One year after MSU shooting, the university community will light luminaries of remembrance
The one-year anniversary of the deadly shooting on Michigan State University’s campus is Tuesday, and the university and community partners are inviting those who have been impacted or want to show support for the university community to light luminaries in remembrance.
MSU and community groups like the United Resiliency Center are distributing 25,000 luminaries around the local East Lansing area, as well as various alumni chapters across the U.S. But if individuals can’t get a luminary from MSU, they are encouraged to make their own.
The lighting will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The Feb. 13, 2023, shooting, during which three students were killed and five were injured, had widespread impact in the local community and also those around the globe with ties to MSU, Jamie Ayers, Director of Victim Services at Common Ground said. Common Ground is opening the United Resiliency Center right off-campus to address the long-term impacts of the shooting.
“We want everyone to feel a sense of community with East Lansing and MSU and the Spartan community that day,” Ayers said. “You’re able to do this wherever you are … It allows people that day to be where they’re at … If they want to be out in public, they can. … And they can also show their love and support in their homes or in their dorms.”
MSU interim President Teresa Woodruff reminded the university community last week at a board of trustees meeting that there are many community events going on on campus the week of Feb. 13, but the tragedy impacts everyone differently.
“We know people continue to process these events in their own way and time, and there are no requirements to participate,” Woodruff said.
And The United Resiliency Center understands that trauma and healing don’t look the same for everyone, Ayers said. But with the date of the shooting coming up, individuals could experience an array of emotions and experiences.
“It’s very normal for people to have increased symptoms around this time and sometimes it starts two weeks before. … People might start experiencing symptoms they had this time last year,” Ayers said. “There is a lot of anxiety leading up to the one year because people aren’t sure how they’re going to feel that day.”
The United Resiliency Center, which offers a free helpline and victim advocacy services and support, is the second of its kind center operated by Common Ground, a Michigan-based nonprofit offering community support with crisis services.
The other facility in Michigan is the All for Oxford Resiliency Center, which works to support those impacted by the Oxford High School shooting in 2021 during which four students were killed.
Funding for the centers comes from the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP), which works to support communities that have experienced terrorism or mass violence.
But the needs in Oxford may not be the same as what’s needed for the MSU community as the center has opened its helpline and normal business hours to come in-person will start March 4, Ayers said.
“Common Ground does not come into a community and say, ‘These are the things you need.’ We do a lot of listening; a lot of community building. We want to hear what people are needing where the gaps are,” Ayers said. “We build our programming based on that. … Communities are different.”
Resources at the center are free and Ayers said she hopes people utilize the space, whether it be for community yoga, grabbing a snack or petting center Canine Advocate Wyleigh.
People can visit the center outside of experiencing a crisis, Ayers said, as staff is working on furnishing and decorating for visitors. She hopes it can be a place where people can connect with the community — wherever they are with healing from the tragedy at MSU.
“Just because someone’s feeling different from you, it doesn’t make it right or wrong. Everyone is on their own healing journey and that’s okay. We want to support one another and accept one another, no matter where they are in that process,” Ayers said.
Locations to pick up a luminary
- United Resiliency Center, 1504 E. Grand River Ave. Suite #200, East Lansing, MI 48823
- Michigan State University Library, 366 W. Circle Dr., East Lansing, MI 48824
- Michigan State University Student Services Building, Room 150, 556 E. Circle Dr., East Lansing, MI 48824
- MSU Union, 49 Abbot Rd., East Lansing, MI 48824
- IM Circle, IM East, IM West
- East Lansing Hannah Community Center, 819 Abbot Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823
- East Lansing Public Library, 950 Abbot Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823