A shooter opened fire at Michigan State University’s campus, killing three students and injuring others on Feb. 13, according to a release by the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety. Classes at MSU resumed on Feb. 20, according to a report from Nation Public Radio.
University of Indianapolis alumna and Michigan State University Piano Technician Mary Lapprand said that students have been uneasy since returning after the incident.
“You can tell a lot of the students are very on edge or very nervous, or a lot of them, when they’re walking outside, [are] kind of checking over their shoulder, which I’ve never noticed that type of reaction before or behavior before on campus,” Lapprand said. “So I think students are a little leery about being on campus and not feeling the safest right now, but still being very brave to return to classes, trying to return to normal so they can try to have some normalcy, some sense of normalcy back.
According to UIndy Acting Chief of Police Brandon Pate, shootings occur on college campuses because campuses are seen as an opportunity.
“It’s a situation where you can cause the most disruption possible,” Pate said. “It’s worth remembering that a lot of the shooters aren’t of the same mindset and framework that we are. That most people walking around probably are. They want to cause mass chaos and casualty incidents and things like that.”
Pate said that UIndy police are assessing the MSU shooting to make campus safer.
“We will sit down as an agency—the training department and myself—and we’ll discuss what are the learning points that we can take from this,” Pate said. “And I think that’s how we make sure that we’re constantly staying abreast of what’s going on and making sure that we’re prepared the best that we can be.”
UIndy freshman social work major Melanie Gomez said she feels unsafe after the recent shooting at MSU.
“It makes me feel sad and unsafe to be here,” Gomez said. “… I feel like anyone could get into the school, like anyone can come in and have a weapon and hurt a lot of people.”
According to UIndy freshman and business administration and management major April Perez-Gomez, the lack of lights around campus is a source of unease.
“…Some of the areas are pretty dark,” Perez-Gomez said. “There’s barely any lighting and it makes it scary at night. It makes it feel a little uneasy. At night a majority of the [criminal] activity happens.”
Pate said the best thing students can do in an open area in the event of a shooter is to run to safety.
“…Sometimes people are hesitant to ask, ‘What would you do in this particular scenario?’ when you have an open space like that—a theater, an atrium dining hall or something of that nature—you find an exit,” Pate said. “That’s your plan. Okay. The plan of strategy is to run, is to get away. The only time that you would stand firm or do anything is if you cannot get away and now you have to fight. And you fight as if there’s no rules. Because there are no rules at that point.”
According to Lapprand, having close contact with campus police is in a student’s best interest.
“I feel as though every student on any college campus should always have campus police’s number in their cell phone…not for any morbid reason, but just for your own personal safety,” Lapprand said.
According to Pate, the UIndy police department uses scenario training to prepare in the event of an active shooter.
“We do scenario training twice a year,” Pate said. “We’ll add this [an active shooter] scenario as part of our training, where we will discuss, “Okay, we had the shooting incident, how long did it take to get eyes on the shooter? How long did it take to mitigate the threat? And then how long was it until medical intervention was applied and what did the communications look like?’ You know, ‘What are the campus notifications looking like and how are those, are they effective?’ So we do that with pretty much every major event that you see.”
Lapprand said that for people to come together in the aftermath of the shooting and help their local college community is important.
“I think just being aware of your surroundings and also being aware of your community [is important], ” Lapprand said. “I know a lot of the students who were victims of the shooting; they had friends within their classes. Everyone was checking on everyone else. It was just as though everyone came together… Fostering that sense of community, I think, is really helpful for any college student right now, to realize that you are not alone.”
According to a report by NPR, MSU is reworking its syllabus to help students recover after the shooting. This included a lighter course load for students during their first week back to classes and an option to choose whether to receive credit for courses at the end of the semester.
Perez-Gomez said being able to go to the resources on campus for help, such as to the UIndy Police, is one of the things UIndy is doing to make students feel safe.
“Being able to go to people,” Perez-Gomez said, “or having certain rooms here, or having a safe shelter makes me feel safer.”