Saturday, April 1, 2023

‘A much needed break’: How MSU students celebrated spring break after mass shooting

March 17, 2023
<p>Haley Claxton on spring break with friends during MSU's 2023 spring break. Photo courtesy of Haley Claxton.</p>

Haley Claxton on spring break with friends during MSU's 2023 spring break. Photo courtesy of Haley Claxton.

Sometimes all a person may need is a break.

On Feb.13, a mass shooting occurred at Michigan State University where three students were killed and five more critically injured. Three weeks after the mass shooting occurred, MSU students began their spring break from March 6-13.

Students said that they “thoroughly enjoyed” having this break after the tragedy, and it helped them realize the importance of spending time with friends. Some said it put things into perspective on how short time can really be.

“We don’t know when our last day is going to come,” biomedical sophomore Haley Claxton said. “Honestly, spending spring break with my friends after what happened, that really made me realize how much I need to spend this time with them laughing and being happy with them.” 

Claxton said having the opportunity to celebrate spring break in Georgia was a blessing due to the impact of the tragedy.


Haley Claxton on Spring Break, 2023. Photo courtesy of Haley Claxton.

“It’s a blessing that I even can step out of that," Claxton said. "The families of the loved ones that passed away, they can’t step out of that mindset. They are stuck in that mindset for I don’t know how long because of how impactful that was. For me to be able to leave school, leave that environment, go off and have fun with my friends like, it’s truly a blessing and I can’t take any of it for granted.” 

Claxton spent spring break with six of her friends. One of her friends was human biology sophomore Heaven King. King’s birthday was Feb. 14, the day after the mass shooting. She talked about how it was difficult to celebrate anything after the tragedy.


Heaven King on Spring Break, 2023. Photo courtesy of Heaven King.

“I did not celebrate my birthday,” King said. “It was a bittersweet feeling because my family told me things would be okay and I could still celebrate my birthday and try and put things in the past. I thought I could do it, I left the next morning, the day of my birthday and I was fine throughout the whole day but as the day went on, a lot more stuff set in. I think I was in shock mostly at the beginning of the day. A lot more of the events set in and it took me out of the mood for the whole day. I still kept a smile on my face but the celebrating part was not really there.”


Heaven King and a friend on Spring Break, 2023. Photo courtesy of Heaven King.

King said the time she spent with her friends was much needed to continue healing.

“We needed to get away from school to just be together as friends and to do something other than think about what happened or be afraid of being on campus,” King said. “We needed to be in a different spot, mindset and location wise.” 

King also talked about her apprehension with traveling to a new area after the mass shooting.

“It was definitely nerve racking being in the airport in a new place where you don’t know people, around an area you don’t know how to get back home to,” King said. “But we all stayed together for the most part and we have each others locations and I feel like it definitely helped a lot that it was a friend group trip and we were all together.”

Electrical engineering sophomore Kurk II Edwards said he shared the feeling of needing time away from school to take their mind off of the tragedy. As an R.A. during the mass shooting, he was responsible for making sure his floor was okay and accommodating his students needs.


Kurk Edwards on Spring Break, 2023. Photo courtesy of Kurk Edwards.

“During the time the shooting was happening, it was very stressful to me; I had multiple residents come to me to ask if they were safe and asking for advice,” Edwards said. “It was very stressful to make sure I gave the right advice because if I didn’t, something bad could have happened. So, when spring break came up, I went to Texas to visit my dad and during that time I pretty much slept in and made sure ... (to) de-stress and actually enjoy my time on spring break and not think about the past.”

Edwards said he did not not want the incident to keep him down and change his whole livelihood. He wanted to move forward.


Kurk Edwards on Spring Break with a friend, 2023. Photo courtesy of Kurk Edwards.

Edwards also said the steps MSU took to ensure all of the students safety made him more comfortable being back on campus. He could see how much Michigan State cared for their students.

As MSU passes the one-month anniversary of the tragedy, the students said they have slowly became more comfortable being on campus. Getting back into normal routine with classes played a part in making sure people were more comfortable being back. However, the students agree that no one should rush the process of getting used to being on campus again.

“There’s nothing else I could do except give it time because it’s not like I can erase the events that happened,” King said. “I think that’s what we all need to do though. I’m not forcing anything, I’m just getting back into things slowly.”


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