MSU should have alerted campus of shooting sooner

Two hours and 20 minutes. That’s roughly the amount of time it took for news of a shooting less than a mile from campus to be reported to students by the university.

On Friday night, we lost one of our classmates in a tragic act of violence.

Three days later, we still do not know why.

Ian Kullgren, Editor in chief
Rebecca Ryan, Opinion editor
Matt Sheehan, Staff representative

East Lansing police responded to the incident, but have not arrested a suspect.

Although it was determined that the incident was not random, it still is concerning to have a dangerous suspect so close to where many MSU students live. It also is concerning that it took MSU so long to warn us.

Two hours and 20 minutes. That is roughly the time it takes to walk from Hubbard Hall to Brody Complex. Twice.

The official text read: “Shooting occurred at 845 pm in 200 block of Cedar St., in East Lansing. Suspect is black male average height & build. Call ELPD at 517-319-6897 with information.”

It was delivered to us around 11 p.m. MSU’s response time was unnerving.

When a potential shooting incident was reported at University of Oklahoma’s campus on Jan. 22, the university’s official Twitter account had something posted informing students within an hour. Students were told to stay inside while the incident was investigated.

Although it turned out there was no shooter, the university took precautions and responded in a more timely manner than MSU. Fortunately for University of Oklahoma, police were able to determine there was no shooter. But in East Lansing, police still do not have the suspect in custody, and it took more than two hours for students to be informed.

In that time, students could have been walking through the neighborhood, and on a social campus such as MSU with many events happening in or around campus buildings, it is important students are informed of dangerous people.

While East Lansing police were investigating the incident, it wouldn’t have hurt for MSU to send out a quick alert or even a tweet within a half hour of the incident, informing students of the shooting.
On a Friday night in a social area of East Lansing where students live or often go to visit friends or attend parties, many students might have walked close to the 200 block of Cedar Street or through the Cedar Village Apartments area. With an unidentified shooter not in custody after shooting two students, we should have been notified sooner.

In addition, the description of the suspect was problematic.

Police were acting in good faith by sharing as much information as they had at the time about the suspect. But to describe the person as a “black male average height & build” doesn’t tell us much.
Simply describing the suspect as a black male could make students suspicious — or worse, afraid — of any average looking black male.

It is good that a release from the city later identified the suspect’s clothing, but the initial description could lead to stereotyping

We understand city police probably were busy searching for the suspect and investigating the incident, but what was the university doing at this time?

As students, we should trust the university is putting our safety first. It isn’t reassuring to find out it took the university more than two hours to inform students that a shooting incident occurred within a mile of campus.

Editor’s note: Minority representative Omari Sankofa II did not contribute to this editorial because he knew one of the victims.

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