The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt community shocked, sorrowed by Aug. 28 shooting, Sept. 13 lockdown at UNC-Chapel Hill

A graduate student was arrested for the murder of a UNC faculty member on Aug. 28.
Lexie Perez
A graphic depicting the Chapel Hill skyline in Carolina blue. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

The Vanderbilt community reacted with shock and sorrow to news of a fatal shooting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Aug. 28. UNC went into lockdown again on Sep. 13 after a man pulled a gun during an argument at an on-campus bagel shop; no one was harmed. 

Tailei Qi, a graduate student, was arrested and charged with the murder of associate applied physics professor Dr. Zijie Yan. In an Aug. 29 email to the Vanderbilt community, Dean of Students G.L. Black described the shooting as a “tense and tragic evening,” urging Vanderbilt students to utilize university resources and emphasizing Vanderbilt’s commitment to campus safety.

“Our thoughts are with the UNC-Chapel Hill community as they begin to process what occurred. This news is deeply upsetting, and it is understandable that acts of violence, particularly when they occur on college campuses, leave many of us shaken,” Black said. “Please know your safety and well-being are our priority.”

Black also highlighted the university’s ongoing campus-wide security review, announced on June 21, which brings together several departments to assess Vanderbilt’s preparedness for an active shooter scenario.

Helena Spigner, a junior and president of Vanderbilt Students Demand Action, said while her heart went out to those impacted, she wants to see action taken to address the issue.

“Instead of offering condolences, I would like to challenge our lawmakers to enact real change,” Spigner said. “If more guns in more places made us safer, we’d be the safest country in the world, but we’re not.”

Zack Maaieh, a junior and a legislative lead for Vanderbilt SDA, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the events at Chapel Hill.

“I wish we could say this was a shock, but it’s not,” Maaieh said. “We know these shootings are preventable. We just need lawmakers to have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and act on gun safety.”

Maaieh also encouraged the university to use its resources to take money out of the gun lobby.

“As students, it’s devastating when administrators only offer their thoughts and prayers to such a massive issue that’s costing countless lives,” Maaieh said. “Vanderbilt has the financial and civic power to make a difference in the gun violence prevention movement in Tennessee, rather than only pursue reactive solutions.”

Dr. Brianna Castro, Vanderbilt assistant professor of sociology and UNC alumna, expressed sympathy for the Tar Heel community, saying she was shaken by the events.

“At times like these, the solidarity and support of faculty, students and alumni of UNC and other campuses across the country such as Vanderbilt are critical in helping those impacted mourn, heal, and persevere,” Castro said. “Close friends of mine on faculty at UNC were on campus when this occurred, and that hit especially close to home for me.”

Rainey Campbell, a junior at UNC and a friend of Hustler staff writer Annika Koch, was across the street in her lab class when the Aug. 28 shooting occurred.

“I was sitting at a table with three of my new lab partners when someone came into the room and said something that most people thought was a crude joke: ‘Get under cover, someone has a gun,’” Campbell said. “It wasn’t until we received the Alert Carolina message a few minutes later that we understood the scope of the situation.”

Campbell told The Hustler she hid with her classmates behind a barricaded door for 3.5 hours as police worked to apprehend the shooter.

“We could see into the buildings across from us where other faces could be found cautiously peering out of classroom windows,” Campbell said. “My class was right next to the shooting, but every student felt the silence during those hours. Every student was faced with the reality that their friends were in danger and all we could do was wait quietly.”

Campbell also expressed discouragement with the speed at which the country has moved on from the tragedy. 

“It seemed to have garnered a lot of attention; even Joe Biden reposted the front cover of our newspaper,” Campbell said. “However, the media coverage died down within the week, and we have turned to a statistic.”

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About the Contributors
Parker Smith
Parker Smith, Former Deputy News Editor
Parker Smith ('24) is majoring in computer science and political science in the School of Engineering. He enjoys playing guitar in his spare time and is a former Starbucks barista and self-proclaimed coffee expert. He can be reached at [email protected].
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Editor
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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