Saturday, February 24, 2024

Guest Essay: My MSU is No More; the Michigan State Shooting

A vigil sits outside the fence of the Union on Feb. 20, 2023. The day before, 'Spartan Sunday' was held on campus where students and the community came together to take back the campus after a mass shooting took place on Feb. 13, 2023.
A vigil sits outside the fence of the Union on Feb. 20, 2023. The day before, 'Spartan Sunday' was held on campus where students and the community came together to take back the campus after a mass shooting took place on Feb. 13, 2023. —
Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Guest essay by David L. Stanley, Class of 1981

I graduated from MSU in 1981. I was an okay student. Like a lot of 20-year-old privileged white kids, sometimes I was lazy. Sometimes, I was brilliant.

I played varsity soccer for two years. Got hurt, quit the team and played every intra-mural sport available for the next three years. I jumped out of a plane.

I partied, too much at first, and more sensibly as I got older. I dated. I had one night stands. I fell in love. I learned to get along with roommates. I learned that you have to have money in your checking account or else your bank bounces your check back to you.

I graduated. I had some jobs, but not a real career. I married. Twice. I had a son. He’s a good kid. I became a coach and HS teacher and made a difference in the lives of a crap-ton of kids. I nearly died. I wrote a couple of books. I was a good son to my Dad as he was dying.

It’s been a life.

I had classes at Berkey Hall. Physics classes. A biology lecture or two. Some math classes. A couple of clubs I was active in held their meetings in Berkey. It is impossible for me to visit the campus, drive past Berkey and not flush with nostalgia for those times.

Two people were murdered there by a gunman with too-easy access to firearms.

I hung out at the MSU Union. Lots of group and club meetings. The occasional coffee date. Pinball for everyone. Best of all, when I got tired of getting my ass kicked in bar pool at Mac’s Bar, I discovered that the Union had championship size pool tables available for rent. $10 an hour. It didn’t help; I still got my ass kicked.

I remember, from all those years ago, that a couple of weeks before graduation, I sat on the south door porch steps of the Union. I took in the view. The stadium, Beaumont Tower, the Library, all in view through the trees. Students rolled through on bikes. Couples held hands and giggled; in love with the sort of love you can have only on a college campus. Ducks and geese quacked overhead as they lined up for landing on the Red Cedar on the banks of the Administration Building. I realized I would never have this time, this moment, in my life again. It was blissful and bittersweet.

Someone was murdered right there, on the steps of my Union. Our Union.

Five other people were also shot. They lie in critical condition.

Several students who survived the Oxford High School murders were in the shelter-in-place lock down last night. Quite possibly, they are the first group of students to have to witness two school mass shootings.

Those three dead men and women; they won’t see graduation. They won’t jump out of a plane. They won’t party at Homecoming twenty years after graduation. Everything that made MSU special for me, they will never see. Those three, they could’ve been me. Decent students, good people to hang out with, committed to making their world a little better.

They won’t get the chance. They were murdered by someone with too-easy access to firearms.

Every country wrestles with mental health problems for their citizens.

Every country wrestles with the issue of angry men.

No other country has more guns in circulation than they have people.

In no other country is it as easy to buy a weapon as it is to buy insulin.

Those kids killed at MSU?

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One of them is me. One of them is you. The other is your child.

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