On Aug. 28, the University of North Carolina changed forever. Graduate student Tailei Qi murdered Zijie Yan in a science building on campus. The fact that some have already forgotten about this tragedy or didn't hear about it at all speaks volumes about the state of our country. Gun violence is all around us, and we must stop being desensitized to it.
The students and professors at UNC may have thought nothing of this nature could happen to them. Because of Qi, they are now re-sensitized to the quandary of gun violence. This incident can potentially create powerful stories and messages that inspire action and change.
Emmy Martin, The Daily Tar Heel's editor-in-chief, filled the school newspaper's cover with text messages sent and received during the event. In an interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Martin explained, "So much of our coverage is, of course, going to shift to the aftermath of a school shooting." This cover virally called attention to the plight of school shootings, and it is just the beginning of more powerful coverage that will continue to ask for gun control and reform.
I am beside myself trying to imagine covering such a devastating event as a student journalist. Martin, who published her second-ever issue as editor-in-chief amidst a school shooting, had a difficult job to get done. Between tears and trauma, the staff still covered the events in the community timely and accurately.
The chilling messages featured on the cover help those of us who haven't experienced gun violence understand their fears and pain. I can say with a high level of certainty that even those that don't desire gun control would never want to be in a position where they are sending or receiving texts like, "Barricade the door or if you think you can run and get to a place that can lock do so," or "I'm in class everyone is losing it people are literally shaking." I hope these vulnerable and personal messages make people more aware of what is actually happening and why they shouldn't defend looser gun laws.
Credit is plenty due to the law enforcement for not allowing this to escalate into what would be considered a mass shooting. However, many students are criticizing the way the school handled the situation. Micah Baldonado, UNC student, recalls sitting at his desk crying while his teacher continued teaching 30 minutes after being alerted of an active shooter on campus.
While the professor may not have wanted to induce panic, in all honesty, there is more than enough reason to panic. Guns have killed over 29,000 people in 2023.
While the coverage from The Daily Tar Heel is powerful and inspiring and the stories from students on campus are chilling, I fear it will have the same outcome as every other shooting in America. It will get pushed to the side and forgotten; no change will be made. It's shameful.
The next time gun laws are on the ballot, remember the text messages and the stories. Remember that UNC is one of many. Remember Zeiji Yan.
Layne Rey is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Let Layne know by tweeting her @laynerey12.