Three Things Thursday: February 16, 2023
Dear Michigan LCV Family,
NOTE: Please know that today’s Three Things are written from my heart and represent my personal perspective, not necessarily that of the organization.
I intended to write a traditional Three Things Thursday this week, but I couldn’t. My heart, like the hearts of so many across this beautiful state and beyond, feels tattered and torn by the gun violence Monday night on the Michigan State University campus, an incident that left three MSU students dead and five more critically injured.
Credit: @TheRealSparty via Twitter.
This mass shooting took the lives of Arielle Anderson, a 19-year old sophomore from Harper Woods, MI; Alexandria Verner, a 20-year old junior from Clawson, MI; and Brian Fraser, a 20-year old sophomore from Grosse Pointe, MI.
As Gabby Giffords posted on social media:
Alexandria Verner. Arielle Anderson. Brian Fraser.
They had their whole lives ahead of them. These students should still be here.
This post is dedicated to them but it’s also a wake up call. Our leaders must act. Each day that passes with silence more young lives are lost.
Alexandria was a sister, a daughter. She graduated from high school in 2020, and was still remembered by her impact as a student-athlete: “If you knew her, you loved her and we will forever remember the lasting impact she has had on all of us.”
Areille was described by her grandmother as “kind, loving, caring, compassionate, driven.” She was devoted to her aunt, who has special needs, and took care of senior citizens in her free time. Fittingly, she aspired to be a pediatric doctor.
Brian’s sister called him the light in their family’s lives. He was a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying business and economics. As president of the Phi Delta Theta chapter, he’s remembered as a great friend.
My heart breaks for their families and loved ones.
The Michigan LCV family is reeling. Many of our staff, board members and alumni are MSU graduates. We all know students, staff, faculty and/or administrators who are currently part of the extraordinarily proud Green and White community.
The day following the shooting – on Valentine’s Day – Michigan LCV issued a public statement:
Our hearts go out to the victims, students, faculty, staff and families impacted by last night’s tragedy at Michigan State University. We stand with our board members, staff, interns and partners who are all part of the Spartan Family. As we work to clean up our drinking water, tackle climate change, hold polluters accountable, defend the very essence of our democracy and work to create a more just, equitable world, gun violence remains a public health crisis across our country. Together, we must commit to finding real and immediate solutions to ensure our children and communities are safe.”
So many statements and remarks have been made by public officials and notable leaders, but one that I’ll lift up is that of Tom Izzo, MSU’s beloved basketball coach. This was, no doubt, the toughest speech Tom has ever had to deliver.
So, in the midst of this sadness, pain and anger what can one do?
1. Use your individual podium to advocate for change
There are more guns than there are people in America so it should not be a surprise to any of us that gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in our country. It’s time for all of us to use our podiums–big or small–to advocate for change. Tom Izzo emphasized this in his speech.
For years now, people across this nation have offered thoughts and prayers –again and again and again– with the news of the latest mass shooting. We read about the lives lost and the families ripped apart. At Columbine it was 12;. at Sandy Hook it was 26; at Marjory Stoneman Douglas it was 17; at Uvalde it was 19; at Oxford High School, only months ago, it was four. These are young people and teachers who lost their lives in their schools!
In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day 2018, I drove my then-17 year old son and his two friends to Washington to attend the March for Our Lives. That gathering on March 24, 2018, the streets of our nation’s capital filled with young people…grieving, shocked, angry, incredulous, determined…was not for naught. While it did not compel action in the halls of Congress the way it should have (shame of the intransient, gun lobby-supported decision-makers who have stalled real change!), it was an important part of the growing demand on the part of our children, our youth, our families and communities everywhere. Fast forward to 2023 and now cries, demands and collective rage built from devastating grief come from the MSU family and are added to the mix. But here in Michigan, for the first time, I am convinced we will see action taken in the halls of our state capitol.
The Spartan statue on Michigan State’s campus, laden with flowers in honor of the victims.
Schools scared to death.
