'It's so hard to deal with': Students return to MSU campus after normalcy shattered
As night falls on MSU’s campus, officially one week after the deadly shooting there, students and faculty processed their first day back with classes resumed.
Students took time meeting up, laying flowers at the makeshift memorials, while university officials are focusing on boosting security.
"I spent all day on campus just to see everybody and try to come back to normal a little bit," said Jarrett Maki.
Maki, a fifth-year senior from Clinton Township spent the day taking it all in. What he found, helped give him hope for the future.
"There was a cafe around here that offered free admission to students. That was nice. Go hang out with some animals for a bit," he said. "I’m a (Communication) Arts student so there were donuts and coffee and dogs and stuff so, just taking advantage of all the resources possible.
"Obviously it’s just so hard to deal with something like this and know the right things to do, know the right things to say."
All around campus, there were signs with messages of love and support for the returning student body.
Some honored the fallen Spartans: Alexandria Verner, Arielle Anderson, and Brian Fraser.
And at the storied Sparty Statue, usually a site of celebration and jubilation, is now a growing memorial for the victims. And it's a place of reflection and remembrance while everyone ponders what the future will look like as it relates to safety.
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"The security footage everything, it seems like a guy just walked into a door and just decided to do a senseless act. It’s tragic. It’s terrible and I think it will affect everyone for a very long time as it should," Maki said. "But I still feel very safe on campus. I go for walks and stuff like that. I just feel bad for those who, maybe that safety was taken away from them."
"It’s like what do you do?" said John Maki, Jarrett's father. "You’re 100 miles away. What do you do? But we kept in touch. I told him to get in the car and get the hell out of there but you just never know."
University officials tell FOX 2 that East Lansing police are helping out with boosted patrols though not a lot of changes have been made to the physical security of buildings, at least so far.
School leaders say they are having conversations at the leadership level and will collaborate with students on any changes made.
Various buildings will rely on current electronic access for the right people, locking after hours. The residence halls are accessible only to students.
The community meanwhile vows to keep supporting one another.
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"I started going to school here in 2018, a year longer than (my parents) would have liked," quippedd Jarrett. "I'm here through Covid and a lot of stuff, we’ve always bounced back, I feel, as a community. And I get same feeling once again. I think this time everyone is just rowing together. Right? A rising tide lifts all boats."
The university says it will pour resources into counseling and find the best ways to support students and faculty in the days ahead.
The university also says for anyone who did not get the initital emergency text alerts regarding the shooting, they want students to go to email@example.com and make sure their current cell phone number is updated.