A Nation Grieving: The Impact of the MSU Shooting


647 mass shootings in the United States were recorded by the Gun Violence Archive in 2022. In the first 49 days of 2023 alone, there have already been 74 more. Gun violence is not a new epidemic. According to the American Public Health Association, “Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S,” and, “Guns kill more than 38,000 people and cause nearly 85,000 injuries each year.” One of the most recent waves of gun violence hit Michigan shores on Feb. 13 when three students were killed and five were critically injured at Michigan State University. The shooting sent shockwaves throughout the state and the nation.

According to a report released by the MSU police the day after the shooting, the first call reporting an active shooter came in at 8:18 p.m. A shelter-in-place was immediately ordered for the campus and the nearby community. After the MSU Alert System and Emergency Operations Center were activated, police in the surrounding area came to campus to begin the search for the suspect, identified as 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae. He opened fire at two locations – Berkey Hall and the MSU Student Union. Three MSU students were fatally shot: Arielle Anderson, a junior from Grosse Pointe, Brian Fraser, a sophomore from Grosse Pointe, and Alexandria Verner, a junior from Clawson. Five students were injured and are currently being treated in the hospital. As of Saturday, four out of five remained in critical condition while only one has been upgraded to stable condition. 

The Impact of the Shooting at MSU

In the week following the shooting, MSU students, families, and community members came together to grieve and connect. A “Vigil at the Rock” was held on Wednesday, and around campus there are displays of messages such as “To Those We Lost, To Those Healing ” and “How Many More?” Classes and events were canceled the week following the shooting, and over the weekend, MSU faculty and staff debated the best course of action moving forward. Some students argued that Monday was too soon to go back to normal after such a tragic event. 22,000 people have already signed a petition for online and hybrid options to be offered at the university. While some feel a return to normalcy would be beneficial, others call for more time to grieve. There is no “right” way to heal, and MSU continues to look for the best way to support its students. 

Hope College Grieves and Demands Action

Students across Hope College’s campus were affected by the MSU shooting as well, both directly and indirectly. While many have ties to the campus through family or friends, all students felt the heavy weight of grief as we learned about another occurrence of gun violence in our country. Anna Whittle, the Interim Chapter Lead for Hope’s Students Demand Action (SDA) group, discussed the impact the MSU shooting has on the Hope community. SDA is a national organization committed to ending gun violence in the US, and it was established on Hope’s campus in the Spring of 2022 The founder of Hope’s SDA went to Oxford High School and had family and friends affected by the school shooting that occured in Nov. 2021. As a result, she saw the need for a group on campus and had SDA officially approved in Sept. 2022. SDA is a nonpartisan group that wishes to bring about change and acknowledge the pain of gun violence. Whittle explained that, “We, as young people, have a lot of power to talk to representatives and uplift stories of survivors,” and explained that reaching out to Michigan representatives is a powerful way to make our voices heard. Whittle also pointed out that a lot of valuable legislation concerning gun safety is currently on the table for consideration. Finally, Whittle wanted to remind students that, “while acknowledging the pain of a shooting so close to home, the work doesn’t stop in a week or month. It continues on.” The work to end gun violence, –which includes not only mass shootings but also domestic violence and other related issues, –is not an easy one, and it will require hard and continuous work.

Anna Whittle, Interim Chapter Lead for Hope College SDA
Photo Credit: Anna Whittle

For Hope College students that would like to get involved in SDA, you can follow them on Instagram (@hopecollege_sda) or email them at studentsdemandactiongs@hope.edu. They have monthly meetings and are currently taking action in the wake of the MSU tragedy. In the coming month, SDA is hosting a variety of events. One of these events includes a postcard and letter-writing event in the BSC Great Room on Tuesday, March 8 from 8-9 p.m. Later in March, STEP and SDA are collaborating on a Gun Violence and Interpersonal Violence Event on Tuesday, March 28 from 8-9 p.m. in Martha Miller 238. For students who are passionate about ending gun violence, SDA is a group on campus to follow and support.

Following the shooting at MSU, the Hope College community and others around the country continue to send their love and support to the students and families affected.

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