Several changes at Texas A&M University-Commerce were announced in an email from President Dr. Mark Rudin to students, staff and faculty.
The changes were announced after several days of hurt and tension following a shooting at a Halloween party just west of Greenville that was attended by a sizable number of university students on Homecoming weekend. The shooting took the lives of two men, Kevin Berry, 23, of Dallas, and Byron Craven Jr., 23, of Arlington. In addition, six more were hit by gunfire and another six were injured attempting to escape the venue.
Neither of the fatalities were A&M-Commerce students, but it was announced in a statement from Rudin on Sunday that four students were reported injured but have since been released from area hospitals.
The shooting rocked the campus community, with many students expressing their thoughts and concerns on social media. A planned community gathering on campus to reflect on the incident was postponed due to safety concerns following gunshots at a Dallas vigil for Berry, one of the deceased.
A massive push from students on social media using the hashtag #WeDemandTime advocated for a cancellation of classes to allow students to seek counseling and to process the events that occurred. Following an announcement that all absences on Monday would be excused, Rudin made the call to cancel classes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Wednesday, Rudin sent out another statement that announced a few changes and additions for the well being of the university community following the shooting.
"Dear Students, on behalf of A&M-Commerce, I send my deepest sympathy to those affected by the events that happened this past weekend," Rudin said in an email. "We understand that people process trauma differently, and that healing takes time. As classes resume on Thursday, October 31, 2019, we have taken the following steps to ensure your mental well-being and safety."
The changes were stated as:
— Added extra patrol in residence halls, academic buildings and around campus.
— Continuous monitoring of social media with follow-up on pertinent information.
— University Police Department (UPD) is working closely with other law enforcement agencies.
— UPD is conducting focus groups to hear student and community concerns and responding appropriately.
— Expanding hours and locations of counseling and mental health services.
— Increasing the staffing levels and diversity of mental health professionals on campus.
— Initiating a campus-wide campaign to expand participation in the Pride Alert Warning System (PAWS).
— Initiating an emergency communications protocol review.
— Creating an online space for student input in regard to safety.
Rudin's email continued: " We know that some of our students will need additional time to transition back into classes. We have instructed our faculty to be sensitive and flexible in response to differences in how individuals grieve and cope. Please work with your respective professors and instructors if you need additional time and assistance."