UNLV Prioritizes Student Well Being After Tragic Campus Shooting

Melanie VanDerveer
Melanie VanDerveer

After the tragic campus shooting last week, the University of Nevada - Las Vegas is taking major steps to help students process and heal.

The college, located in the heart of Las Vegas, has made some big decisions about the end of the semester to help students and staff after dealing with the trauma of an active shooter on campus, and three lives lost. They are also making mental health a major focus for all affected.

UNLV Made Decisions On How To End The Fall Semester

Melanie VanDerveer

UNLV recently announced on their website and social media pages that students will not return to campus for classes or finals this semester. And with next week being the college's finals week, the school made some big decisions on how to handle the end of the semester.

"We have made the decision to cancel next week's scheduled final exams as traditionally delivered. There will be no on-campus, in-person finals this fall. Instead, we are providing flexibility for faculty and instructors - as well as students - to bring their semester to a positive end," an Instagram Story reads.

"Students will end the semester with the grade they have earned based on work completed before Dec. 6."

The statement also explains that some faculty may opt to have an online final exam or a take-home project to allow student to improve their grade. Another Story slide explains how after fall grades are posted, students will have the opportunity to opt-in to S/U grading.

UNLV - Instagram Story

When UNLV shared information about all classes and activities being canceled through Sunday, Dec. 10 shortly after the shooting occurred, many students left their thoughts on how the rest of the semester should be handled.


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"Please do not make me come back to campus four days after running for my life to take an exam. Let me fly home. I want to be with my parents and process and grieve," one student wrote. Another added, "Please just let us go home. Cancel finals and let us grieve and process what we all experienced today."

A few alumni also chimed in on making a decision to cancel the rest of the semester.

"As a UNLV alum please end the semester early. No one is in the headspace to deal with finals and other things, students and teachers alike," one alumni said.

Another said, "As an alumna of UNLV, I support the students’ calls for cancellation of the rest of the semester. Let them heal. Let them grieve. Let those in the dorms go home. These students need time. There’s no way they will be able to adequately prepare for, let alone excel at, their final exams with the weight of this horrendous tragedy on their shoulders."

Contributed Photo - Melanie VanDerveer

With winter commencement scheduled for Dec. 19 and 20, UNLV wanted to ensure everyone was on the same page about whether it should be canceled or held as planned.

"We’ve heard from students – and their parents and loved ones – who have expressed their feelings about Winter Commencement, which is currently scheduled for Dec. 19 and 20 at the Thomas & Mack Center. One common thread that emerged was a desire to come together. The milestone moment of commencement is the most special day on the university calendar, and it's in difficult times like these that we can and should celebrate our graduates’ academic dreams fulfilled," a statement on the school's website from President Keith Whitfield reads.

"With that in mind, we have decided to proceed with our planned commencement ceremonies on Dec. 19 (12 p.m. and 5 p.m. for undergraduates) and Dec. 20 (4 p.m. for master’s and doctoral degree recipients). We know that the trauma of this week’s tragedy impacts each one of us in different ways. For those eligible to participate in this winter’s commencement who choose not to attend at this time, you will have the option to walk and participate fully during the May 2024 commencement ceremonies. We believe these decisions regarding finals and commencement provide flexibility for both students and faculty, and offer the best path forward for our university."

UNLV Is Making Mental Health A Priority For Students, Faculty And Staff

Melanie VanDerveer

With mental health being such an important focus in today's world, UNLV has ensured that the students, faculty, staff and the community have the resources necessary to heal from this traumatic event. In addition to Student Counseling & Psychological Services, The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is offering services to address community needs for trauma related care.

A few Instagram Stories shared by UNLV focus on the mental health of the students and community.

"UNLV is offering a number of mental health and counseling services to help the campus community process the traumatic Dec. 6 campus shooting," the Story reads. "We encourage anyone coping with the impacts of trauma to reach out to any of the following services."

A link to a website dedicated to resources was also given on the Story slide.

Psychotherapist Trudy Gilbert Eliot spoke about how to handle and heal from trauma on a recent episode of Good Morning Las Vegas.

"Unfortunately, a lot of that reaction does involve thinking in ways that can feel uncomfortable, a lot of very, very strong emotions, a lot of reactions that may be atypical for the person. But this usually works its way through for more people in about three to four weeks," Eliot said. "If you can get really good rest, you're going to facilitate your brain being able to work its way through all of this work."

Eliot also suggested having a good support system and talking to people about your feelings on a daily basis.