“One of the hardest parts of sitting in that room was having the realization that I could die tonight, having it be a possible thing that could take place and it was out of my control,” said Julia Krantz, a junior at MSU.
The MSU Union is known as a gathering place for students that features study spaces, a food court, convenience store, arcade and bowling alley. It’s a destination for many student organizations to hold meetings and events, but for Krantz, it’s simply her favorite study spot on campus.
Krantz, like many other MSU students, regularly spends time at the Union for hours on end studying for exams and completing homework. On Feb.13, she was at the MSU Union in her designated study room in the basement talking to her mom on the phone when she saw “unusual chaos” going on through the glass door.
“There are a lot of people who walk through the union, but this time it seemed different. I walked outside to ask what was going on when someone running by said there was an active shooter,” said Krantz.
Quickly, she ran back to her study room, grabbed her iPad when screams started to emerge from the main level of the student union. She immediately “ran the fastest [she’s] ever ran” to Campbell Hall.
She recalled students standing idle in the dorm lobby waiting for instructions on what to do next until “people started to disperse up the stairs, into dorm rooms” and she followed until she reached an open room where she hid for the next four hours.
“At one point we heard the shooter may be in Campbell and I remember thinking of saying goodbyes because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Krantz. “Even though we were all strangers to each other, there was a lot of comforting, hugging and back rubs during the shelter in place.”
The days following the acts of violence on campus, the MSU community coined the phrase “Spartan Strong”, which represents the resilience of the Spartan community and is used as motivation for students to reclaim campus. It has been written, worn by rival universities, and amplified to students and faculty countless times over the past two weeks.
Krantz said that she was not immediately relieved when she was able to come out of shelter-in-place after finding out the gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“The shooter easily could’ve done that to himself and saved lives instead. He changed the trajectory of so many lives, but at the end of the day his trajectory could’ve stayed the same,” she said.
Krantz’ mother, Georgia Krantz, was on the phone with her when she found out there was danger on campus until she found shelter at Campbell Hall.
“It was probably the scariest thing, as a parent, to hear your child in such danger and you can’t do anything,” she said.
Krantz and her mother are originally from Williamston, about 30 minutes away from MSU’s campus. Familiar with the campus, Georgia advised her daughter to run immediately toward the dorms and to stay with others.
“The fear in Julia’s voice was terrifying to hear as a mom,” she said. “She said to me ‘just in case, I love you,’ another devastating comment to hear. To know her future wasn’t certain was running through her head was so sad.”
Georgia, along with thousands of others, was at home praying for her daughter and the MSU community when she contacted her church’s priest to say prayers for Julia.
Julia has grown to be one of my best friends at MSU and I am so honored to be given the opportunity and trust to share her story.
When I first heard about the active shooter, I knew the Union was her favorite place to study, so I started texting Julia when she was sheltered in place at Campbell Hall.
“Just in case of anything, I’m wearing the green KD sweatshirt with the teddy bear, a white baseball cap that says KayDee, black lulu leggings and white Champion tennis shoes,” she messaged.
Receiving text messages saying, “I don’t want to die” and “I love you, please just say a prayer” is another form of helplessness and something that no parent, friend, or family member should have to endure.
Following the violence on campus, Krantz, a kinesiology student, said returning to campus was hard but especially during her cadaver lab on Tuesday.
“I usually don’t mind working with cadavers, but it was especially hard seeing a dead body so soon after people had passed away on this campus,” said Krantz.
Now finishing the second week back in class and on campus, Krantz “know[s] what happened here was tragic and it shouldn’t happen anywhere, but [she won’t] let this one moment define who [she] is. [She doesn’t] want to victimize [her]self.”
After events like this take place, everyone heals in their own way. For Krantz, healing consists of going to class, out with friends, and returning to some kind of normalcy the best she can.
“Our hearts are heavy,” MSU Head Basketball Coach Tom Izzo said at the university’s candlelight vigil on February 15. “Our loss has been great. Our lives have been permanently changed. With a shared commitment to help each other and a promise to remember those we have lost; we will find joy again.”