EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University students and faculty returned to the East Lansing campus Monday as the university resumed normal operations one week after a gunman shot and killed three students and injured five others.
The 50,000-student university’s campus remained relatively quiet on the first day back, with many professors allowing students to attend class virtually and some students opting instead to attend a planned protest at the state Capitol in the afternoon.
“We are still here, we are still grieving, but I do also wanna say that we’ll never give up on the university,” said MSU senior Matthew Murray.
In an email sent out to faculty Friday, the university said that all students will be given a credit/no credit option this semester, which allows students to receive credit for all classes without it impacting their overall grade point average. The email, written by interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko, asked all teachers to “extend as much grace and flexibility as you are able with individual students, now and in the coming weeks.”
Brogan Kelley, a freshman at Michigan State, left East Lansing following last week’s shooting to return home to his family in west Michigan but drove back on Sunday so that he could attend class in person. He said that he felt like it was important “to go back about my life.”
“For me, not going to class felt like I would have been letting the shooter win. I didn’t want this one tragedy to define the place I call home and the university that’s giving me my education,” said Kelley.
Kelley, who was at an off-campus house when the shooting took place, said that the majority of his professors had given students the option to attend class in person or online, with many students choosing the latter.
Many on campus believe seeing their classmates back on school grounds is helping them cope.
“I’ve felt more of myself going to class and being able to be around people who are also experiencing this,” said MSU graduate student Emma Mollitor.
The shootings at Michigan State happened last Monday during evening classes at Berkey Hall and nearby at the MSU Union, a social hub where students can study, eat and relax. Students across the vast campus were ordered to shelter in place for four hours — “run, hide, fight” if necessary — while police hunted for Anthony McRae, 43, who eventually killed himself when confronted by police not far from his home in Lansing.
Two wounded students remain in critical condition at Sparrow Hospital, university police said Monday. Two other students were in stable condition with another student in “fair condition.”
The university has been criticized by some in the community for returning too quickly. The editorial board of The State News, the student newspaper, wrote Thursday that they wouldn’t attend class next week, either in person or online. More time was needed to heal, the students wrote.
A student-led protest was scheduled to take place at the state Capitol in downtown Lansing on Monday afternoon calling for gun reform legislation. March for Our Lives founder David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland School shooting, joined Michigan State students and state lawmakers at a press conference outside of the state Capitol prior to the protest to call for gun reform.