Joel Avrin, a professor of mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is a longtime member of the UNC Charlotte community. On April 30, 2019, he was the president-elect of the faculty council. Here, he shares his remembrances of that day and the days that followed.
On the evening of April 30, I was standing in the atrium of Fretwell, ready to leave for home, when I ran into a colleague of mine, who explained that there was an active shooter on campus and we needed to stay and lockdown. So, I returned to my office and remained there for several hours as did many of my colleagues and students across campus.
I think it deserves mention that to pursue my career goals, like many of my faculty colleagues, I spent much of my college years in an area that exposed me to various levels of violent crime. Through that experience, I have developed a kind of constant vigilance. A useful tool, but not particularly one that I would wish on anyone.
As such, what I felt the evening of April 30 was not shock, just sadness. We had lost two precious lives – Riley Howell and Reed Parlier – to violence. I felt sadness also for those experiencing such violence for the first time and those who had thought that they had found precious refuge here from a life known before. But, with a touch of the world-weary in my eyes and a more soft-spoken manner, I returned to the task at hand. And we all did – together we have a job to do, and we must not let this stop us.
I think this is one of the ways we grew up as a community. We had experienced a loss of innocence in a terrible way, but we became a stronger unit of people, robustly tough, resilient and resourceful. I agree with those who say experiencing the tragedy of April 30 equipped our University to navigate COVID as well as we did. Together we have a job to do, and we must not let this stop us.
We are better equipped than ever before to handle future challenges, of which several already loom. But we know that we have a job to do and we know how to do it together. And nothing can stop us.
Published: April 28, 2023