How BEH has been Impacted Following Dec. 6

BEH blocked off as there is a cleanup of anything left from December 6. Photo Taken Dec 8 by Abbie Millman.

Following the tragic shooting of three faculty members on Dec 6, access to the Frank and Estella Beam Hall (BEH) has been restricted to primarily those whose offices are located inside the building.

As of currently, some exceptions to who is granted access to the building include students part of certain organizations or who work in BEH. Professors are allowed to bring students inside the building, but they must escort them out as well.

Not only are students prohibited from accessing the building as they chose, but many classes that have previously been planned to be taught in the building were moved to another location or a different medium.

One of the most impacted departments has been the language department, which holds its offices of professors who instruct students of various languages on the third floor. Specifically for these professors, ways in which they are able to hold office hours with students have changed.

Andrew Kauffman, who has been with the UNLV Language Department instructing Chinese since July 2022, was already familiar with holding online office hours during his time teaching at a small liberal arts college in Minnesota at the height of the 2020 pandemic.

To accommodate the situation, Kauffman has taken the initiative not only to hold office hours over video call but also provides his students with the option to meet in-person at a different location like the Student Union.

“I have a student coming in on Monday that wants to meet with me in-person, so for him, I’ll go downstairs and escort him in. I know other faculty members have done that as well. If a student is adamant about meeting with me in person, I’m more than willing to accommodate them. It just involves a bit more logistical type things on my part to go downstairs and get them and then also to walk them out,” said Kauffman.

Up to this point in the semester, there remains limited knowledge and a large amount of uncertainty on the future of BEH. Factors to consider include how to memorialize victims, bring the building back to a sense of normalcy, how to engage with people in the building and more. 

In fact, questions of whether or not to keep the building or start somewhere new have been raised. The various departments as well as the administration at UNLV are still trying to think through the best possible answer to these questions, yet there is no resolution at this point.

“Having that in-person option is really important. It gets students to come up here and see what an office is like and sort of break down some of the barriers. There is this natural hierarchy within higher ed that creates this distance between educators and learners. I think the more we can do to help break that down, the better it is for both parties,” said Kauffman.

While Kauffman and many other instructors who feel the impacts of the changed environment at BEH hope the building will be opened back up to the public by summer or fall, there is the acknowledgement that there will likely be heightened security.

“I also think it’s kind of cool for students to be able to walk through the building and wander around. Maybe they go in the wrong place and they wander over here and they find an office. Maybe they stumble on a French instructor they used to have a semester ago or a year ago. It just makes it more fun and sociable, and that’s much more lively. I miss hearing voices in the hallway,” continued Kauffman.

Paralleling the voices of instructors, students of the language department have also been advocating for in-person classes in BEH to resume because of the unnatural task of learning a language through virtual call.

As of right now, it seems to be that the best option moving forward is to take into account the experiences of everyone from students to staff and keep those in mind when the final decision of how to proceed with the use of BEH has been made.


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