LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The first day of classes is supposed to be an exciting day.

At UNLV, the excitement about a new semester, new classmates, and new professors is tempered by the lingering, scary images of the Dec. 6 campus shooting.

“I’m more worried about the students than myself,” Jason DeMaria, with the UNLV Office of Admissions said.

On Tuesday, DeMaria worked at a booth for students to come by and ask any additional questions.

“We had that time to heal with one another, and I think now we are just paying that forward in making sure we are there for everyone else,” DeMaria said.

The booth sat by Beam Hall, where a gunman walked in and killed three professors and injured a fourth.

“This morning, I was mostly anxious. I was thinking what could have changed,” Letecia Vasquez, a freshman said. “Seeing faculty walking about makes me feel better, because they feel safer, so I feel safer.”

Safety seemed to be a topic weighing heavy on many minds Tuesday.

“We are here to protect. We are here to ensure we have a safe environment on campus and that is our main priority,” Arnold Vasquez, Assistant Director with University Police said.

Vasquez said university police have increased their presence on campus and hired private security guards to patrol the grounds.

“I’m glad to see everyone in good spirits. I’m glad nobody was too afraid to come back,” sophomore Wintana Arega said.

Along with an increase in security, students and staff were greeted by four paws and a wet nose.

“I just got here, and I am already in a good mood,” Arega said as she was petting therapy dogs. “I am already wanting to take on the day.”

The therapy dogs were part of the Courtroom Critters program to help faculty and students navigate through this new normal.

“The staff needs us, and the dogs just as much as the students do,” Stephanie Loffredo with Courtroom Critters said.

The therapy dogs will also be on campus on Wednesday. As for Beam Hall, FOX5 is told that will still be closed for the rest of the semester.

Students who had classes or were scheduled to meet with their advisors there are being moved or will be remote.


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