Dealing With Ongoing Gun Violence in Society

February 14,2023

Dear Lynx community,

Overnight and this morning, we have been processing news both devastating and familiar. Yesterday’s tragic shootings at Michigan State University, and another gun-related tragedy across our city at East High School , add to dozens of mass shootings that have already occurred throughout the U.S. this year. While these most directly affect the victims and surviving friends and family members, they have a ripple effect on many of us. This type of violence undermines our sense of safety in public settings, and violates our ideal that a campus of learning ought to be a place where people can freely interact without fear of harm.

As CU Denver’s chancellor, I grapple with these tragedies professionally as a leader of a public university with an urban campus, and personally as the mother of a college student. I empathize deeply with those who’ve had experiences on or near our campus or elsewhere that challenge their sense of safety or comfort. Below, I share a few updates in this regard and remind you of the many health and well-being resources available to faculty, staff, and students.

  • Emergency Management: In November, we stood up a CU Denver-centric Emergency Management division, under the leadership of Director Essi Ellis, to ensure a more coordinated and proactive emergency management operation . Essi has been instrumental in bolstering our public safety infrastructure, creating more opportunities for trainings, and developing a stronger relationship with our AHEC colleagues and the Auraria Campus Police Department (ACPD). To that point, AHEC is beginning its search for a new chief of police for the ACPD, and we have requested community involvement in the process.
  • Anti-Violence Initiative: In May , I charged Provost Nakuma and a cross-section of Cabinet with examining the issue of gun violence in an inclusive and interdisciplinary manner looking at the intersection of guns, race, and mental health. The initiative is now part of our strategic plan roadmaps, and the working group assigned to lead this work is partnering with Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Affairs Turan Kayaoglu and the Faculty Assembly’s Ethnic Diversity Council to build out a structure that facilitates community conversations on relevant social and cultural issues. Faculty, staff, and students will be provided a platform to participate in these conversations with an aim to foster research collaborations and determine how we as individuals and a community can positively impact the issues of our day.
  • Campus Resources: I want to remind you of campus resources available to support your well-being.

Like many of you, I will be thinking of the Michigan State University and East High School communities today, as well as the many other communities that routinely experience gun and other forms of violence. Please take time to prioritize your own mental health in the coming days and weeks, and be alert to peers who may be struggling and in need of comfort. And join me in not only hoping for better days ahead but also in working toward them.

Michelle Mark signature

Michelle Marks

Chancellor’s Office

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street

Suite 1400

Denver, CO 80204


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