Spartan community comes together one year after shooting

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – One year.

Tuesday marks one year since a gunman opened fire on the campus of Michigan State University leaving three students dead and five others wounded. The shooting changed the lives and outlook of the entire Spartan community.

The university and community plan to mark the solemn occasion starting Tuesday and continuing through the week. The goal is to honor and remember the lives lost and to bring the community together one step further down a journey of healing.

A luminary at the MSU Breslin Student Event Center. (WLNS)
A luminary at the MSU Breslin Student Event Center. (WLNS)

On the eve of the anniversary, student organizers had 10,000 luminaries ready for distribution. They were disassembled and lined up — rows of paper bags and battery-powered lights — under the banner of “Spartans Together,” ready for pickup.

Kathryn Harding is a member of the Associated Students of MSU – the student governing body. She is the group’s health, safety and wellness director. and She says the idea for the coming occasions is to lean one on another.

“Having a space for us to heal together and also recognizing that not everyone is at the same space in their healing journey and nothing about it is going to linear,” she tells 6 News.

As people arrived to pick luminaries, students were writing and drawing messages of support and reflection – particularly on the three lost Spartans. MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff was also present, creating a luminary with the words “Spartan Strong” on it

Healing is a complex process, ASMUS President Emily Hoyumpa says. She hopes students, faculty and other members of the Spartan community recognize that.

“Everyone is at different places,” she says. “Some people want to be with others. Some people don’t. All of that is completely OK. Whatever you are feeling is OK. Where ever you are at in your healing journey, needs to be validated.”

The journey from those terrifying hours of lockdown and uncertainty to tomorrow’s anniversary has revealed being a member of the Spartan Community also means support – every step of the way,  Hoyumpa says.

“If I need a good cry, and I need that extra tight hug, or finding someone to cheer me on when I have something really great going for me,” she says.

For Harding, the bond of community has only grown stronger in the last year.

“On February 13th and every day past that, we’ve shown support to one another and I think that is a really beautiful thing,” she tells 6 News.

As the distribution ended, some of the luminaries were left by the windows and outside. Each with a single green light beckoning out to the other – together in the darkness.

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