the impacts of the shooting on students that varied from survivor guilt, to post traumatic stress disorder, anger, fear, and resiliency. She marvels at the resourcefulness, courage, and strength of student leaders who immediately came together to mourn and begin to heal the campus community, and also the students who took steps to involve themselves in political activism for policy change. Dr. Davis reflects that her own career has not changed significantly as a result of the shooting since her focus has always been crisis management, but rather that the event re-emphasized aspects of her work that were already central, including the importance of relationship building, transparency in leadership, and living one's values. She relates her personal thoughts about how to memorialize April 30, and her concerns that the COVID 19 pandemic has in many ways eclipsed the healing process and disguised any cultural shifts in the student body that otherwise might have taken shape as a result of the tragedy.