Student safety and well-being: a message to students

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dear Students,

Over the past several days, we have faced significant challenges on our campus. Saturday was an especially difficult day. I was particularly touched by the messages I received from so many of you expressing concern and support for Anna Smith's family, and for everyone at Appalachian.

I want you to know that the safety and well-being of our students is my top priority. In order to learn, you must have a safe and healthy learning environment, and I take my responsibility for providing this environment very seriously.

It is important for you to know there are many efforts taking place to keep our students safe:

  • Over the past several days, you have received several communications encouraging you to use resources available for you, including the Counseling Center, Safe Ride, Residence Hall staff and University Police. You can read all of these communications, and find links to the information and resources we provide for you, at
  • Our faculty and staff have also been reminded about the resources available to them so they can be sure they are equipped to help you. Please know you can reach out to Appalachian’s faculty and staff – they stand ready to help you.
  • The Counseling Center offers resources specifically for students to help support other students. I encourage you to visit this website and become familiar with the information provided. Open communication with parents, loved ones and friends is often the most valuable resource any of our students can have. The Counseling Center offers information for your parents in addition to the many other resources available on their website.
  • In response to requests from students and parents, I have asked our University Police to increase foot, bike and vehicle patrols. University Police will also provide rides for our students who request shuttle service after regular Safe Ride hours.
  • Suicide prevention education and awareness are critically important. I’d like to make you aware of specific resources and training we make available.
  • Sexual assault prevention is key to a safe learning environment, and I want to send a loud and clear message that those who do not live by a code of mutual consent and respect are not welcome in the Appalachian community. We have been focusing our efforts on a combination of education, awareness and clear and swift action within the Student Conduct process.
  • Awareness about alcohol and drugs, and information on how to make safer choices, are also key components to the safety messages we provide our students. Appalachian’s Wellness Center provides information to help understand the risks that are involved with alcohol and drug use.
  • The Office of Parent and Family Services provides regular communications to parents. If your parents are not receiving communications from this office, please encourage them to sign up by visiting
  • Please feel free to contact the Dean of Students Office at 828-262-8284 if you would like to speak with someone about these or other resources, or need further information you cannot find.
  • Your Student Body President, Carson Rich, will be communicating with you soon about student efforts planned for the near future.

I have heard from many, many students asking how they can support Anna’s family, and how they can support one another now and into the future. This outpouring of care and compassion reaffirms my faith in our remarkable student body.

Student Development will place a memorial book in Plemmons Student Union for Anna’s family. This book will be given to them as an expression of our concern and care. As we receive information regarding services for Anna, a notice will be sent to the campus community with those arrangements. Please continue to keep Anna’s entire family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

Our administration, faculty and staff embrace our mission to equip our students to live with knowledge, compassion, dedication, humility and dignity. I want you, our students, to know that at Appalachian, we will not be a community of bystanders; rather, we will stand up to ensure the safety of our students, and of the entire Appalachian community.


/s/ Sheri N. Everts

Sheri N. Everts