MSU community tries to return to normal after on campus gun violence

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On the Banks of the Red Cedar there is a school that is known to all, and for its students, the night of February 13, 2023 is one they will hold in their hearts and memories forever. 

Although that day has passed, the experiences and fear of that night is something that Spartans carry with them every day from their classes to dinners at the dining halls. 

For every student and faculty member the grieving process is different. When returning to classes only one week after the violence,  some professors still were not sure how to handle it. 

“It was hard, I was trying to balance between acknowledging everything that happened, but providing some sense of normalcy that I knew some students were craving… It was an incredibly difficult situation to navigate knowing how different students’ needs were, and knowing even then that I could not meet everyone’s needs,” Brandy Ellison, social sciences professor, said.

Knowing how grieving and moving on is different for everyone, she decided to offer an option for students to return to her classes online. 

“I knew a lot of students wanted to be online. They were not comfortable coming back to campus because we were so close to spring break. After going home for a minute and asking them to come back for only two weeks, I was able to offer both options in that situation and it was nice, ” Ellison said.

 Whether they were returning from classes or already at home, the threat of an active shooter on campus struck fear into MSU students. It was something that most had not experienced before. 

Dayle Lincicome started her freshman year at MSU last fall, studying environmental studies and sustainability. 

“I was taking a chemistry exam and had just finished, but my phone was on do not disturb  and I started walking home. That’s when I got the alert but I really did not read too much into it.”

For some students like Dayle, the threat of an active shooter on campus did not seem real despite the run, hide, fight notification. 

“When I read that it made me think, maybe I should walk a little faster because maybe this isn’t like a ‘little alert’… This man pulls up next to me and tells me to get inside because there was an active shooter on campus, so then I started running because that’s when I got a little freaked out,” Lincicome said.

Other students, like Mia Vader Hoff, a junior agricultural management student, were at home when the gun violence began. Her worries were something that she did not expect when enrolling at MSU. 

“When I first heard about what was happening I thought ‘this isn’t real’ because we get alerts but I thought it wasn’t really real… we started to listen to the police scanner and texting all our friends to make sure they were okay,” Vander Hoff said.

Returning to classes is something that had to happen and some classes chose to give the online option as Professor Ellison did. Other students, like Vander Hoff, decided that returning to classes was what was most important for her to return to some sense of normalcy. 

“I just wanted to get back to normal… it was still a ghost town and no one was in our classes. I feel like the worst thing for people who are going through stuff is to sit in their bedroom and deal with it alone. They need to be with people,” Vander Hoff said.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the focus has been centered around the mental health of the students. It’s something that Professor Ellison has noticed since students have returned to MSU. 

“I hear a lot more mental health struggles from students now… so that has been a concern but I think now they’re having more difficulty managing mental health now and I think that’s an appropriate response to what has happened, and also I think that students are being more open to it as well, which is positive I think,” Ellison said. 

The campus has offered different resources to help its community manage mental health since Feb 13. Those resources can be found here

Although the two weeks after the shooting were emotional with the campus community grieving, some students would agree that since spring break, the vibe on campus is starting to come back with a new sense of community and normalcy in East Lansing. 

“I was excited to be back because it’s good to be home, and I think it’s good to be around people who have been through the same thing. I feel like it’s easier to be around people who understand and have those conversations… things were a little eerie but it was nice to be back in a strong community with lots of support,” Dayle said.

Although students and the University as a whole will eventually find a new normal, MSU will forever be changed by the events of Feb. 13. Lives were changed and life will never be the same on the banks of the Red Cedar. 

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