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Feb. 17, 2023

MSU community gathers for vigil on campus

This story refers to recent acts of violence at Michigan State University that may be difficult to read. Returning to campus will affect each community member differently and may be challenging for many. Resources and assistance are available through multiple campus programs.

Following the acts of violence at Michigan State University, a community of students, staff, faculty, first responders and others came together for a vigil at the Auditorium and the Rock on campus — a central and symbolic place of expression for generations of Spartans.

“In our collective grief, hope and resolve, we are truly a Spartan nation. Let us continue to find strength and hope in our community of Spartans,” said Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “To MSU, but also to the nation, let us create a new future together.”

Thousands joined together on the evening of Feb. 15 to mourn the students who died and were critically injured Feb. 13. The vigil, much of which was livestreamed for those unable to attend in person, served as a time to grieve, with words of comfort from the Rev. Curt Dwyer, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, MSU Board of Trustees Chair Rema Vassar, Ph.D., Interim President Woodruff and MSU men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo, among others. Representing students were Jo Kovach, president of the Associated Students of Michigan State University, and Hannah Jeffery, president of the Council of Graduate Students.

Vassar called upon Spartans to center themselves in love as they walked forward together.

“I have two charges for you. The first is to love yourself. The second is to love one another,” Vassar said. “Love is light. Light draws out all matters of darkness. Walk into the bright green light that the world needs to see, supporting one another, loving one another, giving grace to one another.”

Many groups from colleges and units at MSU gathered at various places on campus to travel together to the Rock, including a large group of faculty and staff who met at the Spartan statue, which has served as a memorial site. For some, this Spartan Walk, traditionally done on football game days, was a symbolic gesture to express MSU’s sense of community and uncommon will.

“The vigil represents what is best about the Spartan community — coming together to be there for each other, the community, the state, the country and the world,” said Allyn Shaw, assistant vice president for student involvement and leadership in Student Life and Engagement. “We are honoring those we have lost and those who are recovering, but also the gathering shows that it’s okay to not be okay.”

The vigil provided a way for the community to come together during this difficult time and included a dedication to first responders who acted swiftly to secure campus. While many mourned, murmured, embraced and held candles into the night, when the call went out, “Go Green,” it was met with a resounding “Go White."

In addition to the Feb. 15 vigil, a student-led vigil was held at 6 p.m., Feb. 21 at the Rock and MSU Auditorium. Thousands of Spartans came together. Take a look at some of the campus and student events that took place this week.

Banner photo courtesy Dane Robison.


By: Francisco Velazquez and Henry Mochida

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