Hundreds of Michigan State University students gathered at The Rock on Farm Lane Tuesday evening for a vigil which honored their classmates killed in a mass shooting and supported survivors as the university transitions back to regular classes and activities.
The event was organized by Spartans Against Gun Violence, or SAGV, a chapter of the national gun-control advocacy group March For Our Lives. But, genomics and molecular genetics junior Zoe Haden, who led the vigil and co-chairs SAGV, said in an interview before the proceedings that the event was intentionally not political. Instead, student-speakers focused on honoring those killed and sharing their experiences with the return to classes Monday.
MSU’s undergraduate student-body president Jo Kovach said despite the prevalence of “Spartan Strong,” it’s “OK to not be OK today.”
“All that I ask of you is to be patient with yourself and be patient with those around,” Kovach said.
Interim president Teresa Woodruff, the only non-student speaker, echoed Kovach’s thoughts. She said being “Spartan Strong” can look different for everyone and can include being vulnerable and emotional in the wake of tragedy.
This comes less than one week after thousands gathered for another vigil at The Rock. That event was organized by the university, headlined with speeches from university administrators and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and attended by the national media.
In comparison, Tuesday’s vigil was a more intimate event, planned by students to support their peers in a return to campus.
“I think it was important to have another one a week later,” Haden said. “Because a lot of students were off campus during the first one, a lot of people went home to their families, and I wanted to help provide a space for students once they were back on campus.”
The event ended with members of the Spartan Marching Band performing MSU Shadows to a teary crowd, swaying arm-in-arm.