Students, faculty return to Michigan State after shooting

A woman embraces a student with a "free hug from a mom" at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.
Sue Dodde, a mother from Conklin , right, embraces a student with a “free hug from a mom” as campus opens back up for the first day of classes at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., one week after three students were killed and five others injured during a mass shooting at the university.
(Jake May/The Flint Journal)

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. Many students skipped class to attend an afternoon protest at the state Capitol in Lansing to call for gun control legislation.

All students at the university this semester will be given a credit/no credit option, which allows them to receive credit for all classes without an effect on their overall grade point average. University officials also asked teachers in an email Friday to “extend as much grace and flexibility as you are able with individual students, now and in the coming weeks.”


Brogan Kelley, a freshman, left East Lansing after the shooting to return home to his family in west Michigan. But he 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,” Kelley said.

Kelley, who was at an off-campus house when the shooting took place, said the majority of his professors had given students the option to attend class in person or online, with many students choosing the latter.

The shootings at Michigan State happened last Monday during evening classes at Berkey Hall and nearby at the MSU Union. Students across the vast campus were ordered to shelter in place for four hours — “run, hide, fight” if necessary — while police hunted for the gunman. Anthony McRae, 43, 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 this week, either in person or online. More time was needed to heal, the students wrote.


March for Our Lives founder David Hogg, a survivor of a 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., joined hundreds of students and community members at the state Capitol for a sit-down protest Monday. Hogg and other students spoke on the Capitol steps, calling for state lawmakers to enact gun reform.

“Enough is enough. How many more students have to die until you can hear our cries?” Michigan State senior Kelsey Gruzin said.

In the days after the shooting, Michigan Democrats, who control all levels of the state government for the first time in decades, have promised to pass gun-safety measures. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called for gun control legislation that includes universal background checks, safe storage laws and “extreme risk protection orders.”

“It’s no secret that your governor is probably going to be running for president,” Hogg said Monday. “Are you ready to hold Gretchen Whitmer accountable?”