Opinion: MSU students need more time to heal after mass shooting

Michigan State students were expected to return to classes a week after a shooting killed three students on campus


Todd McInturf / The Detroit News / TNS

From left, Ella Huff, of Grand Rapids, joins fellow Michigan State University students Sophie Apple and her sister, Abbey Apple, both of Washington Township, as they place flowers at “The Rock,” on Feb. 14, 2023, the day after a gunman killed three students and injured five others in a shooting on campus.

Freedom Tomasello, Opinions Editor

Only a week after a traumatic shooting took place, Michigan State University students and staff were expected to return to classes as normal. Students whose classes take place in halls where they experienced the violence may find it difficult to return to an area where their sense of safety has been shattered. 

A week is not enough time for them to completely heal and regain their trust in the environment.

This shooting killed three students and injured five others. Many others are left with irreversible emotional scars that may take months or years to heal. Returning to classes only a week after the shooting does not give those affected time to recover. Although the campus is offering counseling and other resources, the traumatic experience may still be very fresh in the minds of students and faculty. It is important to prioritize mental health and provide sufficient time and support for those impacted by the tragedy.

Social media has responded to the school’s deision. “It wasn’t the police’s fault,” says user myken03 in a Tik Tok post only 3 days after the shooting. “It wasn’t the school’s fault. It wasn’t because we aren’t allowed to carry. It’s because a disgustingly sick man decided he wanted to do this. Three innocent students who had bright futures had their lives taken from them. It’s sickening. I don’t want to be on campus. I don’t even want to go to Lansing.” 

Students have gone to the extent of creating a petition to move classes to an online or hybrid format, nearing almost 25,200 signatures. This shows how deeply the incident has affected them and their trust in the safety of in-person classes. It’s clear that students want to take action.

The State News, MSU’s school newspaper, posted an editorial titled “We’re not going to class Monday.” The editorial was a call to action, highlighting the fact that these students are not at all ready to return to classes.

“We can’t physically sit in a classroom on Monday,” the editorial says. “It’s been less than a week since we lost three fellow Spartans in those classrooms. We aren’t ready. 

“But we also can’t log onto Zoom on Monday and meaningfully engage in our classwork,” the editiorial continues. “We’re processing trauma. We’re coming to terms with grief. We can’t be worried about a deadline or an exam. We need more time to process without a class to worry about. MSU must extend the pause they’ve given us so we can decide how we need to proceed to feel safe and secure.” This decision must not be taken lightly, as the health and well-being of students, faculty, and staff should be the top priority.

Although some may argue that it is important for the community to come together and push past this hardship, it is an unrealistic expectation to have. This trauma cannot be overlooked and must be addressed in a way that is both sensitive and thorough. It is important to provide support and resources for those affected by the event, while also working towards preventing similar incidents in the future.