IBS Response to the King Soopers Shooting on 3/22/21

It’s impossible to communicate the depth of sorrow and anger over the events at the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder on Monday March 22, 2021. Our hearts go out to the families of those who died. We honor them here with by listing their names and taking a moment to grieve their lives that were cut short:

 

Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Rikki Olds, 25; Neven Stanisic, 23; Denny Stong, 20; Eric Talley, 51; and Jody Waters, 65.

 

 

The loss of life and of confidence in our safety is beyond deplorable, and the responsiveness and courage of our police is worthy of the highest praise. We hope and pray for a world where no one ever resorts to gun violence for any reason.  We want to reiterate the many resources available to help cope and work through this experience. 

Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey created a list of ways to support your ownself, the larger community, and students from a conversation he had with the CU Office of Victim's Assistance (OVA). Here's another list of 

Whatever we are feeling is normal and ok.

Everyone experiences things differently (from strong emotions to numbness or feeling nothing at all) and at different times – this is both normal and OK.

It is important for us, as educators

To acknowledge the above with students in our discussions with them. It helps each of us feel less isolated and isolation is one of the biggest things crisis counselors see that people feel in crisis situations.

For us to offer a space of listening (as best we can) for students in our class, of validating the scariness and range of emotions, that all people move through these experiences very differently at different times.

That we NOT open these listening opportunities in a large classroom setting because of the range of emotional expressions present can create unintended fallout with students comparing themselves to others’ experiences, feeling more isolated, feeling abnormal, etc.

That we offer leniency to students in the class, whether on an individual or case-by-case basis or class-wide, leniency for when (or even IF) students make up assignments, leniency for unexcused absences, leniency in whatever capacity we feel makes sense for us and the classes we lead. According to the counselor I spoke with, the evidence indicates that leniency in classes is one of the biggest things we can do (aside from normalizing their feelings and reducing isolation) that helps students feel like they CAN move forward.

Ask students to think of those they trust, then reach out and connect with them, whether a roommate, a family member or a trusted friend. Encourage them to connect with others (speaks to helping “decrease a person's sense of isolation”).

If we feel comfortable, share with students our own experiences with coping with crisis and how we move through things, things that worked and did not, so students can see/hear other ways of coping they may not have thought of and it normalizes that whatever we’re feeling is OK and that there are many ways we can cope.

Share with students the “web of resources” available that are designed to provide help at the individual level (see any of the emails from various University people in the recent week).

Lastly, the counselor mentioned that it is important for each of us to acknowledge (repeatedly and also explicitly with the students) that there is no way we can do this alone, that we cannot help everyone…and that this feels awful. Then encourage students to reach out, connect with the resources, connect with those they trust, let them know that what they feel is ok, is normal, that they are not alone, that these resources are here to help each of us individually.

The shooting last week and subsequent aftermath is also a good reminder to install a shortcut on our computers to the CU Boulder “Red Folder” – it is a great starting place for finding resources to help with crises. If you have not installed a shortcut on your own computer to this resource, you can do so at https://www.colorado.edu/redfolder/.

As always, take care of yourself and reach out for support in whatever ways you need it. 

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