The truth is, one education under desks,
Stooped low from bullets;
That plunge when we ask
Where our children
And, in another series of tweets, Gorman wrote:
It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity—it’s inhumanity.”
The truth is, one nation under guns.”
What might we be if only we tried. What might we become if only we’d listen.”
In the wake of the shooting at Michigan State, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and many state legislators have called for action to end gun violence. And, instead of Michigan’s recent pro-gun majorities, Lansing is now controlled by lawmakers who have been vocal of their intent to enact real change.
Sen. Mallory McMorrow, speaking at the Capitol on Wednesday where Michigan State students orchestrated a peaceful sit-in to call for action to end gun violence, said “This should not be a shared American experience.”
Sen. Gary Peters echoed these sentiments during an interview on MSNBC, pointing out the terrifying fact that there are students who survived the Oxford High School shooting now attending Michigan State.
Within this new political landscape, which all of you helped make possible, the great state of Michigan may finally take meaningful steps to protect our students, our families, and our communities. To ensure that happens, make your voices heard with your state legislators. Use your personal power…your podium!…to create change!
2. Be love
Speaking to countless members of the Spartan community gathered for a vigil last night, Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tim Izzo said:
Whatever you are feeling, it’s all valid. I cry in front of my team. I cry on national TV. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. Let’s do a better job of taking care of each other. We need each other.”
Adding that his son was at one of the buildings right after the shooting, Izzo – who has been at MSU for more than 40 years – urged everyone to take care of one another more than before, asking everyone in the crowd to get to know the ten people around them.
My eldest son and some of my best friends went to MSU. They have told me countless times, as every Spartan will, that –despite its size – the experience at State is that of a tight-knit community. That was certainly evident yesterday when thousands gathered for a vigil at the Rock, a centerpiece of campus.
As a proud Wolverine, I had tears in my eyes when, about 70 miles away in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan student body responded in kind, showing love and support for their fierce rivals through their own vigil in the Diag and the painting of “Spartan Strong” on the sacred UofM rock.
Credit: @SantaJOno via Twitter.
The rock on Michigan’s campus (Credit: @SpartyOn70 via Twitter).
So, I encourage you to show up for your friends, loved ones and community like never before. Reach out and be there for people you know and even people you don’t know. Think of the Maya Angelou quote:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”― Maya Angelou
3. Support for the victims, survivors and their families
Several Michigan LCV teammates are intimately connected to students at MSU. Friends, partners, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews–the list is long.
Guadalupe Huapilla-Perez is a friend of one of our Michigan LCV teammates. Lupe was critically injured in Monday’s shooting and remains in hospital. Her family – a migrant family from South Florida – dropped everything to be with their daughter during this incredibly difficult time. Guadalupe’s sister, Selena, set up a GoFundMe campaign to help support the family, which you can donate to here.
There are also GoFundMe campaigns that have been established to support the other victims of the tragedy and their families, as well as funds to support mental health resources for students. A petition has also been established to request that hybrid and virtual class options be provided for students as the Michigan State community begins to heal. I’ve provided information on all of this below:
- A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support Brian Fraser and his family. Brian was one of three Michigan State students who tragically lost their lives. Click here to donate.
- The Spartan Strong Fund exists to address the immediate and changing needs of Michigan State University. Examples of support could include campus safety enhancements and mental health services for students, faculty and staff. And here is a spreadsheet full of crisis mental health resources and support options for the Michigan State community.
- Petition for Michigan State University Spring 2023 Hybrid or Online option. Click here to add your name in support.
While donations will not heal the pain, support is what the families of the victims and the entire Spartan community needs right now.
Thank you for all you do everyday to make this world a better place. Stay strong…Spartan Strong! And remember: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
P.S. Three more things worth checking out
- Josh Davis’ beautiful arrangement of MSU Shadows
- Michigan State alum Tim Alberta’s article Requiem for the Spartans; The school I love forever changed, which was published in The Atlantic. This is a tribute to MSU’s great spirit and resilience in the midst of tremendous hardship.
- Brian Van der Hyde’s article on Medium entitled, There is a crack in everything.