Students gathered at the Gilbert Pavilion in the Breslin Student Events Center Monday evening to pick up and decorate luminary displays to be displayed throughout the week for the one-year anniversary of the Feb. 13 campus mass shooting.
The event was organized by the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, in collaboration with MSU’s March For Our Lives, Students Demand Action and Sit Down Michigan State.
Students at the event were handed a green LED candle, a white paper bag and had access to Sharpies for writing messages or drawing illustrations.
ASMSU President Emily Hoyumpa said the luminary event, like all other remembrance events planned for this week, is entirely optional for students but is meant to provide spaces for those who need them.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge that everyone’s at a different place in their healing journey,” Hoyumpa said. “If you want to come and be together with the community you can … we just wanted to provide those supportive spaces for those Spartans who need that extra hand.”
Criminal justice and broadcast journalism sophomore Natalie McLaughlin said she plans to display her luminary on her windowsill facing Grand River Avenue. McLaughlin added that she hopes others can see her display and be reminded of how the MSU community is coming together during this week.
“We all have to stick together and really stay close during hard times like this,” McLaughlin said. “Even these little symbols like the luminaries will bring awareness and remind other Spartans that we are all one.”
Physiology sophomore Tierney Ordway said that although the one-year anniversary of the shooting has been difficult mentally, knowing that others are going through similar things can make the experience more bearable.
“When you go through something that’s really hard, it can feel very isolating,” Ordway said. “To know that there are other people that might have similar feelings or went through the same thing as you can make you feel like you’re not alone. It can make it easier.”
Students will have the opportunity to leave their luminary displays at various locations on campus such as the Spartan Statue and the Rock. Additionally, alumni from around the world are encouraged to post photos of their luminaries on social media Tuesday night using the hashtag #SpartansTogether.